Sports Trading Secrets Under 2.5 Goals Pt.1

Part One: The Selection Process

Part of the Betfair Exchange Trading Profit Series

In this series of four articles I am going to reveal the secrets of my under 2.5 goal success. At the moment I am trading at around a 90-95% strike rate in this market, if you have a look at #BTTLive on Twitter you will see that all of my last 10 trades won, even the one that didn't!

If you’re new to goal spread betting and are wondering why there’s a half goal, it’s just so you can have 2 outcomes rather than 3 under or over instead of less than 3 goals, exactly 3 goals, more than 3 goals.

By the time you have read all four articles you will have the tools to go off and start making money in this market. So let's begin by looking at the best type of teams to choose when considering trading in this market.

Late Conceding Away Team

Some teams set out their stall from the off and some get super defensive away from home after a couple of away day thrashings, whatever the reason, these teams tend to set up to not lose, hence they’ll get a lot of low scoring draws on their travels. 

Now obviously you don’t want a team who is winning every away game 0-4 unless you want to go for over 2.5, but if like me you’re an unders man, then the combination of tight defence and a couldn’t-hit-a-cow’s-arse-with-a-banjo strike force is a team that will end up making you a lot of money.

One thing to remember is that the Late Conceding Away Team is not to be confused with the Defensive Away Team, just because they concede late doesn't mean that their games won't end up over 2.5 goals, it just means that we can profit from them before any goals go in.

Let’s take a look at this in practice, looking at the 2014-2015 English Championship season, let’s start with Sheffield Wednesday.

Wednesday scored over 2.5 goals in 43% of their away games, the average being 50%, now this in itself is not particularly impressive. However for much of the season they were below 40% towards the end they ended up scoring and conceding more away goals. But they kept one interesting trait and that was, their defensive attitude meant they conceded very few goals before 35 minutes, which if you are employing the liability reduction technique, then this is music to your ears and money in your bank.

If we look below at Millwall v Sheff Wed we can see that Wednesday won 1-3, which we may have expected as Millwall were above average for over 2.5, especially at that point. However we can see that because of Wednesday’s perpensity for not conceding many in the first half of games, means that we could have traded that game and been zeroed on our liability before half time.

Then we could have either greened up both ways in the first five minutes of the 2nd half, or we could have waited till around 65-70 minutes to get a decent green if we had missed it before the 52nd minute first goal.

Betfair Trading Advice:

Use teams like these sparingly as the phenomena can come and go, they are best used against teams that are higher than them in the league as their trait of late scoring will be magnified against quality opponents.

The Recently Thrashed Team

Trading the recently thrashed team should be part of your general strategy for playing the under 2.5 goal market. It is a phenomena I first became consciously aware of in the 2002 World Cup, when Germany thrashed Saudi Arabia 8-0 in their first game.

Back then I used instinct to predict that Saudi’s next game would only see them lose their next game by no more than a goal to nil, I reasoned that the last thing they wanted to do was to be humiliated in every match they played, maybe even setting the worst record ever for goals conceded in a World Cup.

Saudi Arabia did indeed lose their next game 1-0 and subsequently won me some money for my correct score prediction. So I started to investigate whether this was always the case, that a team that had just been thrashed and by thrashed I mean a 5-0 minimum, would always concede under 2 goals in their next game.

Needless to say I found this to be the case; look at Birmingham’s game against Bournemouth above. As you can see they were thumped 0-8 at home by the eventual champions. Look at their next game they were up against Millwall who were flying high , unbeaten in 4 games winning 2 back to back, they had scored 8 goals and conceded 6.

Those are the kind of recent home stats that are to be avoided if you’re looking to trade under 2.5 goals. However they were of course about to play a team that had just shipped 8 goals, so their priority and in fact any team’s priority after being thrashed is DON’T CONCEDE A GOAL!

You will have noticed that I underlined Reading's thrashing by Birmingham on the 13th of December. Well look below at the result of their game after.

Watford by the way were flying at this point, they scored 7 goals in their previous 2 and 4 in their subsequent 2 games. Yet they could only beat a recently thrashed Reading 0-1

Betfair Trading Advice: 

Always trade under 2.5 goals on a team that has just been thrashed, doubly so if their next game is away. There are big profits to be made because the market will be reacting to their last game instead of their current one.

However bear in mind that it is not an exact science and there have been instances of teams getting thumped twice in a row. If a goal is scored in the first 5 minutes of their next game and you are not watching the game, trade out immediately for a loss.

Defensive Home Team

The advantage of trading defensive home teams is obvious, they tend not to concede, the disadvantage is they could be good scorers. However by and large they are good teams to trade on.

Let’s look at a good defensive home team in Chelsea, The Blues won the 2014/15 English Premier League title at a canter, losing only 2 games and only failing to score twice, so you would think that they weren't that great for under 2.5.

This would have been true for Chelsea away as they scored 8% over the average for over 2.5 goals away, however at home their games only resulted in over 2.5 goals 32% of the time. In other words, there were 13 games out of 19 that you could have won money on under 2.5 goals. To put that in perspective, that was the joint lowest last season, the other team was Burnley who finished 2nd from bottom.

Betfair Trading Advice:

Trading on teams like Chelsea who are good defensively at home but also good scorers is difficult if you are using a reduced liability strategy as they can score at any time and waiting for the odds to fall in a game which has seen 2 goals in the first 20 minutes, will cause you a lot of stress.

Use teams like this when they are playing other teams very close to them in skill, so in Chelsea’s case it would have been about backing them when they were playing a top 6 side at home. Or a relegation threatened side near the end of the season.

This type of team suits the leave it method and can be very lucrative as the market rarely reacts to their low scoring tendencies.

Defensive Away Team

I like defensive away teams because they don’t mind drawing and they don’t have the same pressure on them to score from the crowd like they would at home. In fact a good combination can be a defensive away team that is also struggling at home, but we’ll talk about that later when we look at killer combos.

If we look here at the 2 charts in the English football League One for goals conceded and under 2.5 goals away from home, we can see that backing a defensive home team isn’t an exact science and more than ever we can’t rely on this stat alone. All we can say is that a defensive away team is a potentially good early indicator that any one of their given games may end up under 2.5 goals.

When you are using the goals scored/conceded chart looking for a defensive away team you must consider the left as well as the right. We can see Walsall as the stand out team here as they achieved 9 clean sheets in the season, but also failed to score on 9 occasions. Of course there will be times when we are focussing more on what they concede than score, for instance if Bristol City were playing a particularly defence home side like Rochdale or Preston.

Betfair Trading Tips:

Don’t use a teams away defence as your only marker for entering an under 2.5 goals trade on them. Rather use it as a good early indicator which should make up a number of criteria for making the trade.

If they are defensive but high scorers this makes them riskier, but it also means that the odds on their matches with defensive home teams could be higher than they should, thus delivering bags of value and an opportunity for an early cash out.


OK that's a break down of criteria I use when choosing teams to trade in the under 2.5 goals market in English football. Of course these criteria can be used in any country, but I personally feel that it's the best market for me because it's the one I know.

In the next article in the series I'll be looking at more types of teams that can make us a lot of money when trading in the under 2.5 goals market.

Until then, good luck and happy trading.

The Zen Trader

Open a Betfair account and claim your £20 bonus

All statistical graphics supplied by