MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) highlights the best betting opportunities from the second weekend of the Football League season.
Wimbledon v Bolton | Saturday 15.00
Cast your mind back to the 2004/05 season – come on, it’s only 12 years ago.
Busted were number one, Fahrenheit 9/11 was winning at the Cannes Film Festival, Greece had been crowned European Champions and AFC Wimbledon were beginning life in the Isthmian League First Division.
On the other hand, Sam Allardyce was preparing for another Premier League assault with Bolton.
That 2004/05 campaign saw Wanderers finish sixth and Wimbledon win promotion to level seven on the football pyramid – on Saturday the two teams meet in League One. Enough of the history lesson, well sort of…
Bolton began life in the third-tier for the first time in more than 20 years with a solid and unspectacular 1-0 success over pre-season favourites Sheffield United last Saturday. In many ways it was a typical Phil Parkinson-led display.
The Trotters nullified the Blades and restricted their visitors to zero shots-on-target. Sure, Bolton were far from pretty – preferring a direct option and long throws where possible – but they were effective, just like Parkinson’s Bradford side.
The ex-Bantams boss will preach organisation, hard-work and defensive robustness and it appears he’s already began to have a positive effect on Bolton. The summer signing of Mark Beevers certainly adds clout to their backline and the three points represented a perfect start to a possible promotion push.
Meanwhile, Wimbledon are hoping to right the wrongs of the past seven days. The Wombles opened their account with a disappointing 3-1 reverse at Walsall – a missed opportunity considering the Saddlers had lost nine first-teamers over the summer.
Neil Ardley’s men were punished for sloppy errors and profligate finishing and following another three goals conceded during their EFL Cup exit in midweek, the Dons supremo will be hoping for a much tighter performance from his troops at Kingsmeadow.
Like Parkinson, Ardley and Wimbledon opt for a functional approach, favouring a direct style. However, that route may not prove quite so effective against the likes of Beevers and David Wheater in the Bolton defence.
I do have my reservations surrounding the Wombles this season and I do feel they’re being a little overrated in the markets, especially here.
The visitors may have managed just one away win in 33 fixtures but they do look a decent bet at 2.12 with 188BET off a 0 start on the Asian Handicap line.
Working in exactly the same format as the Draw No Bet market, we’ll see our stake returned if the match ends all square but pick up profit should Bolton walk away with maximum points. The only way in which we’ll end up empty-handed is if Wimbledon run out victorious.
Luton v Yeovil | Saturday 15.00
A round of applause to Luton for their fine start to 2016/17 under Nathan Jones.
The Hatters put in the perfect away performance at Plymouth last weekend to pick up a 3-0 victory and followed that excellent result up with a fine 3-1 triumph against Aston Villa in the EFL Cup on Wednesday evening.
The Bedfordshire boys were already amongst the League Two front-runners in the ante-post markets but their opening seven days have only strengthened those claims. Understandably, it’s seen Luton’s odds to see off Yeovil here shrink to unbackable levels.
Jones earned his stripes at Brighton as a coach and then assistant manager and relished the off-season rebuilding job at Kenilworth Road. Oxford pair Danny Hylton and Johnny Mullins were impressive captures whilst the likes of Jack Marriott has the offensive quality to hurt any opposition outfit.
Welshman Jones saw his side sit back against Plymouth, preferring to attack at pace when the ball was turned over and a similar approach paid dividends against the Villans in midweek. But Luton are unlikely to be in a position to cede possession to Yeovil here.
The Glovers have made fabulous progress under Darren Way’s tutorship and kicked-off their own campaign with an impressive 2-0 triumph over Notts County last weekend. That result means the Glovers have now lost just eight of their 27 outings under Way, keeping 12 clean sheets.
Way is a stickler for preparation, organisation and hard work and will relish the Greens’ role as underdogs here and I really wouldn’t be surprised to see Yeovil find a way to stifle their hosts here.
However, I’m going to leave the Match Odds and Asian Handicap markets alone and instead return to a goals-based angle.
Opposing goals has proven a profitable formula in Yeovil’s encounters under Way – 19/27 (70%) League Two matches under his watch have featured Under 2.5 Goals – as have 11 of the Glovers’ previous 18 away trips.
Luton will be asked to take the attacking initiative and although they can call upon a glut of goalscoring quality, they might not have it all their own way. Surprisingly, 10 of the Hatters’ last 12 Kenilworth Road matches have fallen below 2.5 goals line, as well as 16 as hosts overall in 2015/16.
My inclination is for another low-scoring duel and Under 2.5 Goals holds plenty of appeal at 1.95 with 188BET.
Crewe v Portsmouth | Saturday 15.00
Despite residing in the third or fourth tier for 63 of their 71 post-war seasons, Crewe have never been a non-league team. And if first impressions are anything to go by, Steve Davis’ side should avoid that fate for 2017/18.
The Alex opened with a 2-1 triumph a Stevenage – substitute Alex Kimowya scoring an audacious individual goal to gift the Railwaymen the points alongside captain Ryan Lowe’s earlier strike.
Post-match Davis lavished praise on his substitutes, including Chelsea loanee Kiwomya, with both goals arriving from counter-attacks when Crewe changed the pace of the game having turned over possession.
Beating Stevenage won’t win immediate promotion back to League One but Alex supporters will have been pleased with their performance. After all, this is a side that suffered demotion scoring just 46 goals and leaking 83 last term.
The Railwaymen lacked leaders last year so it’ll be interesting to see if they’re ready to front-up to perennial promotion favourites Portsmouth on Saturday.
For the first time in eight seasons, Pompey improved upon their league position last time out and Paul Cook’s determined to end the south-coast club’s stay in the basement division this time around.
Cook’s added League One calibre singings in Carl Baker, Noel Hunt and Danny Rose amongst others and they mean business.
Portsmouth put in a very one-sided display in their 1-1 draw with Carlisle last weekend and they’ll also need to sharpen up their away-day game in 2016/17 if their aspirations are to bear fruit.
Despite scoring 37 goals on the road last season, Cook’s charges were involved in 17/23 wining Both Teams To Score bets.
I’m keen to explore the BTTS option again. With Adam Webster sold, I’m still happy to oppose this Portsmouth defence and so, with such a glittering array of attacking talent to call upon, this encounter looks ripe for another BTTS bite at 1.84 with 188BET.
Crewe were a little toothless too often in League One but they still managed to play their part in 16/23 successful Both Teams To Score selections at Gresty Road. If we tie that record in alongside Pompey’s road return, the pair have enjoyed a 72% success-rate in this market – that makes the 1.84 on offer real value this weekend.
Wimbledon v Bolton – Bolton 0 Asian Handicap (2.12 188BET)
Luton v Yeovil – Under 2.5 Goals (1.95 188BET)
Crewe v Portsmouth – Both Teams To Score (1.84 188BET)
That’s right. We’re giving away £10 instant cash if Alexis Sanchez touches the ball in Sunday’s game against Liverpool at the Emirates.