Football Tips: Our 3 best bets for Reading v Bournemouth in Friday night’s TV tussle

Our tipster Colin Harvey offers up three best bets for Reading v Bournemouth on Friday night.

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widget, while in-copy odds are accurate at time of publication but subject to change

Friday’s televised Championship game throws up tricky puzzle to solve, with 5th-placed Reading hosting 6th-placed Bournemouth at the Madejski Stadium. Bournemouth are in a bit of a slump after falling from 2nd while Reading are staging a pretty decent recovery following some poor form in December and November.

The Royals are now undefeated in their last five, winning three and drawing two while Bournemouth, who are the market favourites here, have won just one of their last five with three losses and a defeat. Given that run you we simply can’t tip them to win with any confidence.

Friday 8pm: Reading v Bournemouth
Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Football

At home, it’s feast or famine for Reading with eight wins and four losses but on the road Bournemouth have largely settled for a point with six draws, four wins and three defeats. That’s the 5th-best home record against the 8th best away record.

This is two evenly-matched sides facing off, but with contrasting fortunes over the last few games I’m leaning towards the hosts – just. So, without further ado, here’s your three best bets for Friday night.

Safe Bet: Under 2.5 Goals

If you had asked me a few weeks ago for my safest bet in this game it would undoubtedly have been a Bournemouth Win. However, things have shifted significantly since the turn of the year. As mentioned, both sides’ fortunes have flipped, meaning there’s just two points between the clubs, one league position and Reading are back above Bournemouth.

In terms of the Safest Bet on Friday night, we’re looking at Bournemouth’s recent results as well as Reading’s form against the better teams in the division. The Cherries like to keep things tight and are, more often than not, involved in low-scoring games.

In their last 10 games Under 2.5 Goals has come off seven times, as well as in four of their five most recent league away games. Reading are a little more care free but they have been trending downwards in terms of goals-per-game in recent weeks. Reading have been averaging 1.8 goals per game over their last five but Bournemouth have averaged just 1.6 per game, leading to a combined average of 1.7 goals per game between the two.

Bournemouth keep it really tight on the road and as they struggle to regain some form you can be sure they’ll be setting out for their 7th away draw of the season. The onus will be on Reading to break them down and it’s all pointing to a narrow result that could go any one of the three ways but Under 2.5 Goals is the safest play here.

Value Bet: Reading to win by exactly 1 goal

Both of these sides are generally involved in tight games, with eight of Bournemouth’s last 10 ending in a draw or a one-goal result either way. The same is true for Reading in the last seven of the same period.

We’re expecting Reading to dominate here, given that they’re at home and the respective form of both teams. If someone’s going to win you’d have to say it’s the hosts with all things considered. The Cherries’ eye for goal has deserted them recently, but their defence has, by and large, stood firm and they simply don’t get battered.

All five of their most-recent defeats have come by a single goal and if Reading do win on Friday night you have to expect it to be close. If Reading win the stats tell us it will be by exactly 1 goal, as it has been in three of their last five wins.

Long Shot: Lucas Joao to Score First and Reading to Win 1-0

This is a great price for what is, on paper anyway, the most likely outcome in this game. Lucas Joao has been sensational this season and has 17 goals in 20 appearances in all competitions.

He fluffed his lines last time out, though, missing a late penalty against Preston that would have seen this selection come off in that game had it gone in. He’s their talisman and I fully expect him to be given another chance from the spot should Reading get one on Friday night.

He’s also pretty handy in the 18-yard box as well as from free kicks and he has got 11 more goals than anyone in the Royals’ ranks. With everything taken into consideration in this piece, Lucas Joao to Score First and Reading to Win 1-0 at around 24/1 is a great long shot if you’re watching the game and fancy a little flutter.

Our 3 best bets for Reading v Bournemouth

Safe Bet: Under 2.5 Goals
Value Bet: Reading to win by exactly 1 goal
Long Shot: Lucas Joao to Score First and Reading to Win 1-0

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widget, while in-copy odds are accurate at time of publication but subject to change

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