NON-LEAGUE expert Paul Maddison (@LouthBigDog) shares his favourite fancies from the opening weekend of National League action.
It's been a long summer… Thankfully club football is back this weekend!
I've seen a debate on Twitter in the last week about betting in the first few weeks of the season; many say they don't bet at all, or they keep stakes small.
My view is that, if you have done your homework the beginning of the season is the best time to take advantage of some decent prices from the bookies, especially in the lower leagues where the layers may not be as well prepared.
Six weeks into the season the bookies have more data and are more likely to produce more accurate odds, giving the punter less value. Hopefully we can take advantage of this.
Halifax v Aldershot | Saturday 5th August 2017 | 15:00
Aldershot, who finished last season in a respectable fifth to newly-promoted Halifax. The Shots finished last season in great form, losing just one of their final 21 league games and will look to hit the ground running this season to give themselves every chance to challenge for promotion.
Gary Waddock has managed to keep the majority of his squad together so the team shouldn't need time to gel. I'd also expect Aldershot to be better prepared as a squad than their part-time opponents as they will have been able to spend much more time on the training pitch.
Halifax, who have been tipped to struggle by many this season, have also lost one of their best players from last term, captain Kevin Roberts who left in the summer for Wrexham.
Aldershot are 197/100 with Marathon to take the away win and that looks a cracking price.
Solihull Moors v Chester | Saturday 5th August 2017 | 15:00
My next bet is for Chester to win away at Solihull Moors at 43/25 (Marathon). The reason for this is based more on the problems that Solihull are facing rather than a huge liking for Chester…
Solihull actually picked up more points away from home than they did on their own turf last season. And over the last couple of years Moors have really struggled to hold on to some very talented players.
All three of Solihull’s top scorers from last season – Omari Sterling James, Akwasi Asante and Harry White- have all moved on, along with talented playmaker Jamey Osborne and striker Omar Bogle in the last couple of seasons.
They've also lost Nortei Nortey to Dover this summer – I'm not sure how good he is, but he's got the best name in football!
I just can't see where the goals are coming from for the hosts. Not one player is in the running for top scorer with Bet365 who have players with odds up to 250/1 to take the prize.
Chester scored plenty of goals in a fairly average season last year, with just one club who finished 10th or below managing to find the net more often. With the re-signing of striker Ross Hannah they should prove meaner going forward and I wouldn't be surprised if the visitors needed to find the net once to take the points.
Dagenham & Redbridge v Barrow | Saturday 5th August 2017 | 15:00
Finally, I am backing Dagenham & Redbridge to get off to a flying start. They face Barrow at home and I feel the team that finished fourth last term and who are second favourites for the title this season will waste no time getting off the mark.
The Daggers have a very experienced manager at this level in John Still and he has made what could be one of the signings of the summer after bringing in Michael Cheek from Braintree.
Although Braintree were relegated, Cheek still managed to finish fourth in the goalscoring charts netting 19 goals. He could go much better this season playing for a team aiming to be at the right end of the table.
Visitors Barrow will be without Byron Harrison, their top scorer from last season due to injury.
53/50 available with Marathon and I'd be surprised if they're still odds-against come kick-off.