, League Two Play-offs: 2nd Leg Picks

League Two Play-offs: 2nd Leg Picks

Ninety minutes is all that separates two of the League Two play-off contenders from a Wembley date to decide who joins Burton, Shrewsbury and Bury in League One next season. Both away teams return to familiar territories as favourites to progress after the first leg results, but both ties are far from over with all four teams still in with a shout of progressing. Let’s take a closer look and see if we can’t eek out some betting value….

Wycombe Wanderers (3) v (2) Plymouth Argyle

Wycombe looked to be coasting to Wembley after racing into a three goal lead in the first leg but a spirited Plymouth fightback saw the deficit reduced to a single goal. Taking any away win in the first of two legs should be seen as a cracking result and this is no exception, however Plymouth’s late double strike could see a vital swing of momentum in this tie. Looking at the recent meetings between the two shows that we should not have been surprised to see the away side prevail in the first leg; in fact all of the four previous matches have seen the hosts defeated to nil and last weekend’s reverse made it five defeats on the bounce for home sides. Plymouth’s last away game in the regular season saw the Pilgrims run out 2-0 winners against League One bound Shrewsbury so confidence will be high and the momentum of the late double strike will certainly give the Green Army hope reaching Wembley for the first time.

Wycombe welcome back Glovesman Matt Ingram who missed his first game of the season in the first leg, however the 25 goals conceded at Adams Park during the regular season is cause for concern. Top scorer Paul Hayes opened the scoring in the first leg victory before being forced off at the break so his fitness could also be key to Wycombe coming through this tie. Plymouth’s place in the post season is thanks largely to their form at Home Park as they have not faired well on their travels. Eleven defeats on the road this season is not promotion form.

Given the Pilgrims’ poor traveling form, the thirteen point difference between the two sides after 46 regular season games and Wycombe’s one goal advantage you’d have to fancy The Chairboys to progress, although the bookies chalking up 1/6 on Wycombe to make it to Wembley must have left the first tie five minutes early and failed to notice the two late strikes which have put Plymouth firmly back in with a shout. Momentum will be with the visitors and against a side who concede more goals than they score in the first half at home (10 v 14) it’s hard to see a Wycombe clean sheet in this one. Take the 4/5 on both teams to score and the 21/20 on over 2.5 goals.

Southend Utd. (1) v (1) Stevenage

Both teams will have felt the effects of the first leg in what was a bruising encounter at the Lamex. Keith Stroud showed seven yellow cards in the first leg which saw both sides going toe to toe. Stevenage deserved their lead but Southend grew into the contest and finishing all square was probably a fair reflection on the game. I’d expect Stevenage to approach the second leg in a similar fashion as they try to put the hosts on the back foot early on, however Southend’s home form, their defence in particular, has been outstanding this term. Just nine gals conceded all season at Roots Hall shows the task Stevenage face if they are to make it to Wembley.

Both teams’ skippers will be assessed prior to the game with Southend’s John White suffering with a hamstring issue and Graham Westley’s leader Ronnie Hendry also struggling with a hip issue. Michael Timlin is unlikely to have recovered from the head injury that saw his involvement in the first leg finish prematurely, ‘Boro’s Adam Marriott is a long term absentee as his side have struggled on the road. You have to go down as far as AFC Wimbledon in 14th position to find a team with fewer away wins this season, and a trip to Roots Hall where the hosts have been defeated only three times all season is not the ideal place to try and turn that away form around.

Given how the first leg unfolded and Southend’s miserly defence I don’t see this being the goal-fest we have come to expect from play-off games in recent times, a thought shared by the bookies as the Under 2.5 goals is a best price 13/20. Instead Southend to win inside 90 minutes looks a solid bet at 19/20 but for a little more value split your stake between a win in 90 minutes and to win to nil at 19/10. A small wager on the Shrimpers to win 2-0, a repeat of the score the last time the two teams met in Essex, can be found at 15/2.

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