NON-LEAGUE expert Paul Maddison (@LouthBigDog) shares his favourite fancies from the opening weekend of the 2018/19 National League season.
Salford City v Leyton Orient | Saturday 4th August 2018, 12:30 | BT Sport
The curtain raises on the National League with a game on BT Sport involving two teams widely tipped for promotion this season.
Big spending Salford take on Leyton Orient in a game that will receive a lot of attention from the footballing world. I’ve seen many people slate the way Salford have gone about their business, but the calibre of player they have bought in can only be a good thing for this league.
I’m not as keen as the bookies on the Manchester-based club and I think it could take several weeks for their new players and manager to settle in to life in the National League.
Their opponents, Leyton Orient took time to adjust to the fifth-tier of English football last season, but after a slow start, and a change in manager, they finished the season much stronger than they started. Orient have a team with plenty of experience and crucially they managed to keep hold of last term’s 22-goal man, Macauley Bonne.
Speaking at the end of last season, Justin Edinburgh stressed how important he felt making a good start to this season was to him and I fancy the O’s to kick-off their campaign in style.
I’m giving myself a bit of a cushion due to the obvious quality in the Salford squad and backing Leyton Orient in the Draw No Bet market at 9/5 (888).
Barrow v Havant & Waterlooville | Saturday 4th August 2018, 15:00
When I saw this fixture pop up I was keen to get with the newly-promoted National League South winners, Havant & Waterlooville.
The visitors had a great record away from home last season winning 46 of their 86 points on their travels. Havant have strengthened well and I fancy them to be comfortably mid-table, at least, come the end of the season.
In contrast to that, Barrow managed to stay up by the skin of their teeth. If it wasn’t for Woking having such a poor second half to the campaign, the hosts would have certainly been relegated. A big part of Barrow’s problem was their home form as they won just one of their final 15 matches in front of their own supporters.
Havant’s odds to win the match have shortened since opening, but I still think there is value in the Anytime Goalscorer market. Alfie Pavey, who joined this summer from Dartford, had a great 2017/18 – he managed to find the net 22 times and collected the award for the National League South Player of the Season.
I tend not to pay too much attention to pre-season friendlies, but it looks like Pavey will be taking spot kicks for his new club too after netting three in his last three games. He’s 9/4 with Bet365 to get on the scoresheet here and that looks a great price.
AFC Fylde v Bromley | Saturday 4th August 2018, 15:00
Bromley will be disappointed with the way their season finished as they lost the FA Trophy final and missed out on the play-offs by just three points. It looked like their cup run ultimately cost them a shot at the play-offs as their form dropped off after securing their spot at Wembley.
I fancy Bromley to be hovering around the same echelons this term, but they couldn’t have gotten a much tougher opener.
AFC Fylde had a solid home record in their first season at this level. Only the two promoted clubs picked up more points at home and I fancy them to go well again having managed to keep hold of Danny Rowe – who netted 24 times last season -plus Danny Philliskirk and Ryan Croasdale will add a lot of creativity and guile going forward.
Fylde are available at 10/11 with William Hill to win the match and I’m backing them to make the perfect start to the season.
Salford City v Leyton Orient – Leyton Orient draw no bet (9/5 888)
Barrow v Havant & Waterlooville – Alfie Pavey to score at anytime (9/4 Bet365)
AFC Fylde v Bromley – AFC Fylde to win (10/11 William Hill)