Monday, 5 November 2012

Nil-Two? Lay, Lay, Lay!

During a recent trading session, Gundulf from Betfair Football Trading - the highs and the lows spotted an in-play opportunity. It was a short way into the second-half, and Bochum were two goals down at home to Energie Cottbus. He declared that he was laying Cottbus – and I think to most of us in the chat room, this seemed like a decent enough bet. It was low liability and with the natural home side advantage, it “felt” like it should pay-off.

I didn’t follow Dave on this bet, but it worked beautifully for him. Bochum got one back, so Dave removed his liability but kept the trade going. Bochum duly equalised and the match finished 2-2. Great stuff. Well done to him. A classic example of how trading in-play can work.

I thought to myself at the time that laying an away side under these circumstances should be a decent trade almost every time – but you know me: I like to check these things, so I looked back at my old data to find out how the trade would perform over the long-term.

I don’t only keep the data from football-data, but I also hold actual score time data too. Ironypirate from Scatter Gun Trading recently asked me what data sources I use, but I don’t have any amazing sources I’m afraid. I did once write a screenscraper to pull score data down, but I don’t think I did it very well as I soon got blocked by the website in question. Nowadays I manually download the raw score data from and have built myself a cool spready to automatically interpret it in its raw form and convert it for immediate analysis. I’m sure there are many people who do it in a much simpler way, but each league only takes me about 30 seconds a week to keep up-to-date, so it’s not too arduous a task.

So, using this score data, I ran some imaginary trades based on the following criteria:

  • Home team two goals down in the first n minutes. I made n a variable so that I could determine the optimum time that a lay should be placed. For example, it wouldn’t make a great deal of sense to lay an away team that had just gone two goals up with one minute remaining (although some of you may disagree). 
  • If the home team only manage to pull one goal back after 75 minutes, then I’ve deemed that a losing trade. If, of course they have gone on equalise then I have marked that down as a full-win trade. 
  • On pulling a goal back, this is treated as a 50% win of the lay stake (again you may disagree here. It obviously depends on how quickly they score). 

One thing that I have noticed whilst running these imaginary trades is that letting a bet run after the home team have got one goal back is, generally speaking, not the way the trade should be managed. This is in spite of Dave doing precisely that over the weekend and him reaping the rewards. Based on my figures, if a trader always lets the trade run, then they would end the season in the red.

The good news, however, is that all our instincts are correct. Laying the away team when they are two goals up does seem to be a profitable trade. Cottbus scored their 2nd goal in the 52nd minute over the weekend, but based on my analysis that game should then have been ignored as a trade possibility. The best time to lay the away team is if they are two up before half-time. After that, the ROI is negatively affected.

I ran my tests across several Premier League and several Championship seasons and each one proved a winning season using this strategy. Not one losing season. The ROIs went anywhere from 4% up to 30%. As you can imagine, there are not a huge number of bets for each league – maybe 20 to 30 on average – but if you multiply this number across all the top leagues in Europe, then you certainly have 100 to 150 bets a year that you can deal with. Add-in some additional filters such as ignoring a rampant Bayern Munich away to an out-of-form team at the bottom of the league like Augsburg, then the profit levels could be increased even further. Individual judgments could also be made to let bets run on a few selected matches – perhaps where the home team is particularly strong. Anyway, you get the idea.

The point is that, even if you apply no filters and blind lay each away team that goes two goals up in the first-half, then over the course of a season, you will almost certainly be in profit. Just remember to green-up after the first home goal (okay Dave?).


