First Goalscorer Bets

There are an ever increasing number of football betting markets available these days as bookies try to outdo each other and invent new ways they can attract customers. Bets such as “match result and both teams to score” and “wincast” bets have become very popular, especially for those newer to the world of betting on football.

However, first goalscorer (FGS) is one of the older markets; but as with many of the original bets offered by bookies, such as “match result” and “over 2.5 goals”, it remains hugely popular. Here we take a look at what the first goalscorer market is, how it works, and the terms and conditions you should look out for. We will also offer up some strategy and tips too to help you maximise your chances of picking out some winning bets. Whilst our focus for this article is FGS, we’ll also let you know a little about anytime and last goalscorer bets too, as these are very similar.

What is the FGS Market?

First goalscorer betting is (and there are no prizes for guessing this) betting on who will score the first goal in a game of football. Similar bets exist in other sports, including American football and rugby (with touchdowns and tries respectively) but when we’re talking about football, or soccer, it’s all about scoring the first legitimate goal.

There actually isn’t too much more to explain in this section and at first glance FGS betting is very simple. Just decide which player you think will score the first goal in a game and get your bet on. It’s a hugely popular market, primarily because the odds are usually quite substantial.

Favourites will often be priced at around 6/1 or sometimes even higher, although great goalscorers such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are often much shorter. This means that punters know they can get an attractive return from a relatively small stake, whilst the bet also remains live for as long as the game remains 0-0 (or sometimes even longer, of which more below), giving FGS bettors plenty of value for their bet in terms of excitement (unless of course there is a very early goal).

What if…? Things to Look Out For

Okay, having said that first scorer betting is very simple and self-explanatory, it’s worth noting that there are several factors to be aware of when placing FGS wagers.

90 Minutes Only

Perhaps the first thing to note is that, as with many bets, unless otherwise stated, they apply only to 90 minutes plus injury time. If the game is 0-0 at the final whistle but your selection scores in the first minute of extra time your bet will, sadly, settle as a loser. In this instance the winning first goalscorer selection would be “no goalscorer”.

Own Goals

Interestingly a game can end 4-4 and still settle as a winner for no goalscorer. If you’re new to first scorer betting you’re probably exceedingly puzzled right now but this relates to what we said above about an FGS bet prolonging interest even after the deadlock in a game has been broken.

This seemingly nonsensical eventuality arises because own goals are disregarded for the sake of the first goalscorer market. If your player scores an own goal this will not mean your bet has won and the goal is simply ignored when it comes to settling this particular wager. Unlikely as it may be, therefore, a game that sees eight own goals and ends 4-4 will be a winner, the strangest of winners, for anyone who backed no goalscorer.

With own goals discounted, the first “proper” goal, even coming after one or more OGs, is classed as the winner for first scorer betting.

Void Bets: What Happens When a Player Doesn't Start?

Another area of confusion concerns players who don’t play either all or some of the game. Let us start with the most simple incident, that of a player who doesn’t play at all. If you back a player in the FGS market and, for whatever reason, they don’t play in the game at all, your bet is simply voided, meaning you get all of your stake back. The only possible exception to that would be in some form of special ante-post FGS market, in which case your bet would be a loser but almost always the wager would be a void bet.

Next we turn to substitutions and first goal betting. If your player comes off the bench when the FGS winner has already been settled, once again your bet is a void bet. Your player had no opportunity to score first and therefore you get your stake back.

On the other hand, if your player comes off the bench before the market has settled, be it 0-0 or a game in which the only goals thus far have been own goals, your bet stands as normal, regardless of how long your player gets on the pitch.

Lastly let us think about a player who starts the game but is later withdrawn. As this player had the chance to score first but didn’t, any bets will stand and be settled as a loser, regardless of the score when they were taken off or how long they played. Obviously a player who scored first and is later subbed still counts as a winner.

The final issue to consider concerns who scored a given goal, which can also mean whether a goal was an own goal or not. In the case of disputed goals the verdict of the official goals panel is not important for FGS punters.

How a goal is ultimately awarded won’t impact on first goal betting and instead almost all bookmakers use the verdict of the Press Association or the official broadcaster of the game, with both these parties invariably agreeing in naming the same player as the scorer of the goal in question. Irrespective of the merits of that decision, it is final for the purposes of your bet, and even if you are adamant your selection got the final touch, it will be these verdicts that matter when it comes to settling your wager.

Tips and Strategy

When it comes to betting on who will score the first goal all the obvious strategies, tactics and tips apply. That means that research is important and an awareness of recent form, trends and especially formations and team tactics is the best way to try and land such a bet.

One great way to find value on goalscorer markets is by being aware of any changes to who will take penalties and set pieces. If a striker has missed a couple of penalties and you have learned that the left-back is now on spot-kicks there is every chance that the bookies will be offering odds that are too high on that player to score first.

Similarly, if you know that your side’s full back is going to be used as a winger, the same may well apply. If you can be one step ahead of the bookmakers you’ve always got a great chance and any knowledge of this nature is sure to help you find a value bet.

Another thing to be aware of is players who may be on the bench. In a cup game against lower league opposition, for example, your star striker may be held back on the bench. Many bookies will perhaps still have him listed as the favourite to score first but if he is only going to be used in an emergency there is sure to be better value elsewhere. If, for example, you happen to know that a promising youngster is set to start, his odds may be significantly higher than they should and could hence offer great value.

Our final tip concerns using the no goalscorer market to your advantage. In a sense this is more of a tip for correct score bettors. 0-0 in the correct score market and no goalscorer in the FGS odds are quite often available at the same price. If this is the case and you fancy the game to finish in a bore draw, then backing no goalscorer is by far the better option.

Use the FGS odds to your advantage and this way, if the game ends 1-0 but the goal was an own goal you’ll still win, whilst your less savvy betting friends may have backed 0-0 and will be bemoaning their luck.

Last Goalscorer

Last goalscorer betting is quite similar to first goalscorer wagering but – sorry, again no prizes – instead you are betting on who will score the last goal of the game. The odds on first and last scorer are often the same and essentially the terms of the bet are also identical.

That means that only 90 minutes count, own goals are discounted (so if the last goal in the game is an OG it will be the penultimate strike – assuming that isn’t also an own goal – that is used for settling last scorer bets) and bets on players who don’t play are voided. Equally it will be the official decision on who scored that is used to settle these bets.

The only difference is with regards to players who are substituted. Bets will stand on any player who plays any time at all during the game for last goal purposes. As such, if your player is taken off with the game at 0-0, even if that is due to a first minute injury, your bet will stand and, unfortunately, lose.

From a strategy perspective, it’s important with last scorer odds to choose a player who is likely to play the full game. A striker returning from injury or an older player who usually only plays the first hour or so clearly has less chance of scoring the last goal.

Similarly a fast striker who is often used from the bench against a tiring defence may offer great value, whilst players who often score on the counter may also prove good options when it comes to last goalscorer betting.

Anytime Goalscorer

Anytime goalscorer betting is another similar option, although the odds in this market will be significantly shorter than in either first or last goalscorer wagers. As the name suggests, this is a bet on a player to score at any time during the game. Because they don’t need to be the first or last scorer their chances of success are clearly higher, hence the shorter odds. As a very rough example, where a player’s FGS odds are 4/1 or 5/1 you might expect to find anytime scorer odds closer to the 6/4 mark.

Again, most of the rules are the same and that means that, despite the “anytime” title, goals scored in extra time or during a penalty shootout won’t count. When it comes to time on the pitch the rules differ from first scorer but are the same as anytime scorer. In short, if a player doesn’t get any game time the bet is voided; if they do, the bet stands.