Championship weekend betting preview: Blackpool to control first 45


March is shaping up to be a make-or-break month for Blackpool. Having propelled themselves from ninth to fourth over the course of the past seven matches, the next seven games - five of them against top-half opposition - will reveal a great deal more about their promotion credentials.

Anything is possible. By the end of it, they could conceivably be in pole position for the title if they take maximum points on the last two Saturdays against Reading and Southampton.

Equally, defeat in those matches could plunge them out of the automatic picture altogether and leave them struggling to make the play-offs, particularly if they continue to make life difficult by giving themselves mountains to climb.

In last 11 league matches, Blackpool have conceded the first goal nine times. It's a surprising statistic given their sudden rise to prominence but much of their success has been down to the vast array of attacking options at Ian Holloway's disposal and his ability to change the course of games from the substitutes bench.

Of the 23 goals that Blackpool have scored in the aforementioned 11-match sample, 19 have arrived in the second half and ten of those have been plundered in the last ten minutes. But perhaps most staggering of all is the fact that the Tangerines have come from behind to win five times and rescued a point twice.

However, salvaging something from a losing position against Hull City on Friday night might be an altogether different prospect if their bad habits continue. The Tigers haven't conceded twice in a game since a 2-1 defeat at Southampton in November and they head to the Fylde coast on a run of six straight clean sheets.

The contrasting characteristics of the two teams open up all kinds of possible betting angles but it's over the course of 45 minutes where we see the biggest window of opportunity, the deal-breaker being the statistic that shows Hull reaching the interval with their goal intact in 25 out of 33 matches.

In Jack Hobbs and James Chester, the Tigers boast arguably the most formidable central defensive partnership in the division and they provide a huge platform for Hull to reap full rewards against teams liable to shoot themselves in the foot.

Given that Blackpool have only reached half-time without conceding in seven of their last 23, there's a much greater chance that Hull might be ahead at the interval than the layers appear to be crediting them with and tempted though we are by the 0-1 and 0-2 options on the half-time score market at respective odds of 11/2 and 22/1, it's the 10/3 on Hull to win the first half that gets the nod.

Recommended bet:

1pt Hull to win the first half against Blackpool at 10/3 (Blue Square)

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