After going so close to a second successive treble last weekend, we’re hoping to bounce back in style on Saturday with this 11/2 league and cup offering from the afternoon’s domestic entertainment.
We’ve picked two teams to win their vital Championship league games while also backing another to book their place in the potentially lucrative third round of the FA Cup. Here are our selections. Good luck!
Birmingham City v Barnsley
After conceding five at home to Nottingham Forest last Friday, Paul Heckingbottom’s Tykes are now four games without a win and have fallen to 18th in the table. While the Championship club won’t have the alarm bells ringing just yet, they should be prepared for things to take another turn for the worse as they head to St Andrew’s.
Home side Birmingham are now fourth in the table and that’s largely thanks to a home record that includes five wins and only one defeat from nine. Gary Rowett’s men should be confident after winning each of their last two matches while Clayton Donaldson and co. will fancy their chances of goals against an away team that is out of form.
The visitors started the season well, but are trapped in a downward spiral right now. The Tykes are good enough to recover, but it’s hard to see it happening against a team that appears destined to fight for promotion – even if a frontline of Adam Armstrong, Tom Bradshaw and Sam Winnall is more than capable of causing a few problems for the hosts.
It will be a test for Birmingham, but we’re backing them to pass with flying colours.
Wigan Athletic v Derby County
New boss Warren Joyce will have been thrilled to see Wigan seal three points at Huddersfield on Tuesday night but his honeymoon period might not last too long as the Latics face an in-form Derby County.
Like Wigan, the Rams have had a change of manager this term. Steve McClaren is enjoying a great time at the moment as his team have won four on the spin to reignite their hopes of promotion, even if it will most likely be through the play-offs. Against a team sitting in the relegation zone, the visitors will be confident about making it five wins from five.
The quality of Will Hughes, Tom Ince, and co. should enjoy a productive afternoon at the DW Stadium. While Wigan are improving, the fact they’ve scored just six home goals all season should have the alarm bells ringing, particularly as Derby boast three clean sheets in four.
Wigan will fancy their chances of fighting for survival. On this occasion, though, we’re backing the visitors to prevail.
Blackpool v Brackley Town
It’s also FA Cup weekend and National League North side Brackley Town will be looking to cause an upset at Bloomfield Road. However, we think it’s Blackpool who will seal their place in round three with a dominant display against inferior opposition.
The Tangerines have won their last four in all competitions, scoring four times in three of those matches. If the likes of Kyle Vassell and Brad Potts are given the opportunities here, they will almost certainly be ready to take them.
Brackley are in great form themselves, going 13 games unbeaten in all competitions while causing a first round upset against Gillingham in the process. Nonetheless, Kevin Wilkin’s men will be under no illusions about the difficulty of this test. Unfortunately for them, we think they will come up short.
Blackpool could certainly use the financial rewards of a big third round tie. Whether they get their reward will be down to the luck of the draw, but we expect them to at least do their part by beating their non-league opponents.