Well I don’t remember the last time I regaled you all with how I’m doing personally. I seem to have got out of the habit of supplying a P/L but it’s not my intention for that to be so. The month of October was pretty crap for me. I had a decent start and a decent end, but the middle was something of a dog’s breakfast. Only just scraped into profit:

Soccer: £237.08 | Tote: | Total P&L: £237.08  

Soccer Showing 1 - 20 of 142 markets 

Market Start time Settled date Profit/loss (£) 

Soccer / Norwich v Tottenham : Match Odds 31-Oct-12 19:45  31-Oct-12 21:39  0.00 
Soccer / Chelsea v Man Utd : Correct Score 31-Oct-12 19:45  31-Oct-12 21:39  43.75 
Soccer / Inter v Sampdoria : Match Odds 31-Oct-12 19:45  31-Oct-12 21:38  33.28 
Soccer / Fortuna Dusseldorf v Mgladbach : Match Odds 31-Oct-12 19:30  31-Oct-12 21:20  -60.00 
Soccer / Chelsea v Man Utd : Over/Under 3.5 Goals 31-Oct-12 19:45  31-Oct-12 20:54  13.12 
Soccer / Huesca v Barcelona B : Match Odds 31-Oct-12 19:00  31-Oct-12 20:49  17.14 
Soccer / Chelsea v Man Utd : Over/Under 2.5 Goals 31-Oct-12 19:45  31-Oct-12 20:28  -10.00 
Soccer / Huesca v Barcelona B : Over/Under 2.5 Goals 31-Oct-12 19:00  31-Oct-12 20:27  5.61 
Soccer / Rio Ave v Freamunde : Match Odds 31-Oct-12 18:00  31-Oct-12 19:52  -26.63 
Soccer / Kickers Offenbach v Union Berlin : Match Odds 31-Oct-12 18:00  31-Oct-12 19:49  30.00 
Soccer / Montpellier v Bordeaux : Match Odds 31-Oct-12 17:45  31-Oct-12 19:41  23.77 
Soccer / Wigan v Bradford : Over/Under 2.5 Goals 30-Oct-12 19:45  30-Oct-12 21:36  -50.00 
Soccer / Wigan v Bradford : Correct Score 30-Oct-12 19:45  30-Oct-12 21:36  -7.00 
Soccer / Cambuur v Telstar : Correct Score 30-Oct-12 19:00  30-Oct-12 20:52  -4.00 
Soccer / Cambuur v Telstar : Over/Under 2.5 Goals 30-Oct-12 19:00  30-Oct-12 20:52  10.46 
Soccer / Sheff Utd v Portsmouth : Over/Under 1.5 Goals 29-Oct-12 19:45  29-Oct-12 21:38  11.44 
Soccer / Sheff Utd v Portsmouth : Over/Under 2.5 Goals 29-Oct-12 19:45  29-Oct-12 21:38  2.46 
Soccer / Sheff Utd v Portsmouth : Correct Score 29-Oct-12 19:45  29-Oct-12 21:38  28.73 
Soccer / Chelsea v Man Utd : Correct Score 28-Oct-12 16:00  28-Oct-12 17:53  0.00 
Soccer / Southampton v Tottenham : Match Odds 28-Oct-12 15:00  28-Oct-12 16:52  -1.01 

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 of 8 Pages  

This month is going okay so far, I suppose, but it’s no great shakes. We’ll see how it all pans-out. Last couple of days trading below:

Soccer: £341.61 | Tote: | Total P&L: £341.61  

Soccer Showing 1 - 18 of 27 markets 

Market Start time Settled date Profit/loss (£) 

