Championship betting preview: Clean up with cagey Cotterill

 

A week before Christmas is too soon to be talking about relegation six-pointers but there will be plenty at stake when Bristol City face Nottingham Forest on Saturday and we reckon there's value to be had in backing under 1.5 goals at Ashton Gate.

A cagey encounter would be entirely in-keeping with the reputation of the two managers, both of whom are relatively new to their respective roles and still at the stage where such matches are being viewed as pivotal to overall development.

Two months might not be long enough to generate a new creative identity but it's plenty of time to drill certain basics into a squad from a tactical perspective and we expect that groundwork to be evident here with both teams focused on keeping their shape and giving nothing away cheaply.

Indeed, the template has already been set by Forest and though Steve Cotterill had his fingers burnt by late goals in 1-0 defeats at Cardiff and Brighton, we don't expect him to rip up the blueprint and go back to the drawing board for a game against a team not nearly as accomplished as those two.

Bristol City have only managed two clean sheets under McInnes but it's significant that they were achieved against West Ham and Southampton, while Middlesbrough were kept at bay for the regular 90 minutes in their last home game, so the Robins do have it in their locker to batten down the hatches and play Forest at their own game.

However, we expect the visitors to dictate the tempo of this one, so much so that we would advise a saver on Nottingham Forest to win 2-0 at 14/1, which we view as the biggest threat to our main bet. In the event of a breakthrough, things are likely to open up much more if the home side are being forced to chase the game and they could leave themselves vulnerable on the counter.

Meanwhile, Doncaster have sold their soul to Willie McKay and while they can probably kiss goodbye to the goodwill they usually receive from the rest of the Championship, they have gained what it takes to take out the occasional heavyweight and we can't resist having a nibble at the 3/1 on Leicester going the same way as Southampton did a fortnight ago.

Rovers have a deal in place with the controversial agent to secure short-term deals for players of the calibre they could only dream of previously and now the likes of Carl Ikeme, Habib Beye, Pascal Chimbonda, Herita Ilunga, Herold Goulon, El Hadji Diouf and Marc-Antoine Fortune have all rocked up to showcase their talents in the Keepmoat shop window.

We do have a lot of respect for Leicester with Nigel Pearson back at the helm and while his knowledge of the division can help him to propel the Foxes back into promotion contention, this is a rare journey into the unknown for a manager who so often has the opposition's card marked. Dean Saunders had only just picked up the Donny reins when he went head to head with the former Hull boss back in September and so much has changed since then that we see no harm in chancing the hosts at a big price.

Finally, Keith Hill's success in his first season at this level is illustrated nowhere better than in his extraordinary record over 45 minutes and we'll finish up with a bet on Barnsley to win the first half against West Ham at Upton Park. The Tykes are 5/1 to be in front at the interval and that's a great wager when you consider they have edged ahead in ten out of 21 matches so far this season.

It might sound a little half-baked to make such a meal of half-time records but you have to understand that Hill is working with a playing budget that is only a fraction of those enjoyed by most managers, yet he continually finds ways to outwit his rivals and give his team a head start. In many cases, the Yorkshire outfit have faded once the tide turns against them and the 12 points dropped from a winning position provides just cause to overlook the 11/2 about the away win.

However, over the shorter timescale, the Tykes have seized the initiative on the road at Reading, Birmingham, Derby, Leeds and Peterborough and this, combined with West Ham's notoriously patchy home form, makes light of the value to be found in the price.

Recommended bets:

1.6pts Under 1.5 goals Bristol City v Nottingham Forest at 9/4 (general)

0.4pts Nottingham Forest to win 2-0 at 14/1 (general)

1pt Doncaster to beat Leicester at 3/1 (general)

1pt Barnsley to win the first half against West Ham at 5/1 (Boylesports, Victor Chandler)

For more betting news and views, visit Bestofthebets.com

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album