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Trip to Forest could prove tricky for Blades

The man with his finger on the EFL pulse

Nottingham Forest were handed a tough start to the season by the fixture computer
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Nottingham Forest v Sheffield United
The early-season mood of optimism among Nottingham Forest fans has been dampened by three successive defeats but spirits could be lifted by a victory over second-placed Sheffield United at the City Ground.

Ten games into the campaign and Forest are on 12 points – the same as they had at the same stage of last season.

But they have moved forward as a club, bringing in a good manager in Mark Warburton and some exciting players. They are likely to do much better than the fourth-bottom placing they achieved in 2016-17.

They haven’t been helped by a tough set of fixtures.

Of the teams in the top six of the Championship title betting, five have played Forest.

Sheffield United shot up to seventh in the title betting after winning six of their last seven league games and they are only two points adrift of leaders Cardiff.

However, talk of achieving a second successive promotion may be premature.

The Blades have faced only two of the division’s top eight teams and their 2-0 success at home to Wolves on Wednesday was heavily influenced by the 15th-minute dismissal of opposition defender Conor Coady.

An unchanged United side still had to work hard for their victory and some players might be feeling a little leggy as they prepare for their third match in seven days.

Forest have been more prepared to use their squad during busy periods and their extra energy could give them the advantage.

Nottingham Forest draw no bet
2pts 10-11 Betfred 

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Millwall v Barnsley

Few teams in the Sky Bet Championship would relish taking on Millwall at the Den but Barnsley have showed they enjoy a challenge and are a value bet to take a point or three in south London.

Millwall have won their last three home league fixtures and are odds-on to make it four on the spin.

However, their direct, high-intensity brand of football can be tough to carry off on a regular basis and there were signs of tiredness as the Lions won 2-1 at home to Reading on Tuesday.

It was far from a vintage Millwall performance with Neil Harris’s side registering just six shots.

Harris will want more from his team but there could be plenty of resistance offered by the Tykes who are better than their away record of no wins, one draw and three defeats suggests.

All of Barnsley’s away matches have been against teams in the current top seven and they gave an excellent account of themselves in last Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Wolves – losing out to an injury-time goal from Alfred N’Diaye.

Barnsley will view their trip to Millwall as a winnable fixture and look overpriced to take at least a point.

Barnsley or draw double chance
1pt 6-5 Betfair 

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Bury v MK Dons

Bury climbed out of the Sky Bet League One drop zone with a 3-0 victory over Oxford on Tuesday and can round off an excellent week by beating MK Dons at Gigg Lane.

The plan for Bury this season was to compete in the top half of the table but they were blown off course by early-season injuries.

However, Shakers’ manager Lee Clark has been getting closer to his first-choice team in recent weeks and Bury’s results and performances are improving.

They are unbeaten in three league games and veteran striker Jermaine Beckford has hit the goal trail – netting in each of his last four appearances.

Confidence is on the rise and it promises to be a tough game for mid-table MK Dons, who were fortunate to draw 0-0 at home to Northampton on Tuesday.

1pt 6-4 Betfair, BoyleSports

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Saturday football columns

Mark Langdon

Kevin Pullein


Mansfield v Notts County
Notts County are three points clear in Sky Bet League Two but still haven’t won the confidence of the markets and are outsiders to win their local derby at Mansfield.

A no-holds-barred clash is on the cards between two physical teams but the likelier winners are the visitors, who have showed they can play effectively in different ways.

Kevin Nolan’s men can mix it with the slick passing teams – as they did on Tuesday with a 3-0 win at promotion rivals Exeter.

But they have also overcome more direct opposition, winning 4-2 at Wycombe and 4-1 at home to Lincoln.

They have won six games in succession and can make it seven against the Stags, who were thumped 3-0 at Cheltenham on Tuesday.

Notts County draw no bet
1pt 11-8 Betfred, BoyleSports

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Of the teams in the top six of the Championship title betting, five have played Forest
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Sky bet