The race for football’s richest prize got a little feistier at the weekend. Both Fulham vs Reading and Huddersfield vs Sheffield Wednesday lived up to the hype and delivered a pair of intriguing encounters.
Fulham and Reading played out a tempestuous affair, and while the Royals will be overjoyed with the away goal taken from a 1-1 draw, the loss of key defender Paul McShane – sent off for a lunge on Kevin McDonald – will be a huge blow. It really is too close to call.
Up north, meanwhile, rivals Huddersfield and Sheffield Wednesday played out a game that resembled something like chess. But on Grass. In Yorkshire. The Terriers spurned the best of the opportunities, but with only two shots on target in the whole game you get a sense of the knife-edge atmosphere on show.
So all four teams will still fancy their chances of making the final, and that sets up a pair of rather appetising second legs on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Reading vs Fulham Betting Tips
Fulham were perhaps the better side in the first leg, and should possibly have won the match when Ryan Fredericks shot wide with the goal at his mercy. But Reading fought well despite playing the last ten minutes a man light, and they will surely fancy their chances now at their fortress Madjeski Stadium home.
They lost just two of 23 games on home soil during the regular season (W16 D5), although Fulham were no slouches on their travels either (W12 D6 L5). That explains why the bookmakers have had such a tough time separating these two sides.
But for Reading to be available at 11/5 at a ground where they have won 16 times out of 23 this term….well, that seems almost too good to miss. Long outright odds means opportunities arise in other markets too, and punters can secure 5/4 on Reading Draw No Bet and a touch under even money on the Royals with a +0.25 Asian Handicap.
As for the outcome of the tie, that’s more open ended. Fulham scored in each of their last 17 Championship matches, and a goal here would really put the cat amongst the pigeons. But with one clean sheet in fourteen, so too does the same apply at the other end of the pitch.
So here’s a fun little bet: Reading to win in extra time at 14/1. All of the above would suggest that’s a genuine possibility.
Sheffield Wednesday vs Huddersfield Betting Tips
Huddersfield may have dominated the possession and shots stats in the first leg of this tie, but the only number that really matter are those which dictate that the scoreline reads 0-0.
Remarkably, the Terriers have failed to find the net in their last four matches with the Owls, and if that trend continues on Wednesday it is almost impossible that they will find a way past their hosts.
We can expect a different outlook from the home side that’s for sure. Defensively well drilled, they will look to take the game to Huddersfield without abandoning their principles; key in stopping their opponents from netting a crucial away goal.
The Terriers have pace on the counter attack, particularly in the lively Nakhi Wells, but they will have to soak up plenty of pressure from the Sheffield outfit here. Most worrying for them is that they almost lost as many away games as they won this term (W10 D4 L9).
With Wednesday having been at this point 12 months ago, when they overcame Brighton in the play-off semi-final, they should have the nous and the experience to see off this young Huddersfield team. The 6/5 available on them to do that is fair value.