Wimbledon vs Bolton | Saturday 14th August 2021, 15:00
I am backing goals at Wimbledon and Bolton.
Wimbledon appear to have carried on the end of season form with plenty of goals in their matches. In their last 12 matches last term, Dons' games saw 34 goals with the Wombles finding the net in eight of these games, racking up 21 goals. In the previous 34 games they only scored 33 goals, conceding 57 so it was a huge change of form and attacking prowess that enabled them to keep their League One status.
Manager Mark Robinson was only appointed in February and should be given huge credit for what he achieved. He has now taken charge of 12 home league matches with a total 34 match goals scored, keeping just three clean sheets and scoring in nine.
Despite losing main striker Joe Piggott to Ipswich in the summer, the hosts still have good attacking players with Ollie Palmer, Luke McCormick and Ayoun Assal, whilst big things are expected of Brentford loanee Aaron Pressley.
Wimbledon's opening game against Doncaster ended 2-1, which was a game of few changes yet still saw three goals. This was followed up with an impressive 1-0 win over Charlton in the League Cup where they managed 12 shots against a side that had an impressive defensive record under manager Nigel Adkins.
What I like about this side is, Robinson has young side that don't appear to fear playing against anyone. They are attack-minded with a youthful exuberance but at the same time well organised and will be up for this game as it marks the first league game at the New Plough Lane. The fans will be looking forward to this game and no doubt will be eager to see their side attack a newly-promoted Bolton side.
Bolton were probably the best side in League Two last term from the turn of the year. They ended the season with 16 wins in 22 games, losing just three games after the end of January. I really like their squad with Dapo Afolayan signing on a permanent deal along with Declan John. Josh Sheehan will add some midfield quality with on-loan winger Xavier Amaechi is an England U20 international.
Wanderers also have players such as Lloyd Isgrove, Antoni Sarcevic, Kieran Lee and Eion Doyle up top. Whilst Amadou Bakayoko has been getting a lot of attention with his start to the season.
The Trotters started their League One campaign with a 3-3 draw at highly-fancied MK Dons. In all honestly, they were the better side. They won the xG 2.04 vs 1.26, won the shot count 14 to 10, whilst both sides hit four shots on target. MK Dons still managed to generate a xG of 1.26 so there will be opportunities for Wimbledon to find their way on the score sheet.
Last season away from home, Bolton found the net in 20 of their 23 games, conceding in 15. It's only one game into the season but it might be that Evatt has got his side to be a little more open and attack-minded than last season, where at times they struggled to break sides.
Evatt has talked this week about the away support and wanting to put on another good performance. I think both sides will attack, and we will see goals. Both Teams To Score can be backed at 19/20 with 10Bet.
Swindon vs Carlisle | Saturday 14th August 2021, 15:00
Swindon surprised several pundits with their opening day win over Scunthorpe and I think we might be in for a decent game. The fans will return and there is now a positive atmosphere at the County Ground.
The long-awaited takeover finally happened and then there was a flurry of incoming activity followed with midfielder Ben Gladwin the first through the door. Striker Tyreece Simpson was next on a season-long loan, with Kaine Kesler Hayden also joining for a season from Aston Villa. Defender Akin Odimayo kept the momentum going, and he was followed by Mohammad Dabre and Harry McKirdy.
Anthony Grant, Romoney Crichlow and Ryan East completed the cycle of signings just days before the season kicked off. It's now very much a new look team.
Swindon were worthy winners in their opening game generating a xG of 1.61 with 16 shots and eight on target. Simpson, was a constant threat and will lead the line again acting as the focal point for their forward movement. He's lively, and a handful, and he'll cause problems with his intelligent movement.
Given it’s a new look side, I think there will be concern defensively. Most players have played very little football together and maybe only trained for a week or so with each other. That gives me concerns about them at the back. The Irons managed to score last weekend from a xG of 1.21 with nine shots, four on-target and six shots from inside the box. Carlisle should have the quality to exploit that.
Carlisle were very unfortunate last season due to several off-field issues. They sat top of the table after 25 games, then they went on a run that saw them win just five more games from the remaining 21 games. Despite that they still ended the season with 60 goals scored, the seventh-highest in the division, conceding 51 whilst keeping just six away clean sheets.
The Cumbrians opened their season with a 0-0 draw at home to Colchester but that doesn’t really tell the story. The had 18 shots, six on target with 12 from within the penalty area, racking up a decent xG of 2.09.
Carlisle will be hoping striker Zach Clough can play and if paired alongside Callum Guy they should provide an excellent midfield for League Two. Guy provided more assists than any other player last season in League Two
Both sides have the ability to get on the scoresheet. Swindon will be up for the game with the fans now back, whilst Carlisle will be looking to kick off their season following their opening stalemate last weekend. On the opening weekend these two sides hit 35 shots with 18 from within the box and a total xG of 3.50.
The goal line has been set at 2.25 at 93/100 which means that if there are only two goals scored, we will get half our stake back and we need three or more goals for this to be a winner.
Barrow vs Hartlepool | Saturday 14th August 2021, 15:00
Barrow are underrated by the bookies I feel, and they face a side who will struggle to survive in my view in Hartlepool. Barrow appointed Mark Cooper, who was previously at Forest Green, to progress on their first season finish of 21st place and he is a manager full of experience at this level.
The squad has gone through a bit of an overhaul with 13 players released or sold, but they have recruited well, especially defensively with Mark Ellis. Joe Grayson and Remeao Hutton. Overall, this is a better squad than last season despite the loss of Scott Quigley up top.
Last season I had Barrow 15th on xP so nowhere near the relegation zone or the 21st place they ended up. The hosts' had the ninth-best xGA last season sitting alongside the likes of Bolton, Newport, and Forest Green. They did lose their opening game 1-0 to Stevenage, who should go well this season, but it was a tight game with just 14 shots and four on target, with Stevenage edging the xG 0.81 against 0.45.
Hartlepool came up through the play-offs last season via a penalty shootout, but the squad has a different look to it from last. Unfortunately, defenders Ryan Johnson and Lewis Cass plus forwards Rhys Oates and Luke Armstrong have all moved elsewhere in League Two.
Oates and Armstrong bagged 28 goals between them last season and they have been replaced Mark Cullen from Port Vale, who has scored just seven goals in his last two seasons.
There must be concerns over this squad and their ability to survive at this level. They won their opening game against a woeful Crawley side who managed just 0.31 xG without registering a shot on target and I think that result has pushed them into the wrong odds for this game. Crawley manager, John Yems didn’t hold back when commenting on his side’s performance, saying it was embarrassing and unacceptable.
I think that puts the 1-0 win in a different light and Barrow deserve more respect going into this game. Given that Barrow can be backed at 8/5 to win the game I am keen to back them on the Asian Handicap 0.0 at 17/20. This means that if the game is a draw, we will get our stake back and if Barrow win, we get paid out in full. I think this is a nice safe bet.