Sports Betting Weekly

AFC Bournemouth v Middlesbrough

When: Saturday, 21 March 2015 @ 17:15 (FINISHED)
Where: Goldsands Stadium
In what is undoubtedly the biggest Football League match of the weekend, the race for automatic promotion in the Championship will take a huge turn as second-placed Middlesbrough take on third-placed AFC Bournemouth in the early kick-off.

With fellow automatic promotion rivals Derby County facing Wolves and Norwich City hosting an in-form Nottingham Forest, Boro can potentially open up some serious breathing room if they can follow up on their impressive 1-0 win at Derby in midweek.

Should Boro depart Dorset with all three points, they would not only go top by a point, but also be a huge five points ahead of the Cherries while piling further pressure on Norwich and Watford, who are both in action later in the day.

The Teeside outfit have won three out of their last four games, coming unstuck at Forest, but impressively defeating fellow promotion hopefuls, Ipswich and Derby, with a 3-0 win over relegation-threatened Millwall thrown in for good measure.

Boro also have the added psychological advantage of knowing that all is far from lost if they are defeated, as even if this is the case, should Watford slip up against Ipswich and lose, Boro would remain in second place courtesy of their superior goal difference.

Manager Aitor Karanka has seemingly got Boro to turn a corner after previously winning one in four before that impressive run and will now be seeking to take his side back to the Premier League for the first time since 2009. It will be far from an easy task, however, as Bournemouth have had an excellent season themselves. Manager Eddie Howe has comfortably enhanced his ever-growing reputation as a keen tactician this season and his Cherries side have been majestic at times.

This has been shown by their incredible form at the Goldsands, where Bournemouth have lost just three times in the league this campaign and have been prevented from finding the net just once – against Blackburn in a 0-0 draw. Indeed, it is their away form that has let them down in regards to cementing an automatic promotion spot with just two wins in their last seven away fixtures, but on home soil, Howe’s men will certainly fancy their chances here.

Bournemouth also know that a victory against Boro will put them top of the league by a point, where they would remain irrespective of what happens in the Norwich and Derby matches later in the day.

The market makes for very interesting reading going into the match, with the bookies declaring Bournemouth narrow favourites at 13/10. Boro, on the other hand, are priced at 13/5, with a draw available at 5/2.

Both sides’ successful seasons have partially been down to the presence of a lethal finisher in front of goal – and with Bournemouth’s £3 million man, Callum Wilson, and Boro’s on-loan Chelsea striker, Patrick Bamford, the two sides have not been lacking up top.

Wilson has adapted from League One football incredibly well and has 19 goals in all competitions to his name this season. Bamford, meanwhile, has racked up 16 goals, including four in his last four games – with perhaps the most important being the winner in the 1-0 victory over Derby.

For this fixture, Wilson to be the game’s first goalscorer is on at 21/4, while you can get him as an anytime goalscorer at 7/4. Alternatively, Bamford is 7/1 to bag first and 3/1 to continue his hot streak in front of goal and score at any point. If, however, you are feeling as if one of the two marksmen will completely run the game by scoring a hat-trick, you can get Wilson to do so at 50/1 and Bamford at 100/1.