Taking Wee Fiver to softplay has its advantages and disadvantages.
First, the advantages: it's a chance to have a cup of coffee in peace, to catch up with world events, to not answer questions about why there are clouds in the sky, why five follows four in the number sequence or explain for the millionth time why the dinosaurs are extinct, and what exactly 'extinct' means without resorting to the words 'death' 'ceasing to exist' or 'dinosaur heaven'.
The disadvantages spawn mostly from a creature who shall be referred to as 'video game child'. Video game child is a force of nature. He or she, but mostly, he, runs amok at softplay where the mean streets of Mario World become reality. Fellow children (and I may or may not be referring specifically to Wee Fiver here) are The Joker's goons, they exist purely to be smacked or tossed into foam supports.
Video game child cannot be stared out, nor told to stop not least because his first reaction is to run to iPhone dad to inform him about the strange man who keeps looking at him and talking to him. It's not just video game child, though, there's greetin' child, grumpy child, dozy child, sneezy child, sleepy child and the rest of the seven dwarves too.
In short, it's a bit unpredictable. But not quite as unpredictable as gambling on the Sky Bet Championship which, granted, has nothing to do with softplay but can leave one feeling every bit as unhinged by the end of 90 minutes of frantic action. Take Wigan versus Yeovil the other night when a seemingly innocuous match seemed to heading the way of Uwe Rosler's men when five goals in eight closing minutes meant a home banker became a high-scoring draw.
The upside of such uncertainty is that prices are high when other leagues have settled into a more predictable pattern as the season enters its final phase. The flipside is that finding winning bets is much more problematic.
That said, there is sufficient reason to believe that Leicester, Reading and Burnley, three of the four best away teams in England's second flight can prevail against teams that fall between indifferent and downright awful home form. The dodgiest fixture from a betting perspective is the one at Ewood Park where Blackburn host leaders Leicester. Yet, while Rovers have average home form they have lost three of their last six there, while Leicester, the best team in the division, have won five from six and kept three clean sheets in the process.
Reading take on the league's worst home team in the shape of Birmingham, while Charlton, Burnley's opponents, have had similar struggles at The Valley, although the appointment of Jose Riga might have clouded the picture somewhat - given the 1-0 win secured by the Belgian in his first game in charge in midweek. Nevertheless, this is a high-paying treble on three of the league's standout teams and for that reason alone is worthy of serious consideration. It pays a best priced 10.76/1.
A mixed bag last week even if Aberdeen did eventually win the League Cup. It was no good for our purposes yet the treble had already been undone by nine-man Chelsea who, unlike Manchester City at Hull, were unable to overcome the handicap of playing without the full complement at Aston Villa. The total is -£59.53.