How the Bookies See it:
- Match Winner: Fulham 7/10, Draw 11/4, Reading 7/2 - Paddy Power
- First Goalscorer: Chris Martin (FUL) 9/2, Cyriac (FUL) 11/2, Sone Aluko (FUL) 11/2 - Bet365
- To Qualify: Fulham 2/5, Reading 7/4 - Sky Bet
- Fulham finished the season with a flourish, overtaking Leeds United to surge into the play-offs and claim sixth spot. They won five of their final six matches, including a 2-1 victory away to fellow promotion hopefuls Sheffield Wednesday on the last day.
- Reading also ended the Championship campaign strongly, winning seven of their last nine matches to end up in third place. The Royals kept the momentum going in their final game as they withstood a Burton Albion comeback to triumph 4-2 at the Pirelli Stadium.
- Fulham hammered Reading 5-0 when the teams met at Craven Cottage in December, running in three late goals after Danny Williams was sent off in the second half. Chris Martin scored twice in that game, but had a late penalty saved in the reverse fixture as Reading took their revenge with a 1-0 win.
Both teams go into the play-offs in fine form, but Fulham are the marginal favourites with bookmakers after a tremendous recent run. No team scored more goals in the Championship this season and they have an abundance of attacking flair, with a good balance of youth and experience. The Cottagers will be full of confidence after beating Huddersfield Town, Newcastle United and Sheffield Wednesday, all away from home, in the last couple of months, and demolishing Reading earlier in the season.
Reading finished three places and five points better off than the Cottagers and therefore appear good value for punters to win the first leg at 22/5 with BetVictor. Jaap Stam’s side may have suffered a couple of nightmare performances this term, including a recent 7-1 humbling at Norwich City, but they have shown a lot of fighting qualities and possess one of the players of the season in veteran striker Yann Kermorgant.
The first legs of play-off ties are traditionally cautious affairs, but Fulham and Reading are both happier going forward than trying to defend and a smart wager could therefore be to take advantage of the longer odds on the match result and both teams to score. The Cottagers will be hard to stop on their home turf and can be backed at 12/5 with Bet365 to win the game but still concede.
- Sports.net’s Top Tip: Fulham to win and both teams to score - 12/5 at Bet365
*Please note, odds may fluctuate.