With the Championship season fast approaching, football betting fans are no doubt thinking about which bets they are going to place on the first weekend of matches.
One of the most popular markets will surely be the first team to score, so the Punter decided to scour through the record books to tip up which teams to keep an eye on!
Our first port of call is Cardiff City, who were once again denied in the play-offs last season.
Despite that heartache, the Bluebirds were masters of the early goal, striking 16 times in the first 15 minutes of their regular-season matches last term and a further ten times between the 16th and 30th minutes.
And while not all of those will have been first goals, it certainly serves as an indication that Cardiff tend to come out of the blocks quicker than other teams in the division.
Their 26-goal total in the first half an hour of matches was bettered only by bitter rivals Swansea, who were promoted, and, perhaps surprisingly, Watford.
The Hornets notched on 14 occasions in the opening 15 minutes and 28 times in total in the first 30 minutes of their 46 matches.
And with their boss, Malky Mackay, being snapped up by Cardiff over the summer, we can realistically expect the Welsh side to continue their early-scoring ways this term.
Promoted Peterborough also showed an ability to hit the ground running last season, firing 28 goals in the first half an hour of their League One matches, with 15 coming in the first 15 minutes and 13 arriving in the second 15.
However, it remains to be seen how their attacking potency is impacted by the step up in class, so taking a watching brief with the Posh for now is probably the best option.
The same can be said for the three teams relegated from the Premier League – West Ham, Blackpool and Birmingham – who must all prove they can hit the back of the net early with regularity as they push for promotion.
Another team on my radar are Bristol City, who fired 14 of their 62 goals in the first 15 minutes of matches, representing a ratio of 22%, compared to the divisional average of 14%.
There are, of course, three other ways of approaching this market.
The most plausible of those is to see which teams have an unfortunate knack of conceding early goals and then look to bet on their opponents scoring first!
Interestingly, Leicester City conceded 12 goals in the first 15 minutes of their matches last season and a further 14 between minutes 16 and 30.
This represents 37% of all the 71 goals they conceded, which was notably higher than the divisional average for goals conceded in the first half an hour (29%).
Sven’s men are expected to be stronger this year, but it is not unreasonable to suggest that with all their new signings, a touch of complacency will remain at the start of their games as they expect the opposition to roll over.
Another surprising inclusion here are Hull, who proved fairly obdurate opponents over the course the season, only conceding 51 goals – but, like Leicester, 37% of those came in the first half an hour.
Furthermore, the Tigers conceded 11 goals in the first 15 minutes, representing almost 22% of their total, which was a substantially worse ratio than any other side and compared unfavourably to an average of 14% across the Championship.
The other two arguments are, in the Punter’s humble opinion, less plausible as reasons for backing certain teams in first goalscorer betting, but certainly useful for knowing when to avoid this market altogether.
Firstly, bettors could find teams who do not tend to concede early goals. For the record, the teams who conceded the lowest percentage of their total goals in the first 15 minutes last term were Coventry (four out of 58) and Reading (five out of 55).
The second approach is to pinpoint teams who struggle to score in the early stages of their matches and either back their opponents to break the deadlock or steer clear of the market.
A number of sides showed they lacked the killer touch in the first 15 minutes of their matches, but the worst culprits were Portsmouth (only three of 53 goals scored in total), Ipswich (only five of 62 goals scored in total) and Crystal Palace (only four of 44 in total).
And with the Tractor Boys travelling to Bristol City for their opening fixture, the 19/20 odds available for the Robins to open the scoring must surely be worth a flutter.
So, here’s a summary:
Best teams to bet on in first goalscorer market: Cardiff, Bristol City, Watford
Best teams to bet against in first goalscorer market: Hull, Portsmouth, Ipswich, Crystal Palace, Leicester
Best teams to watch as potential first goalscorer: Peterborough, West Ham, Blackpool, Birmingham
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