Fulham v Reading Betting Tips: Cottagers to have too much in the locker on home soil
Sports betting writer Bradley Gibbs takes a look at Saturday’s play-off semi-final between Fulham and Reading at Craven Cottage.
The first-leg-visitors did finish 3rd and so it is a bit surprising that they’re considered the outsiders of the bunch as far as earning promotion is concerned, although historically teams that finish 3rd during the regular season don’t have an amazing record in the play-offs. Last season was a fine example of this as 3rd place finishers Brighton, who very nearly went up automatically, were unsuccessful at the first hurdle in the play-offs. In fact, only five of the last ten teams to finish 3rd in the final league table have won promotion via the play-offs. Of course, this record won’t prevent Reading from going up, but facing a Fulham side who finished the season in rampant fashion might.
Given the manner in which Slaviša Jokanović’s team finished the campaign, they were definitely the team to avoid. Not only are the Cottagers the form team coming into this promotion fight, but they’re easily the highest scorers and will provide a real threat going forward. Such attacking strength – the league’s joint-highest scorers with 85 goals – is probably why Fulham are favourites to step up to the promised land via Wembley.
As far as goals go, Reading are no slouches either with 68 to their name and they too come into this scrap in decent form themselves having won each of their last two. However, the Royals have tended to concede a few goals, including two against Burton last time out. With this in mind, you can’t help but think that if this comes down to simply outscoring the opponent, then Fulham will have too much about them in the final third.
From a betting point of view, it is very hard to see Fulham not getting the job done on their own patch. The bet that catches the eye is ‘Fulham to Win & Over 1.5 Goals’. As touched on above, they made the play-offs via a late surge which saw them win five of their last six, scoring 16 goals in doing so.
When playing in front of a home crowd, Fulham really have been able to hit their stride this season with 45 goals to their name – only three teams in the entire division managed to score more goals at home. On top of this, Jokanović’s men rank highly in terms of shots on target, especially at Craven Cottage. The hosts ended the season having recorded, on average, 5.61 shots on target per home match. Only Newcastle and Norwich ranked above them in this respect. If we couple this together with the fact that, on their travels, Reading have conceded, on average, more shots on target than any other Championship team this season, it’s certainly not hard to imagine Fulham hurting the visitors here.
Having shipped no less than 48 on their travels, conceding goals on the road has been a real problem for Reading this season. In fact, it’s fair to say that the Royals have made the play-offs thanks to their useful home form rather than their performances on the road. They’ve conceded at least twice on a rather alarming 14 occasions, while ten of their 11 away defeats have seen them ship two or more goals. As touched on in the overall Championship play-off preview, Jaap Stam’s men like to play a possession game and tend to struggle when they’re prevented from doing this. Fulham, who love to come on strong at home, could easily stop the visitors from dictating the tempo and thus Reading are expected to struggle somewhat.
All things considered, Fulham will undoubtedly be looking to stamp their authority on this semi-final in the first leg and it is Slaviša Jokanović’s who’re fancied to come out on top in good style against a Reading side who’re pretty poor at the back.
Click here to read our overall Championship play-offs preview.
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