EFL WEEKEND: It’s full steam ahead in the EFL again this week as the three divisions prepare for the final weekend of September action. We preview one game from each league below, alongside some of our recommended BETDAQ bets.
Southampton v Leeds – Saturday 12:30
Arguably the tie of the weekend comes from St Mary’s as Southampton host Leeds United at Saturday lunchtime. Things have gone from bad to worse for the Saints and new boss Russell Martin after a 2-1 league defeat against a then winless Middlesbrough side extended their losing run to four. That sequence has seen an alarming volume of rumours suggesting Martin could already be relieved from his duties, which is unsurprising given this is Southampton’s worst run in the Championship since 2008.
Drawing half of their league games has held Leeds back from the automatic promotion spots at this stage of the season, yet they are certainly optimistic of an immediate top-flight return. A 3-0 win against Watford last time out means they’ve gone four games without conceding a goal, with a fifth consecutive clean sheet not beyond the realms of possibility as one only needs to look back to their last promotion campaign in 2019/20 to find their last such run.
Such is the unpredictable nature of the Championship that if this game were played a month ago, many would assume Southampton would be the heavy favourites for victory. A lot has happened in that time though, and given the retrospective form of both clubs, we’re backing Leeds at 2.42 to pile more misery on their hosts.
Stevenage v Oxford United – Saturday 15:00
It’s second versus third in League One this weekend as Oxford make the trip east to Stevenage. The visitors find themselves one point off table-topping Portsmouth having played a game less, with last week’s 3-0 win over Exeter making it six wins from seven for the U’s. It marks a very promising start to the season for Liam Manning’s men, who finished 19th last campaign – at one point going 17 league games without a win between January and April.
Stevenage have equally been impressive, with last weekend’s 3-0 win over Cheltenham meaning only three teams in the league have scored more than their 14 goals from nine league games. Curiously, their away record has been twice as good as their results at home – amassing 12 points out of an available 15 on their travels so far this term (they’ve picked up six at home), so playing in front of their own fans on Saturday may actually hamper them.
This is the first time these clubs have ever met in League One, with Oxford having the better of the recent head-to-heads, winning three of the last five. They arguably seem the more complete side coming into this one, so we’re backing the away side at 3.1 to continue their good start to the season.
Colchester United v Notts County – Saturday 15:00
Colchester have been treading water in League Two for a number of seasons now, and five defeats from their opening eight league fixtures this season suggests it may be more of the same for the U’s this term. A 2-1 loss to Crewe Alexandra in their last game – where they were 2-0 down in the opening eight minutes – leaves Ben Garner’s men a point adrift of the relegation places as September draws to a close, though their fans will be relieved that only two teams will be sent down to the Football League next year.
Notts County have had very little difficulty adapting to the English Football League, winning six of their opening nine League Two fixtures and sitting top of the pile, including a manic 4-3 victory against Forest Green Rovers in their last game. It marks a highly impressive return to England’s fourth division for the Magpies, though they will be conscious of a dubious defensive record that has seen them 14 goals so far. Despite the 13-point swing between them and their opponents on Saturday, Colchester have only conceded 11!
Notts County seem a tad overvalued here, particularly given their recent form against Colchester coming into Saturday’s clash, winning three and drawing two of their last five meetings. With that in mind, backing the away side at 2.02 is the play.