Home Sports Football Championship Brewers no match for in-form Cardiff
Brewers no match for in-form Cardiff

Brewers no match for in-form Cardiff

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Cardiff City boss Neil Warnock will come up against a side he managed more than three decades ago when the Bluebirds take on Burton Albion on Friday.

The 69-year-old was in charge of the Brewers between 1981 and 1986 when the club were in the Northern Premier League.

Four promotions later and Burton are currently in the Championship although their two-year spell in English football’s second tier looks set to be coming to an end.

In contrast, Cardiff are attempting to return to the Premier League for the first time since they were relegated in 2014.

Three mid-table finishes in the Championship did not suggest the Bluebirds would be involved in a promotion bid this term, but they appear to be on course to join Wolves in the Premier League in August.

Warnock’s side, who have not lost since New Year’s Day and have won their last seven matches, can be backed at 19/4 to repeat the 1-0 victory they enjoyed at Burton on the opening day of the campaign almost eight months ago.

Nigel Clough’s side have taken just six points from their last 10 fixtures, only scoring six times in that sequence, so a Cardiff clean sheet on Friday at 10/13 should not be ignored.

Preston have been outstanding on their travels this season in only losing three of their 19 matches away from Deepdale. They can enhance their play-off push by beating mid-table Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough at odds of 6/4.

It promises to be a tight affair but victory by a one-goal margin for Alex Neil’s side appears to be good value at 11/4.

Millwall have emerged as surprise play-off contenders after putting together a 12-match unbeaten run and they can extend that sequence by beating a mid-table Nottingham Forest side that have little to play for.

The Lions have won 15 matches this season but 10 have been by one-goal margins and that could be the case on Friday, with a 1-0 victory for Millwall available at 11/2.

Chris Coleman’s appointment as Sunderland manager has failed to galvanise the Black Cats, who can be backed at 4/25 to be relegated again 12 months after coming down from the Premier League. Since beating Hull City 1-0 in mid-January, Sunderland have taken just three points from a possible 30 and seem certain to be playing in League One next season.

Derby’s form has been poor recently – they are winless in seven matches – but they should be able to get their top-six push back on track by recording a routine victory against Coleman’s hapless team. A 2-0 victory for the fifth-placed Rams is available at 23/4 while a Derby victory from behind can be backed at 11/2.

Middlesbrough’s six-match unbeaten run will be put to the test when table-topping Wolves visit Teesside. Boro slumped to a 1-0 loss at Molineux on the opening day of the season but have found goals easy to come by recently, scoring three times in four of their last six Championship encounters.

A draw seems the most likely outcome at the Riverside Stadium at odds of 21/10, with a 1-1 result available at 19/4.

Third-placed Fulham can extend their 16-match unbeaten run by edging to victory against mid-table Norwich City at Carrow Road.

Despite enduring a poor first half to the campaign, the Cottagers are eight points better off than at this stage of last season and have a relatively easy run-in given they face Sunderland and Birmingham City in their last two matches.

The Canaries have had a very inconsistent season but have only lost one of their last 10 games although six of those have been drawn. A victory by a one-goal margin for Slavisa Jokanovic’s in-form Fulham can be backed at 14/5.

After taking 20 points from their first nine matches and topping the table, it appeared Leeds United were finally on course to return to the Premier League for the first time since being relegated in 2004.

However, they have imploded and since Boxing Day have only managed to pick up eight points from a possible 42. It has been quite a fall from grace and the Elland Road side now look set to have to settle for a bottom-half finish.

They may draw on Friday against a Bolton side moving steadily away from the relegation zone after enduring a dreadful start to the campaign. A draw in West Yorkshire can be backed at 49/20.

Barnsley and Bristol City have both been in poor form of late, with the Tykes failing to ease their relegation fears after a run of one win in 19, while the Robins’ promotion push has stalled after a sequence of just three victories in their last 14 Championship fixtures.

It promises to be a low-scoring affair at Oakwell and odds on there being under 1.5 goals in the encounter are available at 11/5.

Brentford and Sheffield United appear to be two evenly matched teams but home advantage could be crucial on Friday, with a victory for the Bees by a one-goal margin available at 53/20 while a 1-0 Brentford victory can be backed at 33/4.

Since losing 3-2 at Norwich in their last game, Reading have parted company with Jaap Stam and replaced him with Paul Clement. The former Derby and Swansea boss faces a tricky first match in charge against QPR as he attempts to steer the Royals away from relegation danger.

Reading had 67 points after 38 games last season and eventually finished in the play-offs, but their fall from grace has been acute and they currently have just 36 points after a run of one victory in 18 matches.

QPR have been inconsistent this term and it will be typical of Ian Holloway’s team to follow up a 3-1 victory at Aston Villa and 2-2 draw against Fulham by losing to Reading. A victory for Clement’s side appears to be good value at odds of 29/20.

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Mark Race Having worked in the media for nearly 30 years, Mark knows his sport inside out and at all levels. An avid football fan, Mark also has serious knowledge of the tennis world and is quick to point out value bets in a number of other sports.