Most of you won’t know who Darren Sheldrake is, and I don’t blame you. It was only last week that I discovered who Darren Sheldrake is. I doubt Mrs Darren Sheldrake knows who Darren Sheldrake is.
In fact, I bet you Darren Sheldrake doesn’t even have a Mrs Darren Sheldrake. I bet Darren Sheldrake is the sort of guy who still lives with his mum, playing with train sets like a slightly less socially awkward Norman Bates who only goes out at the weekend to referee League One games and give dodgy penalties that mess up people’s hard-thought out, immaculately researched and should-have-turned-another-profit Long Shot tips.
Yes, in case you hadn’t gathered, Darren Sheldrake was the clown that gave MK Dons a last-minute, non-existent spot-kick that secured a 1-0 win for Karl Robinson’s side over Sheffield United, while at the same time kicking into touch our 31/4 tip on a goalless draw. As you can see, I haven’t taken it well.
It meant a second week without a win for the Long Shot, but there is no need to panic. Even in defeat, we are still knocking on the door and we are still showing a pot of £95 for the season, calculated at a £10 stake per selection.
So without further ado, let’s get Sheldrake out of our system with this week’s selections.
Middlesbrough to beat Cardiff and over 2.5 goals @ 4/1
Okay, this may seem like a crazy one when you look at Cardiff’s home record in the Championship, which reads played eight, won eight. But, like Robert Maxwell, I like swimming against the tide and I think it is time to oppose the red Bluebirds when Middlesbrough travel to Wales.
A closer inspection of City’s form at the Cardiff City Stadium suggests that, while eight consecutive wins is fantastic, there are reasons to doubt. Six of those wins came against teams who are currently in the bottom half of the table and I would say that Middlesbrough offer a sterner test than anyone they have faced so far.
Let’s not forget, Boro are in second place, above Cardiff in the table, and are on a roll on their travels. The Teesiders have won seven and drawn one of their last eight and had won six away league games on the trot before a 0-0 draw against Nottingham Forest last time out.
So if we’re going for Boro, we may as well go over 2.5 goals at 4/1. Cardiff’s last ten games have all seen at least three goals, as well as seven of their home games, while the team from the Riverside have seen over 2.5 goals in five of their away games. I think Tony Mowbray can get another win, so let’s trust there will be goals at 4/1.
Blackpool to beat Bristol City after drawn first half @ 5/1
The only thing that has hit rock bottom quicker than the reputation of the BBC is Bristol City, who have lost seven games on the bounce to fall to the foot of the Championship, and I spy a way to make their poor form count when Blackpool go to Ashton Gate on Saturday.
City are on a nightmare run and their defence is more exposed than Helen Flanagan in the celebrity jungle. The Robins haven’t kept a clean sheet all year and have conceded 33 goals in 17 games, but as bad as that is, the stats suggest that they don’t start off all that poorly.
Derek McInnes’ side have only been behind at half-time three times this season and have actually been level at the break in ten of their matches. By proxy, it all goes Flanagan (tits up) in the second half, where City have lost ten times, letting in 25 goals.
What McInnes says at half-time is anyone guess, but it’s clear to see that Brian Clough he isn’t and the 5/1 on the draw at half-time being followed by Blackpool snatching the win is good value.
The Seasiders have only been winning at half-time four times themselves this term, but have won seven second periods and new boss Michael Appleton will see this as an ideal chance to get his first win on the board.
Sheffield United to beat Stevenage 1-0 @ 5/1
That last-minute penalty might have kicked us in the knackers last weekend, but the lack of goals in Sheffield United’s matches continues to amaze and it is worth sticking with that this week when Stevenage go to Bramall Lane.
Quite how the Blades are second is anyone guess, it’s like they have got a team of Rob Joneses playing for them. There have only been 30 goals in United’s 17 League One games, an average of 1.76 a match, and 15 of their fixtures have been under 2.5 goals (eight have featured less than two goals).
More incredibly, six of their eight wins – yes, eight wins from 17 games has Danny Wilson’s side in second place – have been 1-0. It’s making George Graham-era Arsenal look like Ferenc Puskas’ Hungary, but if they keep winning 1-0 they will get promoted and the 5/1 on them making it a seventh single-goal victory looks good to me.
Stevenage are level on points with their hosts in third and are partial to low-scoring affairs themselves. Five of their league fixtures have been under 1.5 goals and in what is destined to be a tight affair, get on the 5/1 that United nick it.