It is not very often that you get an opportunity to back a league leader 12 rounds into a competition at underdog odds to win a home game but that is what bookmakers are offering with their prices on Saturday’s match between English League Two frontrunner Plymouth and Portsmouth at Home Park.
Plymouth is five points clear of Doncaster at top of the English League Two ladder more than one quarter of the way through the season and Argyle’s 9-1-2 record means that they have collected eight points more than Portsmouth, which is fourth following an up-and-down start to its campaign.
Twelve English League Two rounds is a significant chunk of a term and there is plenty of collateral form to support one’s view that Plymouth is superior to Portsmouth and that the bookmaking fraternity are making a mistake this weekend.
Plymouth and Portsmouth have had four common English League Two foes – third-ranked Carlisle, 15th-ranked Blackpool, 19th-ranked Leyton Orient and 23rd-ranked Exeter. According to one’s English League Two collateral form analysis, Plymouth boasts a 3-1-0 advantage over Portsmouth.
Plymouth and Portsmouth performed equally poorly against Carlisle – Argyle lost 0-1 on the road and Pompey drew 1-1 at home. However, Plymouth has outdone Portsmouth in their English League Two games against Blackpool, Leyton Orient and Exeter. Plymouth won 1-0 at Blackpool, won 2-0 at Leyton Orient and won 2-0 at Exeter, whereas Portsmouth lost 1-3 at Blackpool, won 1-0 at Leyton Orient and won 1-0 at Exeter.
One is a big fan of shot statistics and, while Portsmouth has had the second highest number of shots in English League Two, a high percentage of Pompey’s efforts have been off target. Portsmouth has had 185 English League Two shots to Plymouth’s 140 but, when it comes to only counting shots on target, Pompey’s 58 trails Argyle’s 71. It is a similar tale on the other side of the ball, with Portsmouth giving up an English League Two-low shots but a high percentage of those have been on target and, ultimately, Pompey have conceded three goals more than Plymouth. There is little in any set of data to suggest that Portsmouth is better than Plymouth.
Plymouth is available at odds of +240 with Marathonbet and that does not make any sense whatsoever. Plymouth is 5-1-0 in its last six home matches across all competitions and Argyle were 2-1-1 versus Portsmouth in their four English League Two meetings last season. Portsmouth is 2-2-4 away from home in various tournaments and no English League Two team has scored fewer road goals than Pompey. It is beyond belief that punters are supporting Portsmouth at favourite odds away to the English League Two’s most in-form side.
Odds somewhere around the +120 mark would be fair enough about a home team in a league game against a side rated similar in ability. It is patently obvious that Plymouth is, at the very least, on par with Portsmouth so Argyle are well and truly over their true odds at +240 . Anyone who backs Portsmouth should give up punting because they have no concept of value. And punting is all about value.
Plymouth to beat Portsmouth
Saturday 15th October, 15:00 GMT