Hatters favourites to reach Wembley

Blue Square Bet Premier play-off betting preview with Alan Alger.

A FANTASTIC performance from Luton Town in the first leg on Thursday sees them take a 2-0 lead to north Wales this afternoon.

While they could feel that chances towards the end of the game should have ensured a wider margin they will surely be delighted with the position they are now in.

It was a lacklustre Wrexham performance at Kenilworth Road but no neutral would take anything away from the Hatters all-round play and the way they scored their goals.

Paul Buckle’s short reign at the club now features good wins over Kidderminster Harriers and both of the top two in the table, furthermore not conceding a goal in any of those three games. #

The clean sheet on Thursday night was the sixth in a row for Mark Tyler who now hasn’t picked the ball out of his net for nearly 10 hours of football, including a world-class save at Gateshead in their penultimate regular season game.

Anyone who had their jury out on the turnaround achieved by the former Torquay boss, must surely have reached a positive verdict by now.

Wrexham are the favourites to win the game though at 5/4, a Luton win is offered at 15/8 and a draw, which would also suit the visitors, is priced at 9/4.

A two-goal lead from the first leg has been carried forward three times from the nine previous years of the play-offs in this division.

Only once has it been overturned, but that was on the only occasion that the side that were behind played at home second so there is a glimmer of hope for Wrexham as they are 7/2 to turn the tie around and make the Wembley final.

Stuart Fleetwood and Andre Gray both featured in the Luton starting line-up in the first leg and both came away with a goal apiece.

With his side already 2-0 up and now away from home, Luton boss Buckle may not be so attacking again, although both players are towards the top of the first goalscorer market.

Fleetwood is 13/2 to score first and Gray is 7/1 – any player not on the field when the first goal is scored is obviously refunded.

At some point in this game the home side will have to push forward for goals so we could see some gaps left for Luton to exploit – a last goalscorer bet on either Gray or Fleetwood (at the same price) could be the call as they counter attack.

Buckle’s successful season in the play-offs with Torquay saw them win 2-0 at home to Histon in their first leg and then go to Cambridgeshire and lose 1-0.

That was enough to make the Wembley final as they soaked up pressure and a 1-0 home win for Wrexham is 6/1 in what would be a repeat.

I’d oppose that bet on the basis of the different nature of these two sides and I predict a high scoring affair.

Four or more goals is offered at 23/10 and that looks like a good investment. Again a red card would still represent value at 9/4 based on the live stats and tempers could reach fever pitch with so much at stake.