We are heading to Ireland’s Premier and First Divisions and the Swedish Allsvenskan for Friday’s best bets. Our betting tips are ready for a packed day of matches. Cork City will face off against Dundalk, Drogheda United take on St. Patrick’s Athletic, Longford Town play against Finn Harps, and Hammarby IF battle it out with Brommapojkarna.
St. Pat’s are unbeaten in their last four matches and will look to add another to the tally against Drogheda which faces a goalkeeper crisis. Meanwhile, Brommapojkarna, the new boys on the block, are in good form after their promotion to Allsvenskan and will hope to continue their hot streak against a struggling Hammarby.
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Friday’s Best Bets & Predictions
Hammarby v IF Brommapojkarna
Hammarby’s season continues to drag, heading into today’s match with no victory in their last four matches, managing only two in their last 11. The newly composed squad is taking plenty of time to settle but feels imbalanced and too inexperienced. Some work will need to be done in the summer transfer window, but there are question marks as to how their strategy will be formulated, with current sporting director Jesper Jansson having one foot out the door.
On the pitch, their defensive record is the third worst in the division. They are much too susceptible to getting broken down through controlled possession and especially counter-attacking. Injuries have not helped the situation either. While keeping the ball fairly well themselves, there is often a lack of incision to break down low blocks, frustrating fans and players alike. With one of the strongest and most creative midfield trios in the division, this is somewhat of a surprise, but the lack of a settled front line can go some way in explaining their toothless nature.
Brommapojkarna, however, has taken the division by storm after crushing Superettan last season. An all-round side with plenty of ammunition and varied threats in attack, combined with a very solid defence and a performing goalkeeper, is pushing for a top 5 position. After a slow start, they have now only lost one game in their last eight, impressively winning six of those and turning the screw on their opponents. They can win games on merit, playing energetic and exciting football in the process. No one could have expected such a valiant return to the top flight, but the likes of Oscar Pettersson and Samuel Leach Holm have proven they belong and are here to stay. The latter, in particular, has been a real revelation, able to regain possession in a tidy manner while also being a driving force on the ball.
BP had a small blip the other week against Sirius but otherwise looks good value for a result in most matches, including this one against the struggling Hammarby, susceptible to fast breaks.
Cork City v Dundalk
Since parting ways with manager Colin Healy, Cork City have gone on a joint-league-best run of form, with the Rebels winning four of their last five matches. Funnily enough, St. Patrick’s Athletic have been the only other team to match that level of form in recent weeks after they also showed their manager the door.
Friday’s 1-0 win away to Drogheda United was crucial, as Cork climbed above the Louthmen and out of the relegation play-off zone as a result. Three of the four wins in recent weeks have seen Cork City come out on top 1-0, which suggests the interim management team, who now looks set to continue for the remainder of the season, have instilled solidness into the group.
Solid is one thing Dundalk are not. Despite a 4-1 win at home to UCD on Monday, the goal the Lilywhites conceded was an indictment of the defensive issues Stephen O’Donnell’s team have battled with all season. Dundalk have nearly conceded as many goals in the first 20 games of the season that they shipped in all of last year. On the other end, Dundalk have struggled to create and looks bereft of ideas at times.
The season’s first meeting between these two teams was one of the worst football games you were ever unlucky enough to witness with Cian Murphy’s goal for Cork the only shot on target by either side in the entire match.
The return fixture in Oriel only got interesting late on as Dundalk pounced late to sink nine-man Cork City with two injury-time goals.
Given how Cork City have set up under their interim management team and the fact Dundalk can throw in a dire performance at any given moment, this may not be a classic.
Drogheda United v St. Patrick’s Athletic
The last thing you need, when you are already fighting the slippery slope towards the bottom of the league is a goalkeeping crisis. It’s the one area of the pitch where no matter how much work and tactical preparation you put in as a manager, if you’ve no confidence in your keepers and more importantly your defenders don’t, then you are in big trouble.
Colin McCabe had a nightmare for Cork City’s winner on Friday as he rushed into no man’s land before being rounded by Tunde Owolabi who tapped into an empty net. That’s not the first mistake made by McCabe that has led directly to a goal this season, so Kevin Doherty was left with no choice but to drop his keeper’ for Monday’s trip to Tolka Park.
Unfortunately, Doherty did not have an experienced number two to call upon with teenager Andrew Wogan appearing to be beaten easily by a Sean Boyd header for the opening goal in a 3-2 win for Shelbourne. That now leaves Doherty with a huge decision to make, does he stick with McCabe who clearly isn’t good enough or does he stick with the inexperienced youngster? Whatever he does, the Drogheda boss desperately needs the transfer window to arrive in order to directly address the issue between the posts.
With all of that going on the arrival of a red hot in form St.Pat’s couldn’t come at a worse time, with the Saints winning four of their last five and looking sharp as razors in front of goal. Pat’s sent out a huge statement by putting four past title-challenging Derry City on Monday and now find themselves just four points off leaders Shamrock Rovers.
Pats have won their last five H2Hs versus Drogheda and with the likes of Chris Forrester and Eoin Doyle in good goal-scoring form, this could be a tricky night at the office for relegation-threatened Drogheda.
Longford Town v Finn Harps
The meeting of two teams who can’t wait for the mid-season break. It’s the clash of the two sides that are joint second bottom in the First Division as an injury-ravaged Longford host a battered and bruised Finn Harps.
Harps could only record a scoreless draw at home to the league’s whipping boys Kerry on Friday before the Donegal men were beaten 6-0 by Waterford on Monday to round off a truly dreadful Bank Holiday weekend.
Longford’s wasn’t much better in fact, in terms of points it was even worse, as they lost 1-0 to Midland rivals Athlone and 1-0 to an out of form Cobh Ramblers. Stephen Henderson was missing as many as 11 players through injury over the course of the weekend while he and three of his players were sent off across the two matches to further deepen his selection headaches.
Both teams will be eyeing this game as an opportunity to muster up some confidence going into the summer break but equally, everyone involved will be aware a defeat in this game will spark a whirlwind of negativity and darkness.
With such a cloud hanging over both teams, this could be a very cagey affair. Finn Harps came away from Longford with a 1-0 win earlier in the season thanks to a late penalty, which was the only genuine opportunity created by either side in a dour game while it ended 1-1 in the most recent meeting.
Not only have Longford failed to score in their last three games, they didn’t even come close to testing a goalkeeper in that time, while Harps have drawn a blank in four of their last five.
Longford’s only saving grace this season has been the fact they strangely have the third best defensive record in the league. Stephen Henderson has made his team hard to break down, and truth be told, both managers would probably settle for a point here in order to avoid some difficult questions over the next few weeks.
HOT STAT: Longford Town are bottom of the over 2.5 goals table this season with 12 of their 18 matches featuring less than 3 goals.
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