WLB 2015/16 Preview | League One | Specials


WE asked Football League fanatic Matt Vale (@MattDVale) to talk us through the best specials on offer in League One. You won’t be disappointed.

English League One | Specials

In League One, I expect Wigan and Sheffield United to justify their favouritism tags by securing promotion (a dual forecast is available at 20/1) but every single team in the division will fancy their chances of sneaking into a top-six place. The newly appointed (and hugely confident) 23-year-old Wigan chairman has targeted not only the league title but a minimum of 100 points and some believe that signing Will Grigg is the final piece in the jigsaw.

There are enough doubts off the field, mind. Will an inexperienced manager and chairman be able to climb back into the Championship at the first attempt? We shall see but it’s very difficult for a team going off scratch or +3 in the handicaps to win it outright. Bristol City had a fantastic season last time around but still only managed to scrape home by two points and Wolves amassed 103 in 2013/14 and still managed to miss out.

In fact, 100+ points has been required to top the League One handicap table in the past seven seasons so it's worthwhile focusing on a team you think are likely to reach that milestone as well as acknowledging that the winning handicap over the past eight seasons has been +4 (Bristol City), +22 (Leyton Orient), +30 (Yeovil), +5 (Charlton), +13 (Brighton), +38 (Exeter), +30 (Swindon) and 2+4 (Millwall).

So, that brings our attention to the slightly lesser fancied sides. Bury catch my eye because they’ve been geared up for League One football for twelve months now. They should have won League Two at a canter (only a poor run – and poor pitches – around Christmas prevented them from doing so) and they’ve strengthened further with the signings of Tom Pope, Peter Clarke and Leon Clarke. They're bound to give you plenty of excitement along the way but +13 is a little skinnier than I had hoped.

I also fancy Bradford to go well. The FA Cup money from last season plus 18,000 season tickets sold and the smart captures of Steven Davies (Blackpool) and Mark Marshall (Port Vale) might set the small but talented squad up for a successful season. They’ll need to find someone to score 15-20 goals and I'm not sure that Billy Clarke, James Hanson or Davies can do that and losing Andrew Davies (Ross County) was a blow and the final nail in their handicap-backing coffin.

Ultimately they’re all trumped by Justin Edinburgh’s Gillingham at +18 at 18/1 with Bet365. Edinburgh is a promising up-and-coming manager who has excelled at both Newport and now at Gillingham. They haven’t shone too brightly in the transfer market this summer but the signings of Deji Oshilja and Ben Williamson may just prove to be a lot better than people imagine.

The Gills are on the up and, although I don’t think they’ll finish inside the top-six, there’s enough about them to get pretty close to both the play-offs and to topping the handicap.

At the other end of the table, its worthwhile opposing Chesterfield wherever we can with new boss Dean Saunders achieving a great deal of hopelessness and relegations at Doncaster, Wolves and Crawley.

Chesterfield shone last season, reaching the play-offs, but the loss of manager Paul Cook (Portsmouth), Jimmy Ryan (Fleetwood), Sam Clucas (Hull) and Gary Roberts (Portsmouth) plus the imminent exits of Sam Morsy and Tendayi Darikwa means they’ll be up against it this time around. It’s a tight division and the 6/1 on offer for the Spireites to be relegated is worth checking out.

Best Bets

English League One – Gillingham +18 handicap (18/1 Bet365)

English League One – Chesterfield to be relegated (6/1 Bet365)

English League One – Wigan and Sheffield United dual forecast (20/1)

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About Author

The grandson of an on-course bookmaker, Matt was never going to escape the world of sport betting and has been a recreational punter since the age of 18. A stint as a Fellows Park ball boy in 1989 left Matt as an avid Walsall FC supporter and, as such, he's built up a wide knowledge of teams, players and pubs in the lower leagues as well as a pessimistic outlook on life, culminating in a penchant for the Under 2.5 goal market.

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