The presence of Portsmouth in English League Two means that there is value for punters willing to oppose Pompey, the fourth-tier sleeping giant that bookmakers fear to lay.
Portsmouth lifted aloft the English FA Cup in 2008 and, with Pompey attracting an average of 16,557 fans to their English League Two matches, their financial budget is the envy of their 23 divisional rivals. The default position is for bookmakers to quote short odds about Portsmouth doing anything positive in English League Two, whether it be winning an individual game or collecting some silverware.
In its fourth consecutive English League Two campaign, Portsmouth is fifth on the ladder, albeit having played one match fewer than first-placed Doncaster, third-placed Carlisle and fourth-placed Luton and having fulfilled one game more than second-placed Plymouth. With bookmakers, Portsmouth is the third favourite for promotion, behind Doncaster and Plymouth but ahead of Carlisle and Luton.
One was sorely tempted to nominate Carlisle as the pick for this week’s Rags To Riches column in which one nominates a long-priced selection that has a live and underrated chance of paying a dividend. Carlisle will entertain Portsmouth in English League Two action at Brunton Park on Saturday and one thinks that bookmakers are paying insufficient respect to the Cumbrians in one of the matches of the round. One could not quite pull the trigger on Carlisle at underdog game odds, preferably to focus on Walsall one tier higher.
But one is convinced that Carlisle represent value at odds of +100 to gain promotion from English League Two, by either being in the top three on the ladder following 46 rounds or taking out the play-offs series. SkyBet is the bookmaker which is going out of its way to risk Carlisle when other firms are quoting the Cumbrians as odds-on chances.
Carlisle is third on the English League Two ladder, five points clear of fourth-placed Luton and an additional point ahead of Portsmouth. Carlisle has lost the fewest English League Two matches – four compared to the next best tally of six by Doncaster – and, if the Cumbrians miss out on one of English League Two’s three automatic promotion berths, they should be hard to roll in the play-offs over two legs in the semi-finals and under pressure in the Wembley Stadium final.
With 14 English League Two fixtures left to fulfil, Carlisle has home games against the teams ranked fourth, fifth, 12th, 13th, 19th and 24th to come, plus away matches versus the sides in second, sixth, eighth, 15th, 20th, 21st and 22nd place. One has assessed the English League Two runs home of the serious promotion contenders and it is one’s considered opinion is that Carlisle’s task is harder than that of Doncaster, similar to those of Portsmouth and easier than that of Plymouth and Luton. Doncaster looks nailed on to escape English League Two at the first time of asking but Plymouth’s remaining fixtures, which include trips to the sides ranked first, fourth, fifth, seventh, eighth, ninth, 15th and 21st, are demanding and mean that Argyle is vulnerable to be overtaken at the business end of the season.
One thinks that not one but two English League Two automatic promotion spots are in play and Carlisle has a better than 50-50 chance of securing one of them, not to mention a good shot at winning the play-offs if it ends up in the repechage. Carlisle is listed at odds as low as -182 with 32Red and one is more in line with those prices than the +100 that Sky Bet is dangling like a carrot.
Carlisle to win promotion from League Two
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