NON-LEAGUE expert Paul Maddison (@LouthBigDog) shares his favourite ante-post fancies ahead of the new National League season.
WLB Season Preview 2017/18 | National League
The bookies look to have got the Outright market right, I believe. But the 7/2 (888) available on Tranmere to take top honours still looks like a backable price.
The Wirral outfit finished second last season on 95 points – that tally would have clinched the National League title a few times over the past 10 years, although the average is closer to the 98-point mark.
Tranmere have kept the bulk of their squad together while making a few decent signings which should help them press on and go one step closer to a Football League return this time around.
James Alabi, Ollie Norburn and Jack Dunn all look great additions and should add bolster the attacking options in front of the second meanest defence from last season that leaked only 39 goals.
Of Rovers’ rivals, Hartlepool (12/1 Bet365) and Leyton Orient (14/1 BetVictor) came down from League Two last season and not many sides bounce straight back at the first time of asking. The Natioanl League takes a bit of getting used to so I’ll rule both Pools and Orient out.
Eastleigh (12/1 BetStars) seem to be there or thereabouts every season but never have enough to push for top spot. The bookies have Dagenham & Redbridge(10/1 Bet365) as second favourites (and maybe rightly so) but I just feel Tranmere will be too strong.
Rovers have the experience of their title challenge last season and with their canny additions, this could be their year. At the time of writing, 7/2 is still available with 888 whilst one operator offers odds as skinny as 2/1!
It was a fairly poor season for Wrexham last year but that shouldn’t deter us from putting our faith in the Welsh club.
Lincoln suffered a rather poor end to their campaign in 2015/16 before storming the division last time out and no doubt the Dragons will be looking to follow suit this time around.
Wrexham were almost my best bet for the title; they’ve bought in a lot of new players and hopefully Dean Keates can get them to gel quickly. I'd say Shaun Pearson is the pick of the newcomers; he had a very solid campaign in League Two last year and is a great defender at this level.
Add to that, Kevin Roberts stood out at Halifax last year and they look like their defence should be much more solid this time around. Other good signings appear to be Scott Boden, Marcus Kelly and Sam Wedgebury.
If the Dragons are to make a serious challenge for the title then I believe they are one decent goalscorer away but their summer business may not be done yet. They may need the play-offs to gain promotion but I would fancy them against most opposition and so the 15/2 (10BET) on promotion makes plenty of appeal.
A bit of a short price for an ante-post bet but it looks safe as houses, to me. Guiseley are 6/5 (BetVictor) for relegation and I’ll be sticking it in a couple of ante-post accas.
The Lions only survived the drop last season by the skin of their teeth – they were just one point and one place above the relegation zone with a worse goal difference than York, the side directly below them in the standings.
The National League looks to be a lot tougher this season with two decent teams coming down from the Football League. Three of the four clubs who’ve come up also look like they could go well and should be clear of a dogfight.
Guiseley could be in for a long and tough season.
The top four in the Top Goalscorer are players who ply their trade for either Tranmere or Dagenham & Redbridge. Undoubtedly these players are capable of scoring plenty of goals, especially in teams expected to go well.
However, with these clubs having options going forward, they could miss games due to rotation and the goals these teams score could easily be shared out. So I’ve looked further down the list for a slice of value…
Chester may not be the most glamorous side and will probably be around mid-table come campaign’s conclusion. They have re-signed Ross Hannah and he will probably be their main focal point going forward and possibly be on penalties too.
Hannah's quick and has a good eye for goal. He might get caught offside a little too often but he's scored plenty of goals at this level with his best season coming in 2015/16 with the Seals, scoring 23 times in 43 appearances.
If the 31 year-old can find the same form from his last spell at Chester then he could be pushing towards the top of the charts. With only one firm pricing up the market it may be wise to wait and see what other bookies are offering but 80/1 (Bet365) is a cracking price with a ¼ odds paid out on the top-four places when putting each-way.
National League 2017/18 – Tranmere to win outright (7/2 888)
National League 2017/18 – Wrexham to be promoted (15/2 10BET)
National League 2017/18 – Guiseley to be relegated (6/5 BetVictor)
National League 2017/18 – Ross Hannah to be Top Goalscorer (80/1 each-way Bet365)
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