After an incredible weekend in the FA Cup, and MK Dons strengthening their play-off credentials, we’re looking at some of the biggest Market Movers.
In 2006, Boreham Wood were in the eighth tier of professional football. Three promotions since then has them in the hunt for another promotion, this time from the National League.
After beating Barnet, Eastleigh and St Albans, they faced League One Wimbledon for a place in the fourth round. A 2-0 victory rewarded them with a trip to Championship Bournemouth, knowing Everton awaited should they win.
Luke Garrard’s side were backed from 11/1 into 6/1 by kick-off and were 15/2 to win in 90 minutes just before Mark Ricketts’ goal and were never bigger than evens to qualify for the remainder of the game despite a few late scares.
Anyone looking for giant killings was left bitterly disappointed, with West Ham and Chelsea breaking Kidderminster and Plymouth hearts.
Kidderminster were 14/1 at kick-off to beat a strong West Ham side and came into 5/1 after full-back Alex Penny’s cool finish. They were as short as 6/4 to qualify at half-time and – you might want to cover your eyes for this bit – 1/20 before Declan Rice smashed the ball into the roof of the net in stoppage time.
However just as it looked like penalties were looming and Harriers would get one more shot at an upset, the Hammers won it with the last kick of extra-time, with David Moyes admitting his side was lucky to progress.
Plymouth experienced similar heartache at Stamford Bridge, up against a side with over £300m worth of talent. Argyle were backed from 33/1 into 22/1 and were 12/1 to win after Macaulay Gillesphey’s header, and were 9/2 to qualify just before Cesar Azpilicueta’s equaliser.
The visitors seemed to have been thrown a lifeline and were as short as 9/4 to qualify when awarded a penalty in extra-time, but Ryan Hardie’s penalty was saved, and Chelsea made the fifth round.
Sheffield United were backed from 8/1 into 13/2 to win the league and were 5/2 for promotion with optimism high that Slavisa Jokanovic could once again work his magic in the second tier of English football with his attacking brand of football.
Unfortunately, he got off to a poor start and had to wait until the sixth game of the season to register the first win in the Championship when beating Peterborough with the Blades now at 33/1 for the title and 5/1 for promotion.
They were never really able to gather momentum under the Serb, spending just three days in the top half, and drifting to 100/1 for the title, 12/1 for promotion and 10/3 for the top six after the 0-0 draw with Coventry, as pressure started to mount.
He did record a victory over Reading in his next game, but was apparently not given the assurances he wanted ahead of the January transfer window, and was let go with the South Yorkshire side 9/1 for promotion and 11/4 for the top six.
Paul Heckingbottom was quickly installed as replacement, leaving many fans increasingly frustrated at how the club was being run, but to his credit, the Blades have turned their season around.
Several postponements have limited Heckingbottom to just eight league games in charge, but following the win on Friday night against Birmingham, they’ve taken 19 points from a possible 24.
They’re now three points behind sixth-place West Brom with two games in hand, and are 8/11 for a top-six finish.
MK Dons had been backed from 20/1 to 16/1 to win League One and from 5/2 into 2/1 for the top six; many seeing them as a play-off contender, with Russ Martin impressing.
Unfortunately, he impressed Swansea so much that he left before the start of the season.
Liam Manning arrived and MK Dons were out to 13/2 for promotion after the defeat to Sunderland in mid-August, and just one win in their opening four cast doubts on their play-off credentials but since that opening spell, only Rotherham have taken more points than the Dons.
Scott Twine and Mohamed Eisa have contributed to 29 goals between them, and they don’t seem to have felt the absence of midfielder Matt O’Riley too much – the 21-year-old scored seven and made five in the first half of the season before Celtic signed him in mid-January.
They were back out to 7/1 for promotion after the 1-0 home defeat to bottom of the table Doncaster just two weeks ago, but with Sunderland dropping more points at the weekend and the Dons making it three wins on the spin, they’re into 4/9 for a top-six finish and 7/2 to go up.
While automatic promotion certainly wasn’t out of Portsmouth’s reach in pre-season, a top-six finish seemed more likely with Danny Cowley looking to build on the final couple of months of the 2020-21 campaign – dropped points to Accrington twice in the final two weeks of the season costing them a play-off spot.
Three straight wins to start the season saw Pompey shorten from 11/1 to 6/1 to win the league, from 7/2 to 2/1 to go up and were odds-on at 4/6 to finish in the top six, but just one win in the next 10 had them just three points above the bottom four and out to 40/1 for the title.
They then took 20 points from a possible 24 to leave themselves on the brink of the play-off places before again falling foul of a poor run of form, most recently losing to Oxford. It was bet365’s worst result of the weekend from the EFL as two late goals saw the 20/1 hosts beat 10-man Portsmouth.
No wins in five has left Cowley’s men drift from 13/8 to 12/1 for a top-six finish, desperately needing another good run of wins to save their season.
By Steve Freeth