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Nic Ladds 11th May 2011 - 9:53

Nottm Forest the value bet against Swansea

The play-off lottery begins with third-placed Swansea travelling to sixth-placed Nottingham Forest.

Only five points separated the two sides in the league and both have played some quality football across the season.

Nottingham Forest (13/10) have made it into the play-offs on the back of one of the best home records in the league. Just two defeats on home soil in the league is a joint-low and if they want to make it to Wembley - they have to keep that kind of form up in this leg as Swansea give nothing away on their ground.

Swansea (11/5) missed out on an automatic spot by just four points and are also here due to an amazing home record. One worry for Swansea will be their away record this season, the lost 11 times on the road which is the highest amount of away defeats among the top nine teams in The Championship.

Swansea got an impressive away win at Milwall in their penultimate match of the season but before that they lost four of their previous five - and two of those defeats came at relegated Preston and Scunthorpe.

For me, with Nottm Forest needing a result at home and Swansea's away record being pretty poor this season - I like the look of a home win here. At odds-against at home, which is rare for Forest, play-offs or not, it seems the value bet in this clash at 13/10.

Forest also come into this clash on the back of four straight wins which has seen them score 14 goals so confidence will be high.

The Tricky Trees also won the league meeting at home 3-1 (20/1 for a repeat here) and are unbeaten in five league meetings at The City Ground against them. All the facts are stacking up in favour of a home win although we all know form can go out of the window under the pressure of the play-offs.

The home side will have to be careful of conceding an away goal though, Swansea have found the net at least once in 17 of their 23 away games in the league.

I do like the look of both teams to score at 17/20, a bet that would have paid out in 65% of Championship play-off semi-final first-legs in the last 10 seasons.

The first-semi final play-off has produced the team that went on to be promoted in six of the last seven seasons. For those of you who believe in trends then you can back Swansea to be promoted at 9/4 but the bet for me has to be Nottm Forest to go up at 3/1 outsiders.

They could, and probably should, build up a decent lead in this first-leg encounter. They easily have the players and the form to take a two or three goal lead to the Liberty Stadium which is why I like the look of the 2-0 and 3-0 scorelines at 10/1 and 22/1 respectively.

If you really fancy Swansea for the match then look towards them in the draw no bet market at 6/5 but I much prefer the home side - for the braver amongst you I would back Forest -1 at 18/5 and also them to qualify at Evens.



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