Fri, Aug 5, 2011
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Crawley Town strolled their way to the Conference title last season for some good football and spending a lot of money along the way. In some quarters they were criticised for buying the title but it was a successful formula.
This season Fleetwood Town are attempting to do the same thing on a slightly smaller scale and have built a good squad and don’t be surprised to see them right up there towards the top at the end of the season. At a best priced 9/2 they could be worth a punt but will it come off two seasons running.
Fleetwood should probably be favourites for the title but that role has once again been taken by Luton Town. The Hatters have been a big fish in a relatively small pond over the past couple of seasons and have been unlucky not to get back to League 2. This season however I do think that they are favourites only on name as to me the squad looks short on quality this season and I think that they are in danger of now becoming just another Conference club. The biggest price 7/2 is terrible value and I will be taking them on.
Luton are one of three sides in the division that have been as high as the second tier of English football within the past decade. The other two being Stockport & Grimsby. Stockport have been relegated in each of the past two seasons and this season will give them a chance to regroup and I can see them finishing comfortably in the top half.
Grimsby are set for their second year at this level and they are an interesting side this year. They were as short as 7/1 third favourites a year ago but never really got going and finished in mid-table. The squad has been added too over the summer and if they can sort out their defensive frailties then they are a team who will be exciting to watch and worth an each way punt at 18/1.
Last season’s FA Trophy winners Darlington look a good each-way bet this season. Manager Mark Cooper over achieved whilst at Kettering Town having them in the promotion race for two consecutive seasons. He has also managed at a higher level. The Quakers are very organised and don’t concede many goals. If they can turn some of last season’s draws into victories then I can see them having a great season.
York City are another interesting side. They lost in the play-off final in May 2010 and suffered big slump in form at the start of the next season where there was even talk about relegation. However they picked up immensely in the second half of the season and were odds on for the play-offs again until their form tailed off again. If they can find their mid season form from last season then they will be right in the thick of things.
Other sides who should be up there are Mansfield and Wrexham. Mansfield have been disappointing since being relegated from League 2 but will be hoping to build on the form that took them to the FA Trophy final last season. Wrexham had a good season last time around and their impatient fans will be expecting more from Dean Saunders side this time around.
Lincoln find themselves at this level for the first time since 1988. They seemed comfortable in league 2 last season until a record of just two points from their last eleven games cost them their place in the league. They have kept hold of manager Steve Tilson and several key players. Tilson will be using all his experience to try and get The Imps promoted at the first time of asking and I do think that they will finish in and about the play-off places.
At a bigger price Forest Green could have a good season and can be backed at a good price. I should think that the title is out of reach for them but they could well make an outside push for the play-offs which would be a nice change for the fans who always seem to be watching a side in a relegation battle. They could also give punters an interesting season if backing them in the handicap.
Darlington – 10/1 Skybet, Blue Square & Coral
York City – 12/1 Tote, Betfred & William Hill
Grimsby Town – 18/1 William Hill
Forest Green – 18/1 (+21) Paddy Power
Of the four sides promoted to the division I think that Alfreton could go well and continue the progress that they made last year. The other promoted sides will see survival as a successful season. My tip for relegation has got to be Southport. There are no prices for this market yet and they won’t be much of a price either but the selection were relegated last season and got a reprieve when Rushden & Diamonds were expelled from the division. Thinking that they were down they lost some players and will now be entering the conference season with a weaker squad than they had last season.
Southport – When the prices are made available
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