Soccer / Liverpool v Newcastle : Over/Under 2.5 Goals 04-Nov-12 16:00  04-Nov-12 17:54  30.50 
Soccer / Liverpool v Newcastle : Correct Score 04-Nov-12 16:00  04-Nov-12 17:54  46.46 
Soccer / Liverpool v Newcastle : Over/Under 1.5 Goals 04-Nov-12 16:00  04-Nov-12 17:26  -10.11 
Soccer / QPR v Reading : Over/Under 2.5 Goals 04-Nov-12 13:30  04-Nov-12 15:23  32.14 
Soccer / QPR v Reading : Correct Score 04-Nov-12 13:30  04-Nov-12 15:23  27.52 
Soccer / AZ Alkmaar v VVV : Match Odds 04-Nov-12 13:30  04-Nov-12 15:22  1.90 
Soccer / West Ham v Man City : Correct Score 03-Nov-12 17:30  03-Nov-12 19:25  36.88 
Soccer / West Ham v Man City : Over/Under 1.5 Goals 03-Nov-12 17:30  03-Nov-12 19:25  15.34 
Soccer / West Ham v Man City : Over/Under 2.5 Goals 03-Nov-12 17:30  03-Nov-12 19:25  12.29 
Soccer / Dortmund v Stuttgart : Match Odds 03-Nov-12 14:30  03-Nov-12 16:27  -50.00 
Soccer / Nurnberg v Wolfsburg : Match Odds 03-Nov-12 14:30  03-Nov-12 16:25  29.32 
Soccer / Hoffenheim v Schalke : Match Odds 03-Nov-12 14:30  03-Nov-12 16:20  14.90 
Soccer / Man Utd v Arsenal : Correct Score 03-Nov-12 12:45  03-Nov-12 14:44  19.35 
Soccer / Man Utd v Arsenal : Over/Under 2.5 Goals 03-Nov-12 12:45  03-Nov-12 14:38  68.51 
Soccer / Brighton v Leeds : Over/Under 4.5 Goals 02-Nov-12 19:45  02-Nov-12 21:42  1.19 
Soccer / Brighton v Leeds : Correct Score 02-Nov-12 19:45  02-Nov-12 21:42  4.59 
Soccer / Eintracht Frankfurt v G Furth : Over/Under 2.5 Goals 02-Nov-12 19:30  02-Nov-12 21:22  -1.05 
Soccer / Eintracht Frankfurt v G Furth : Correct Score 02-Nov-12 19:30  02-Nov-12 21:20  14.04 


  1. It's always nice to see someone digging around in the background with trades like that one, Eddie. It makes interesting reading and your findings don't particularly surprise me.

    For the record, both in that trade and most other similar trades that I enter, the price was below 1.1 - in fact I got 1.06 so I'm a bit baffled by your findings - had it been 0-2 at half time I would imagine the price would have been in the 1.15 - 1.25 region. If the first goal from Bochum had been later in coming I would have thought a scratch would have been possible up to about 85 minutes.

    My only question is why, why, why did I not do the same thing when the Bhoys were 0-2 up with a couple of minutes to play? Must have been 1.02 at most to lay.

  2. Hi Dave

    I'm perfectly willing to accept that I have some inaccuracies here, as I was looking at the score times and not the given odds - which is obviously crucial. I may tweak my findings based on getting at for scratch at 85 minutes if the home side manage to get one goal back.

    This, of course, would only lend additional support to the premise that it's a decent trade in the first place.


    1. As you say, the odds are crucial wrt whether this is a potential blanket trade, personally I think if they are south of 1.1 it's a bit of a no brainer to use a horrible expression. Anything under 1.3 is worthy of consideration, over that it becomes a bit too much of a punt for my liking!

  3. Hi SoccerDude
    I just wanted to ask where do you get this weekly results data you manually download from soccerway? Can't find any download link anywhere on the site...

  4. Hi Harry

    There is no download link! That's what I mean by doing it manually. I expand each game out to show the score times and copy-and-paste it. My spreadsheet then automatically interprets that data. Thirty-seconds work for me.

  5. Hi again.
    A beautiful example of this trade again tonight. Celta de Vigo was winning 0-2 against Rayo. I remembered this post and inmediately thought of laying Celta at 1.25. I took a quick look at the stats and saw Rayo had the posession and the intention too (with more on goal shots and better stats overall). Still I didn't do it, I lacked the confidence and this type of trade does not match my current strategies, so I let it go. Of course Rayo won 3-2! Ah, damned hindsight! :)

  6. Hi Harry

    Laying a team under these conditions goes against our natural instincts to some extent, but it has to be worth doing so over the long term.

    I say "over the long term" because I layed Osasuna tonight when they were 0-2 up. They went on to finish 0-3. I don't, however, regret my lay. It was very cheap and if I keep doing that over and over, I will be in profit eventually.

    My advice is grit your teeth and dip your toe in. You could start off with a couple of quid exposure to see how you get on.

    Good luck


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