EFL fan Tom Love (@TomLove_18) has been tasked with tackling the ante-post Top Goalscorer market ahead of the 2020/21 League One season.
WLB Season Preview 2020/21 | League One: Top Goalscorer
John Marquis (20/1 Bet365)
Many Portsmouth fans weren’t best pleased with manager Kenny Jackett last season, to my surprise. But when you look at the size of the club and the ambitions, it could be said that Pompey have stagnated and failed to really progress in the last couple of years.
Finishes of eighth, fourth and fifth, along with two failed play-off attempts, could be seen as a slight failure perhaps. The style of football is far from what Jackett was able to produce when he was at Wolves in League One as they stormed to the title and 100+ points in second gear for most of the campaign.
All-in-all though they are a solid outfit who look more than capable in all positions.
The man who will be charged with the goal-getting is former Doncaster striker John Marquis. Marquis came in for around £2m – a sizeable fee at this level – but failed to really spark into life as he settled in. However, the number nine has pedigree in winning the Golden Boot gong in his time in South Yorkshire with 26 goals in 2016/17, he also placed in 18/19 when coming joint-second only behind Luton’s James Collins.
Marquis has proved a handful in every game I have seen him play live and looks to have everything a modern day striker needs. More than capable in the air, clever with his movement and he has a real knack of being in the right place to tap home. If you look at his 14 goals in all competitions last season, I’d say the average distance from goal would’ve been about six yards, but that’s what being a good striker is all about.
The 28-year-old has the likes of Ronan Curtis and Marcus Harness either side of him who can provide a decent amount of assists. He is likely to be on spot kicks too if Gareth Evans isn’t in the starting line-up.
It may seem a rather obvious pick but someone who has won the award once before and placed the season before last, leading the line for a well-fancied side, and available at 20/1 (Bet365) makes it a strong each-way selection. I expect him to be in the running, for sure.
Fejiri Okenabirhie (100/1 BetVictor)
My ‘wildcard’ pick in League One is a player who is continuously improving.
Fejiri Okenabirhie was Shrewsbury Town’s top scorer in the 2018/19 season with 16 goals in all competitions so it was a surprise that in the January of this year they let him go for a relatively small fee to divisional rivals Doncaster.
It was a coup for the cool and collected Donny gaffer Darren Moore who described Okenabirhie as chiefly a number 9 and going on to say he is a “clever player who can link play as well as cause problems for defenders with his pace in behind as well as a real eye for goal”.
The former Dagenham front man also was effusive in his praise of Moore and felt he would suit his style of football perfectly. From the small amount of time he got to play, he did impress with two goals in three games.
Okenabirhie's still relatively young at 24 but he now has a maturity about his game. One thing that I like about him is his decision making. When to hold off a defender and then sharply turn him, or when to drift away from his marker to create space for himself. He’s also shown his predatory instinct in the 18-yard box in his time at Shrewsbury. He is becoming a more rounded striker and with the number nine on his back there’s little doubt he will be the main man up front for Rovers this campaign.
There’s some very interesting players in Jason Lokilo from Crystal Palace and Taylor Richards from Brighton who also have come in that could provide the ammunition.
Richards is someone I’m especially excited to see in the middle of the park – I saw him play the other year for Manchester City U23’s in the EFL Trophy at Valley Parade and he ran the show. His vision was excellent and he always looks for the forward pass, I can already see him and Okenabirhie linking up superbly.
Rovers also have the evergreen James Coppinger, who is always good for a few assists, managing four in his last seven at the back end of last term.
Quotes of 100/1 (BetVictor) could look huge come the end of the campaign and I’ll be all over the each-way helping at that price.
Colby Bishop (100/1 BetVictor)
Accrington have always been a terrific team in the transfer window. John Coleman and assistant Jimmy Bell have had a minuscule budget to work with but have always scouted players who make a mark, whether that be from non-league, Premier League academy rejects, or even from over the Irish sea. It’s old school scouting, done properly.
Stanley plucked striker Colby Bishop from Leamington in the National League North after the striker bagged a monstrous 29 goals in 36 games for the Brakes. He has settled in at Accrington well, recording a double-figure goal return last season and he’s expected to improve further on that in 2020/21.
Standing at 6'3, Bishop is no slouch in the air and with the quality delivery of Sean McConville he will be notching a few headers this season. He’s also shown poaching qualities and strong anticipation to latch onto rebounds. The mark of a proper striker, some might say.
Bishop is also on spot-kick duty and that’s a huge bonus for any goalscorer based bet. As he’s got adjusted to life in League One he has shown the qualities to be able to not only compete, but succeed at this level. Strike partner Dion Charles works tirelessly off the ball and does a large majority of the dirty work for Bishop.
I have more faith in Coleman to do a great job compared to any other League One manager and he will get the best out of the front man. His price of 100/1 (BetVictor) for a pen-taker is certainly worth an each-way poke at such hefty odds.