English Championship Play-Off Final Wembley
Monday 29th May 3.00pm kick off
Huddersfield v Reading
The sides finished fifth and third respectively in the final table with just four points between them, but Reading clearly finished the season stronger with four wins in their last five games as opposed to Huddersfield who lost three of their last five matches. There is so much pressure on this game because the prize is so big that some may argue that past form is totally irrelevant. It is hard to ignore that argument completely but it can give us an informed opinion of how the two match up against each other in normal circumstances. It is then down to individual choice of what is most important to you.
The facts this season show that Reading won 1-0 at home and Huddersfield also won 1-0 at home in the two head to head matches. In eight recent head to head overall, Huddersfield won four, Reading two and two draws. In those eight both sides won away from home once and in effect this neutral ground is an away game for both sides. Both sides won ten away games during the season, Huddersfield scored in sixteen games and Reading in seventeen of them. There is clearly very little between these two so it will be about who handles the day better.
If we look at the last eight Championship play-off finals, five had first half goals and five were Under 2.5 goals. In those eight games, only one finished as a draw, Crystal Palace and Watford ended goalless in 2013. In the five most recent finals, games have been really tight, possibly to do with the amount of money now involved for the winning team getting into the Premier League so those trends are maybe more relevant. Of those five, three were won to Nil, one was 0-0 and the other ended 2-1, so four of five were Under 2.5 goals.
On team news, Reading’s Paul McShane is still suspended after his red card in the semi-final and only Jordan Obita has a slight doubt with an ankle problem. Huddersfield look to have no problems at present. With both managers able to select pretty much their best sides, tactics may be the difference between winning and losing.
In conclusion, Reading at 12/5 (3.40) have to be considered, as there is so little between the two that they appear overpriced. Under 2.5 goals is another obvious shout if you like to bet 4/7 (1.57). Neither are bad bets but I would rather look for a bit more value. I believe that the game will start off a little cautious and unless we get an early goal, it is likely to follow the pattern of the last few finals. In the Half Time/Full Time market, Draw HT Reading FT is priced at 8.00 (7/1) and that makes some appeal, and add a smaller stake bet on Reading to win 1-0 at 10.00 (9/1). If Reading did lead 1-0 at HT then we still have an interest and if it was a goalless first half we could get both bets up with an 89th minute Reading winner!!
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