Image of football stadium during daytime

Written by Cornermanden. The author’s opinions and predictions are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Unibet. Odds and details may change between the time of writing and when placing a bet – always check before betting.

The 46 rounds of the regular League One season have reached its conclusion. It’s now time for the play-offs, where one of four teams will be promoted to the 2nd tier of English football. These are my betting tips for League One play-offs semi-finals 1st leg.

96 Points? Not Enough
Peterborough United – Sheffield Wednesday

Peterborough United in 6th position will host Sheffield Wednesday – the team who finished on 96 points behind Ipswich Town and Plymouth Argyle in 3rd place – on Friday night. It ought to be very interesting between two teams with completely different styles of play. Peterborough are more football romantic than Wednesday, who are founded on defensive stability and offensive aerial duels and lots of pressure.

Wednesday are favourites to proceed to the Wembley final, at 1.60 to get past Peterborough over two games. They are completely equally priced for this game in Peterborough (2.65-3.40-2.65), which suggests that the bookies think that the job has to be done at home for Posh. Wednesday are a very strong home team and will surely be quite happy to take a draw back home to Yorkshire.

The key players in this game for Darren Ferguson’s team to get a decent result and have success in the play-offs, are obviously golden boot (shared with Conor Chaplin) winner Jonson Clarke-Harris and Jack Taylor and Ephron Mason-Clarke. Having the most lethal attacker in League One and probably one of the best midfielders (Taylor) is an advantage, and they must bring their A game for Posh to have any realistic chance of brushing aside Wednesday here.

For Darren Moore and his team, the key is to concede as few chances as usual and keep knocking on Peterborough’s door. If they concede one goal over these two games, I’m pretty confident that Posh won’t be so tight, so that’s a very simplistic way to look at it. 

I had my eyes on under 2.5 goals at 1.93 here, but the price has somehow dropped to 1.70 overnight. That’s a pity, because I genuinely think that this will be a low margin game (from Wednesday’s perspective, at least), with a lot of the ball belonging to Posh. Ferguson knows that the job isn’t impossible at Hillsborough, but Wednesday are a much stronger home side than on their travels. I predict a tight game, and betting on a draw at 3.40 can’t be a terrible idea.

The Flip of A Coin
Bolton Wanderers – Barnsley

4th meets 5th in what should be a remarkably even contest between two strong sides. They’ve met three times this year, and have won one each and drawn the last one. That surely doesn’t make it any easier from a punter’s perspective.

Barnsley finished higher than Bolton and are favourites to sweep them aside over two games. This means that we’ll see a Yorkshire derby at Wembley if both Wednesday and Barnsley win their semi-finals. 

Quickly on both team’s seasons: Barnsley struggled to begin with, had an amazing “middle” part of the season and have now finished quite poorly with nine goals conceded from their last three, which is awful considering how solid they’ve been defensively throughout the season. Bolton have in my view been a fairly romantic football team (i.e. playing a possession based, patient style of football) for years under Ian Evatt, but have also added a couple of robust, hard EFL players to make sure that they defend well enough. However, the reason that they’ve conceded the second fewest goals in League One, is primarily down to their offensive power (however counterintuitive that may sound); they keep the ball well and are very good at winning it back quickly. There are teams in League One – including Barnsley – who defend their box better than Bolton.

Just like in the game between Posh and Wednesday, I think the mightily impressive home team in the context (Barnsley, 16 wins out of 23 at home), will be super happy to take a draw back to Oakwell and put on a show for their fans under the lights next week. That means that the onus will be on Bolton to get a decent foundation from this game. Both play a back five and will possibly nullify each other’s threats, especially in a scenario where you’ll get a lot of 1v1 all over the pitch.

Where do I lean? The bookies are very unsure here, understandably so. 2.50-3.25-2.90 are the outcome prices in this game, which I’m not touching. Bolton have not had a lot of joy against the top teams in the division for the last two campaigns, and I think such a big occasion in front of fans with high expectations can prove to be a bit tricky.

Under 2.5 goals is now 1.77, which I’m not touching either. Call me boring, or whatever you want (except a Norwich fan, please), but I think the draw is another logical place to start. 3.25 is not a great price, but it’s a plausible outcome in my opinion.


These are my betting tips for League One play-offs semi-finals 1st leg: I’m picking both games to finish as a draw in the 1st leg. 

Feeling cheeky? Combine these outcomes and get a price of 11.05!