Sports Betting Weekly

Middlesbrough v Brentford

When: Saturday, 16 May 2015 @ 01:45 (FINISHED)
Where: The Riverside Stadium
Brentford have it all to do if they are going to make the short trip to Wembley for the play-off final on May 25, as the London-based outfit need to overturn a one goal deficit on Teeside, with their opponents Middlesbrough already having one foot in the final following their 2-1 win in the first leg.

That game looked to be heading for a 1-1 draw after Brentford’s Andre Gray had cancelled out Jelle Vossen’s opener, but in the 90th minute, Boro’s on loan defender, Fernando Amorebieta, picked up a loose ball and hit a fierce left-footed strike which found its way past Bees goalkeeper David Button.

The late goal will only make the mountain Brentford already had to climb even steeper, given that Boro have only lost at home three times all season – the most recent of which came as far back as mid-February – with Aitor Karanka’s men winning six out of their last seven fixtures at the Riverside.

Brentford were not one of the sides to claim a win on Teeside as the Bees were smacked 4-0 there back in September, despite Dean Whitehead receiving his marching orders with seven minutes left to play. Of course, at that stage of the game the result was already beyond doubt at 3-0, but Kike still popped up to heap more misery on Mark Warburton’s side, and that will certainly be a worry here.

The omens don’t look good for Brentford – a side who have never gone up from the play-offs in seven attempts across the leagues – while the Bees also haven’t found a way past Boro since 1964.

There is also news that Warburton incredibly won’t be at the club next year, with the board making the decision to relieve him of his duties once the season is over after he refused to work as a head coach with a sporting director above him. At Boro, however, there is no such instability, with former Real Madrid left back Karanka guaranteed his role as first team manager next season, irrespective of whether the Teesiders find themselves still in the Championship or promoted to the Premier League.

Karanka has benefitted from his contacts, making the most of former mentor Jose Mourinho’s squad depth with Championship Player of the Year Patrick Bamford, Czech Republic international Tomas Kalas and Nigerian international Kenneth Omeruo all joining on loan from Chelsea at various stages of the season, with Bamford and Omeruo staying at the club until the play-offs are done and dusted.

Bamford, in particular, has taken the league by storm with 17 league goals to his name, a haul which saw the youngster rightfully acknowledged at the end of the regular season, with Mourinho keeping one eye firmly on the former Nottingham Forest man’s progress. Whether Bamford can make the step up to be Chelsea’s third-choice striker remains to be seen, but with Didier Drogba unlikely to be retained in a playing capacity beyond this season, his time at Boro has certainly put him in the frame.

As far as this match goes, Boro are favourites at evens, with Brentford listed at 7/2 and a draw at 11/4. Middlesbrough are also 1/6 to qualify, with Brentford tipped at 11/2 to achieve the same feat.

In terms of scorers, Andre Gray has been superb for Brentford this season following his transfer from Luton Town, with 18 goals in all competitions. He is 15/2 to break the deadlock or 16/5 to score anytime. For Boro, meanwhile, Bamford unsurprisingly represents their most likely source for a goal, and the Chelsea loanee is 9/2 to net first or 8/5 to get on the scoresheet at any point.