Hopefully you have enjoyed the ante-post preview and now we move on to the first round of matches in the 3 National League’s on Saturday. Obviously there has to be a degree of caution when punting on the first weekend, but I have found it to be fairly profitable over the years. Last year I put 5 teams up and only Darlington’s draw at Altrincham let me down for a 100% which given those two teams respective seasons was a really unfortunate loss in hindsight. This weekend I have 4 bets.
Hartlepool v Dover
When looking at the first set of matches all you can really go on is how you think both teams are going to get on during the season. I don’t really think friendlies offer much of a guide, because playing for 3 points is very different from playing against some Football League sides U21’s or a team from lower in the pyramid. If you have read my ante-post preview then you will know I think Dover are an outside bet for going down this season and Hartlepool really should be looking at the play-offs. Without Ricky Miller you really do wonder where the goals are going to come from at Dover this season, and Hartlepool look to have a very good attacking line-up headed by Padraig Almond. I think the home side would be odds on for this game if it were later in the season so William Hills’ 6/5 appeals.
Sutton United v Leyton Orient
The other relegated side Leyton Orient kick the season off as this game is live on BT Sport on Saturday lunchtime. Orient seem to be adding to their squad everyday at the moment as they try and get the strength of depth they need to compete at the top end of the table. They have put a decent looking first 11 together, but it worries me that it has all been a bit of a rush and this is a very tricky game to start their season with. Now I certainly think Sutton have been over-rated in the ante-post markets, but their home form was so good last season. They only lost 4 times and conceded just 25 goals in the process. This will also be Orient’s first ever competitive game on a 3G pitch which could be an issue, especially given how strong Sutton were on it last season. Orient are being backed and that means Sutton are drifting and aren’t far away from being 2/1 with Marathon which looks a value play.
Spennymoor v Stockport
As mentioned in my ante-post preview I think Spennymoor could go well this season. They would have got closer to Blyth, but for a very busy schedule and they are a well funded side. They kick their first ever season at this level by playing the biggest club (supporter wise) at this level in Stockport. This is the 5th season that County have been at this level and they haven’t even been in the play-offs yet. I think they should do this season, but Spennymoor could sneak in there as well and at over 2/1 with Marathon the home side look a value bet.
Bognor Regis v Bath
I think the home side are really going to struggle this season. They were promoted via the play-offs from the Ryman Premier last season, but then their manager left them the next day to join Eastbourne. They then hired one of the players who decided at the end of June that he wasn’t able to do the job combined with his everyday job. I think they might be a bit under prepared coming into the season and like I say I think they are set for a season of struggle this season anyway. Bath on the other-hand look set to be at the other end of the table and they look to have their strongest side since being back at this level. The play-offs look a reasonable target and at 33/20 (Marathon) I am happy to take them to get their season off to a flyer.
Bath City 1.5pts