MK Dons are one of four Football League bets from top tipster Mike Holden on Saturday.
In fact, the exhibit most under the microscope went totally against market expectations as Bolton landed odds of 16/5 to beat Blackburn, when all circumstantial evidence appeared to favour Paul Lambert’s men. It was a result that presumably frustrated many, enough to make the whole premise seem like a red herring. But what if the only thing wrong with those bets was the timing?
As humans, we have a tendency to relate cause and effect in a linear way, yet teams went into those games on Monday and Tuesday acutely aware of the preceding conditions and maybe adjusted their efforts accordingly. What if the position of maximum opportunity is the game after, when the prior schedule is no longer the primary focus?
My four selections for Saturday all follow this chain of thought, that a delayed advantage will be gained as a knock-on effect of nature’s - or in one case, Sky's - intervention on Boxing Day. And whereas punters were forced to pay a premium by taking short prices on Monday and Tuesday, there’s no perceptible tax imposed by the layers when backing the favoured teams this time around.
In League Two, it’s easy to forget which four games were postponed because six of the eight teams played each other next time out, while the other two - Carlisle and Hartlepool - didn’t play at all. Among the six, Notts County and Morecambe served up a pulsating 2-2 draw at Meadow Lane and if those two teams replicate those standards, they are both capable of landing big prices five days on.
Morecambe’s season has followed a familiar path. Written off as rags before a ball had been kicked, Jim Bentley’s competitive nature had them tearing out of the blocks into a false position, only for reality to bite once ideas about a promotion push were starting to be entertained. After 14 matches, the Shrimps were seventh but eight subsequent games have yielded just five points.
However, with key players like Andy Fleming, Laurie Wilson and Tom Barkhuizen all back from injuries and gradually returning to full match fitness, the Lancashire minnows are perfectly capable of beating Wycombe at 7/2. The Chairboys head into this on the back of three successive wins but their festive exertions against Luton and Crawley could have a taxing effect.
Under Moniz, the emphasis for Notts was always on all-out attack and a system that attempted to boil matches down to one-v-one duels all over the pitch. In recent weeks, it backfired though, with the Magpies conceding 17 goals in their last seven matches. One assumes the transition from an ambiguous philosophy back to something more basic is already being embraced by the players.
Granted, Crewe are the weakest team in the division over 24 matches based on shot data, but their standards perennially improve during the winter months and they’d be outside of the relegation zone were it not for stoppage-time blows against Shrewsbury and Doncaster. If the Railwaymen can stick to the mean of their December standards, odds of 5/2 would be more appropriate than 4/1.
After all the controversy surrounding Leeds’ televised fixture with Derby on Tuesday, and the monumental effort Steve Evans coaxed from his players in holding the Rams to a 2-2 draw, the Yorkshire club might be vulnerable now the spotlight has moved away and those exertions could take their toll against a team that boasts the best possession figures in the league.
The trebles on the above four selections range between 70/1 and 94/1. The four-timer pays 351/1. Spread a point five ways between those permutations and you'd be looking at a windfall of around 135 points if all four teams did the business.