NON-LEAGUE expert Paul Maddison (@LouthBigDog) shares his best bets from the opening Saturday of the new National League campaign.
Stockport v Maidenhead| Saturday 3rd August 2019, 12:30 | BT Sport
The National League campaign kicks-off in front of the BT Sport cameras at Edgeley Road on Saturday afternoon as Stockport take on Maidenhead in their first game back at this level following their National League North success last season.
I've been surprised by the lack of activity in the transfer market by Jim Gannon. Stockport lost last season’s top scorer – Matt Warburton to Northampton – and left back Scott Duxbury who played a key role in their promotion. Neither have been replaced and to make matters worse, striker Darren Stephenson suffered a double leg break in the club’s final friendly last weekend.
Maidenhead's pre-season looks to have gone well with a draw against Wycombe and a win versus Stevenage in the last 10 days. Those results come on the back of a 1-0 win in probably the most bizarre friendly of the summer, against the Kuwait national team.
I expect this to be a tight game, and if I had to call it I'd probably side with the Hatters – the price looks plenty short enough though. So instead, I'm heading to the First Goalscorer market where the player that has caught my eye is in good form, netting five times in Stockport's last eight (including friendlies) – all five goals were also opening goals.
That's quite impressive, and the player in question can be backed at 40/1 with various bookies. The reason being is that Ashley Palmer is a centre-back – with the loss of goals from their attack, set-pieces could be very important for the home side and Palmer is commanding in the air, and could well get chance from corners and free kicks.
I'm also backing the 18/1 Anytime angle with Paddy Power.
Aldershot v Fylde | Saturday 3rd August 2019, 15:00
Aldershot finished last season in 21st – eight points from safety – but were given a reprieve as Gateshead were relegated for off-field problems. The Shots were planning for life in the National League South less than two months ago, so preparation for the upcoming season hasn't been ideal.
Fylde have also had less time than most to plan for this campaign as their season went on over three weeks longer than most of their rivals, due to their involvement in the play-offs and the FA Trophy final.
I'm expecting the Coasters to bounce back from their play-off heartache and be challenging at the top of the table again come April. It's looking like Dave Challinor has managed to hold on to star striker Danny Rowe for another season, as he aims to make it six years on spin for striking 20+ goals for Fylde.
Fylde weren't great on the road last season, and at times looked like they overly relied Rowe. Challinor has added a bit more quality in the attacking third and I really like the look of Matty Kosylo from Halifax. Kosylo looked a threat for the Shaymen last season and a move to a more attacking team should see him flourish at this level.
I'm backing the away side at 21/20 with Bet365 to get their season up and running at the first time of asking.
Wrexham v Barrow | Saturday 3rd August 2019, 15:00
Wrexham's form at home last season was very impressive – the Dragons managed to pick up 54 points from 23 games at the Racecourse Ground, conceding just 13 times.
Bryan Hughes has managed to keep his key players together and will be hoping his side can push for a long awaited return to the EFL. The Dragons main problem last season was in front of goal, but the Welsh side have looked to address that issue with the additions of JJ Hooper – who had a good loan spell with Bromley in the second half of the season – and Leighton McIntosh from Scottish side Airdrie.
Opponents Barrow finished last season in 11th and I wouldn't be surprised to see them in mid-table again this term. There are plenty of teams who look more likely to struggle than the Bluebirds, but I'd be surprised to see them fighting for a play-off berth.
The 9/10 (Marathon) on the Welsh side to start the season with three points looks a decent price to me – not many teams will leave Wrexham with anything this season.
Stockport v Maidenhead – Ashley Palmer to score first (40/1 Coral)
Stockport v Maidenhead – Ashley Palmer to score at anytime (18/1 Paddy Power)
Aldershot v Fylde – Fylde to win (21/20 Bet365)
Wrexham v Barrow – Wrexham to win (9/10 Marathon)