Bournemouth v Bolton
Monday 27 April
Live on Sky Sports 1
When the Cherries conceded an equaliser deep into injury at home to Sheffield Wednesday last Saturday it looked as they had handed the initiative to their three rivals in the battle for automatic promotion with that trio all playing again before this fixture. However, with Norwich being pegged back late on at Rotherham and Middlesborough losing dramatically at Fulham, Eddie Howe’s men are right back in the box seat. Odds of [1.11] to be promoted show that Borunemouth already have one foot in the Premier League.
Put simply, three points ahead of Boro and with a vastly superior goal difference, victory here effectively means top-flight football next season for the first time in their history and would leave them to fight out the title with Watford on the final day of the season.
Prior to last week’s point against Wednesday, they had won four straight games at home, although they were held to draws in the three matches before that at the Goldsands Stadium. They have scored 13 goals in the last four home games and you have to go back to January 10 to find the last time Howe’s men tasted defeat in front of their owns fans (versus Norwich). Simon Francis is suspended following his sending off last week but otherwise Howe has a full squad to choose from.
Wanderers sit in 18th place in the league and the early promise of Neil Lennon’s stewardship hasn’t really lasted. Heavily in debt it will be very interesting to see what kind of assistance the former Celtic boss is given in the transfer market this summer. Away from home they’ve won just four times and their 14 defeats is more than anybody else has endured bar poor old Blackpool.
Having said that, they are unbeaten in their last three on the road – a very creditable 2-2 draw at Brentford last time out, a win at Cardiff prior to that and another point at Wigan before that. But perhaps more pertinently, they have returned empty-handed from trips to all of the top seven so far.
Neil Danns and Barry Bannan are likely to return to the Trotters’ squad for the game having been left out last week for disciplinary reasons, while midfield playmaker Mark Davies is in line for a first start for six months after a serious knee injury.
Half Time/Full Time
Not surprisingly given the side’s respective positions and the fact the home side have everything to play for they are priced up very short in the match odds market. Backing them at [1.29] is only for the bigger players though and, as usual, I’d rather look for something that comes closer to doubling our money as the first recommended bet here.
Howe says that his men play well under lights at home and although the stats only partly back that up this season (two wins, a draw and a loss in the league), there will be a cracking atmosphere in front of the cameras. This can sometimes work either way but at every stage so far this year, the Cherries have relished the pressure and expectation so there’s no reason to suspect they’ll freeze here.
For that reason I like the look of backing them to be winning at both half time and full time at [1.84]. We know this is a side full of goals (Callum Wilson, Yann Kermorgant, Brett Pitman and Matt Ritchie are all in double figures for the season) and roared on by a hugely supportive crowd they look perfectly able to come out all guns blazing from the off here.
Kermorgant has scored in three of the Cherries’ last four games and there’s no doubt the Frenchman, who I like to call the ‘Championship Cantona’, loves being in the limelight. He would like nothing better than being the man whose goal sends Bournemouth into the Premier League for the first time in their history and should be backed to score at anytime over at the Sportsbook at [2.3].
He is the home side’s first-choice penalty taker and has netted three times from the spot in their last five games at the Goldsands as well as being very good from free-kicks just outside the box and is well worth getting onside here.
Back Bournemouth/Bournemouth in the Half Time/Full Time market at [1.85]Back Yann Kermorgant to score anytime at [2.3] at Betfair Sportsbook
Staked: 133 pts
Returned: 129.90 pts
P/L: – 3.10 pts
*2pts best bet if stated
1pt other recommended bets