Although football is perhaps the ultimate team game, if there is one position on the field that attracts more fame and glory than the rest, it is that of striker. Being able to consistently score goals is perhaps the most sought-after quality in football, and the focus on goals and goalscoring has inevitably encouraged bookmakers to invent goalscoring betting options, of which the most popular is the first goalscorer market.
Who Scored First?
The first goalscorer market is simple to understand, but has a number of important rules to bear in mind, which we will cover below. The basic principle with this market is that you are betting on the first player to score during a game. Bookmakers will offer prices for all of the players who are in with a chance of starting the game, and some of the players will be available at big odds, which is one of the main attractions of this market.
How Does It Work?
As mentioned above, while the basic principle of this market is easy to follow, there are some additional rules to bear in mind that cover some of the typical complications associated with first goalscorer markets.
For instance, you might have backed a player to score first, but what if the player doesn’t start the game? What if they’re a substitute? What if the game finishes without a goalscorer? And what if the first goal is an own goal?
To answer the first questions, there’s some good news for punters who back a player only to find they start on the substitute’s bench.
Bets on players who don’t play at all, or who come on after the first goal has been scored, will be considered void and stakes will be refunded, though it’s important to note that bets on players who come on before the first goal will stand.
The possibility of there being no goals in a game is usually offered as a betting option in the first goalscorer market, so if you bet on a player but the game finishes goalless, your bet will be a loser.
And, for the purposes of first goalscorer betting, own goals do not count, so if the player you bet on scores the second goal of the game and the first was an own goal, congratulations, your bet is a winner!
As you would expect, bookmakers have come up with all kinds of ingenious variations on the First Goalscorer market to cater to goal-focused football punters. For instance, you can bet on the First Team Goalscorer, or combine two players to score the first goal in the Double Chance market.
There are also markets on combinations of First Goalscorer and Match Result, First Goalscorer and Correct Score and First or Second Goalscorer.
One of the post popular variations of this market is the Each Way option that you will find with most bookmakers. This allows you to bet a player Each Way to be the First Goalscorer.
Each way football betting is a concept familiar to horse racing punters but does each way mean in First Goalscorer betting? When you back a player to score the first goal each way, you are effectively having two bets.
The first bet, at the stated odds in the First Goalscorer market is on the player to score the first goal. The second bet is at a fraction of those odds – usually a fifth – and will pay out if the player scores at any time during the game.
For example, let’s say you back Harry Kane each way in the First Goalscorer market for £10 at odds of 5/1. If he scores the first goal, you will be paid out on both parts of your each way bet, which would be £10 x 5 = £50 because he scored first and £10 x (5/5) = £10 because he scored during the game.
If Kane doesn’t score the first goal, but does score during the game, the first bet would be a loser, but your second bet would be a winner. Each way betting in the First Goalscorer market can be a good way to ensure you don’t lose out in the frustrating event that your player scores the second or third goal of the match.
First Goalscorer Betting Strategy
While most of the players in a typical first goalscorer market will be priced at temptingly large odds, it is important to remember that bookmakers take few chances with this market. They won’t devote the same time and energy to it that they do with the traditional Match Winner market, but they will compensate for this by ensuring that they take no risks with the prices of the obvious contenders in any game. Punters hoping to regularly find value by backing Cristiano Ronaldo or Harry Kane in this market are likely to be disappointed!
But that doesn’t mean that bookmakers don’t make mistakes. They can sometimes get their prices wrong on the main contenders, but most of the value in this market can be found among the higher-priced players, whose odds tend to be automatically calculated based on standard figures for players in that position, with perhaps a tweak here and there.
To spot opportunities in this market, the key thing to bear in mind is position, position, position. Most goals are scored by forwards, followed by midfielders, and then defenders, with central defenders more likely to get on the scoresheet than full-backs as they often go up for corners. Being able to spot a potential change of role for a player can be crucial.
This can include scenarios in which teams experiment by playing a centre half as a centre forward, or give penalty taking duties to a new player, or perhaps play a different system in which a winger plays centrally while a striker switches to the flank.
Any tactical change that results in a player being closer to the opponent’s goal will increase their chances of scoring, so knowing your teams, their formations and tactics inside out can give you an edge.
Another thing to bear in mind with First Goalscorer betting is the crucial importance of home advantage. It is easy to overlook when you’re focusing on individual players rather than teams, but it is a fact that the home side in a football match will score more goals on average than their visitors, making them more likely to score the first goal. This home advantage is critical and has to be factored into your analysis.
Finally, you should not overlook the way that a team is approaching a game. If either team is likely to adopt a more or less attacking approach than usual, perhaps because they would be happy with a draw or they need to boost their goal difference to overcome a first-leg deficit, this is likely to have a knock-on effect on the chances of their players scoring the first goal.
Goals decide football matches and goalscoring is a natural area of the game for punters to focus on. While there will always be a random element to the distribution of goals in a football match, the shrewd punter who is prepared to do their homework, weigh up the strengths and weaknesses of the players involved and stay up to date with tactical changes can find ways to profit from the First Goalscorer market.