Point for point they continue to go. Southampton and Reading are both eyeing a title win to go with promotion to the Premier League.
Two Easter weekend wins apiece left the Saints and the Royals six points ahead of third-placed West Ham and as clear favourites for the automatic promotion spots.
But that doesn’t make Friday’s crunch live Sky clash between the duo on the south coast any less significant.
Southampton are 13/10 to get their 15th home win of the season in bwin’s 3Way football betting market, with Reading 2/1 to get a 13th victory in 15 and the draw well worth considering at 11/5.
Saints have been sensational at home, losing just twice in over two seasons at St Mary’s, so it would be brave to bet against them avoiding defeat here at 7/20.
That success has mainly been down to the hosts’ rampant goalscoring run – with Championship top scorer Ricky Lambert helping Saints to average nearly two goals a game all season – and they are 22/25 to score first here.
However, Nigel Adkins’ side only have one win in the past three, whereas Reading are the league’s hottest team and are no slouches in the goalscoring department either, having scored 63 league goals this season.
It’s reasonable to suggest, then, that this game promises to be a high-scoring affair, with over 2.5 goals available at an inviting price of evens.
The counter-argument is that the 1-1 draw when the two sides met at the Madejski in October showed how both are also more than capable of shutting down the most potent Championship attacks.
New customers using the free £25 bet they receive when joining bwin.com would win £150 if there is a repeat of that 1-1 scoreline at St Mary’s.
But while that defensive solidity may hold for a while, especially given what is at stake, the quality of the forwards on show – including Lambert, Jason Roberts and Benik Afobe – should see the breakthrough made eventually.
With this in mind, backing more goals to be scored in the second half than the first at 6/5 offers great value – but a solid play on the draw is surely the best way to go here.
Recommended bet: Southampton and Reading to draw @ 11/5
Outside punt: Southampton and Reading to draw 1-1 @ 5/1
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