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8/5/2009 No.26
rendspotting Football/Rugby
Kevin Pullein
Friday 8 May 2009
  A sharp rise in betting activity is expected on next Monday's Tyne-Tees derby, when much more than local pride is at stake

Alan Shearer has described Monday night's Tyne-Tees derby as the biggest match of his career but judging by the odds it could also be one of his last as Newcastle manager. Shearer's failure to revive the Magpies since taking over last month has persuaded William Hill to quote just 6-5 that the former captain is not at the helm by the start of next season – which is looking increasingly likely to be in the Championship.

Coral offers a standout 8-15 that Newcastle will be playing in the second tier of English football from August while is biggest at 7-4 that they will avoid relegation. The market makers are even more pessimistic when it comes to Middlesbrough. Gareth Southgate's team are 1-4 ( for the drop and 7-2 (Bet365 and Victor Chandler) to stay up.

Bookmakers are expecting a rise in turnover of at least 25% on the game at St James' Park despite Monday night games traditionally being the least attractive to punters. The match odds reveal Newcastle as the 11-10 (general) favourites, with Middlesbrough 14-5 (general) and the draw 13-5 (Boylesports).

The two teams are separated only by goal difference but Newcastle, having failed to win in 10 league games, are on a worse run than Boro, who can at least boast two victories in the same period. Sky Bet, incidentally, offers 11-4 Shearer fails to manage a success this term. The early money has come for Newcastle in all betting channels. On the exchanges, their odds have contracted from 2.2 (nearly 5-4) with Betfair to 2.08 (just less than 11-10), while, which operates fixed odds and spread betting, has seen an £8,000 bet at 11-10 on a home win plus a buy of Newcastle's supremacy at 0.45 for £5,000 a goal.

There is no doubt Newcastle are the more likely winners. At home in the league they have lost only to Big Four clubs since September although their propensity to draw games at St James' Park must be a worry for anyone backing Shearer's side. A better option might be to back Newcastle to keep a clean sheet, on offer at 6-4 with Paddy Power.

It is advice that is based more on Middlesbrough's lack of a cutting edge up front than Newcastle's strength in defence. Boro have looked woefully short of confidence in recent games, failing to score in their last three, while away from home they have found the net in only one of their last nine league fixtures. The pair drew 0–0 at the Riverside earlier this season and a repeat of that can be backed at a freely available 9-1 (remember to back "No goalscorer" if you fancy a goalless draw as own-goals do not count in goalscorer markets but do in correct-score betting). Three of the last eight meetings of these sides have failed to produce a goal.

Both teams have 31 points, three fewer than 17th-placed Hull, who face Stoke at home this weekend and are trading at 7-4 (Victor Chandler) to be relegated and 8-15 (Coral and Paddy Power) to remain a top-flight team. Tony Pulis' side, with 39 points, are 150-1 ( and Hill's) to go down.

Phil Brown's team have been poor recently, losing their last four, and while they might only need another win to stay up it probably will not come this weekend. Stoke were unlucky to lose to West Ham last time out and 13-5 (general) looks too big not to claim all three points at the KC Stadium. Ryan Shawcross is worth a speculative, each-way interest at 25-1 (general) to score the first goal – a newish bet offering one-third of the odds if he scores any of the first five goals. The former Manchester United junior has netted three times in his last nine games (after seven times in 39 league starts last year).

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