Sports Betting: Bolton have right Coca-Cola recipe

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Punters who took the advice of this column and backed Wimbledon, at 25-1, and Middlesbrough, at 9-1, for the Coca- Cola Cup will not need any further financial interest in the competition, which reaches the quarter-final stage this week. Both face difficult tasks.Wimbledon travel to Bolton, while Middlesbrough, so ravaged by ill-health that Bryan Robson has returned to first-team duty just short of his 40th birthday, entertain the hot favourites for the competition, Liverpool.

Given that they will be playing away, though, against a side which at last has realistic prospects of actually winning something, Liverpool are poor value at a best price of 7-4. The problem for backers who missed a big price about one of their rivals, however, is who can be backed to oppose them.

This competition is generally won by a side in the top half of the Premiership for whom it is the only serious chance of a place in Europe (Aston Villa were a stand-out bet at 7-2 at this stage last year). Unfortunately, this time around no one fits the description, since Middlesbrough and Southampton face a relegation struggle and Wimbledon have every chance of a top-four finish. Leicester, too, will be more concerned with staying in the Premiership, and if there is any value left, it may lie with a side which expects to be playing in the top flight next season - Bolton.

The Wanderers' impressive home form gives them every chance against Wimbledon this week, and should work in their favour in the home leg of the semi- final. The winners of this tie might meet Liverpool or Boro, of course, but it is a 1-2 chance that they will play one of the lesser lights, and at 9-1 with the Tote, Bolton are worth an interest.

COCA-COLA CUP: Best odds: 7-4 Liverpool (T), 5-1 Wimbledon (C,H,L), 11- 2 Middlesbrough (H,T), 7-1 Leicester (C,H,L), Southampton (H,L), 9-1 Bolton (T), 18-1 Ipswich (C), 20-1 Stockport (C,H,L,T).

l C Coral, H Hills, L Ladbrokes, T Tote.