Bristol Rovers v Cardiff - Thursday 19:45, Sky Sports 1
The early signs were encouraging for Cardiff’s new 3-5-2 formation as they dominated possession and territory for long periods in a goalless draw at Birmingham but questions remain over where the creative spark is likely to come from, setting the stage here for Craig Noone to serve up a match-winning display that makes the number 10 position his own.
The change of system is unsettling news for Noone. An orthodox winger, he must reinvent himself as either a wing back or playmaker to stay involved but has played the latter role before, and was deployed there throughout pre-season. A late substitute at St Andrew’s, he looked lively when he came on. Now he should get the nod as part of any rotation.
As a seasoned Championship campaigner playing against weaker opposition, and with so much to prove, the 28-year-old looks a decent bet in the goalscorer markets. Take the 14/1 first goalscorer price and the 5/1 on Noone to score anytime. He bagged six goals from out wide last term, two of which came in August.
Darrell Clarke blamed poor game-management for Rovers’ opening-day defeat at Scunthorpe. The Pirates were on top for an hour and had a one-goal advantage to show for it but allowed a big momentum swing after Kevin Van Veen’s 66th-minute equaliser. Clarke admits he is three or four players short of full-strength but is happy to play the waiting game in the transfer window.