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League One Play-Off Betting Tips – Stevenage Borough v Sheffield United Preview

A general view of the Stevenage team during a training session (credit: Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
The League One play-offs get underway on Friday night, with Stevenage playing host to Sheffield United in the first leg of their semi-final tie.

Betfair Match Odds: Stevenage 2.64, Draw 3.40, Sheffield United 2.96

With Sheffield United's 92 goals and 90 points this season, it's hard to think they now have to progress via the play-offs after such a tremendous term. Danny Wilson's side have been electric at various points throughout the campaign, but ultimately a late wobble put paid to their automatic chances.

The Blades rolled around like a drunk for the last three games, and the crucial 1-0 loss to MK Dons three weeks ago was a killer blow. To compound matters, fierce rivals Wednesday secured Championship football with last weekend's 2-0 win over Wycombe, much to the chagrin of the backers at long odds-on in the promotion market.

Stevenage on the other hand are the form team and secured their spot in the play-offs with a 3-0 rout of Bury on Saturday. Manager Gary Smith has outlined this match to be quick and physical, a game which ought to suit the hosts. Smith will instil no fear in his men, and they will need to take an advantage into the return leg at Bramall Lane. United trade as favourites at 3.05 to go up, with Stevenage the outsiders available to back at 5.5.

Recent History

These two locked horns only a fortnight ago, with the sides splitting the points in a thrilling 2-2 draw. United were sloppy in possession early and were picked off by the Borough midfield to gain a 2-0 advantage. The Blades showed their mettle in rescuing a point but were caught out for the two goals on the counter attack with Stevenage looking more dangerous on the break.

November's encounter resulted in a 2-1 win for Stevenage - then under the stewardship of Graham Westley. Sheffield United were bombarded aerially on that occasion - which was the Westley way. However under Smith they play a bit more football and look to move the ball quickly out wide

Team form

Stevenage have an impressive home record, and have made the Lamex a tough place to gain a result. Having lost only three games in Hertfordshire all season, their defensive record is equally impressive in conceding only 23 goals during the same amount of games.

The Yorkshire outfit have not been as impressive away from Bramall Lane - losing seven times, but they have won 11 despite recently losing their attacking sparkle. Ignore last weekend's 2-2 draw at Exeter, as they had no option but to 'go for it', they'll be much tighter here.

Key players

The hosts have a muscular threat up front with Patrick Agyemang, whilst midfielder Luke Freeman pulls some strings with his forward runs and threat. The Blades have the graceful Kevin McDonald who alongside Lee Williamson provides a real driving force in the centre. McDonald can pick a pass with great vision, Borough will need to get hold of him.

Team news

Sheffield United are the ones with problems, their attack is thin on options with Danny Wilson having only two recognised strikers available in Chris Porter and Richard Cresswell. In recent games the Blades have had to attack due to Sheffield Wednesday's league position, and it's unlikely Wilson will be so gung-ho here.

Interesting facts

Sheffield United have reached the play-offs on five occasions, but have lost on all five. They trade at 1.54 in the 'To Qualify' market, whereas the hosts are priced up at 2.60. Borough are seeking their third successive promotion and seven of their current squad featured in the Conference in 2009-2010.

Recommended Bets:

Back Under 2.5 Goals @ 1.9
Back Stevenage to win 1-0 @ 8.8
Back Draw/Stevenage in HT/FT @ 7.0
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League One Play-Off Betting Tips – Stevenage Borough v Sheffield United Preview

The League One play-offs get underway on Friday night, with Stevenage playing host to Sheffield United in the first leg of their semi-final tie.

Read more »