The third tier of English football is an entertaining mix of sleeping giants, ambitious minnows and wily campaigners, and always offers clued-up football punters plenty of opportunity to cash in. Here are four tips that will hopefully yield a handsome profit this weekend.
Blackburn v Doncaster
The favourites to win League One suffered an opening day shock, going down 2-1 at Southend. As a result, they have drifted to 11/2 in the league winners market, which looks like an overreaction similar to that seen last season in the Championship when Newcastle lost their opening two games. A League One campaign is usually full of surprises and it doesn’t pay to put too much emphasis on any one result. Blackburn remain the top team in the division on paper and can pick up their first win against Doncaster.
Doncaster struggled against lowly Gillingham in their opener and its worth noting that although they had the best home record in League Two last season, they were not quite as effective away from home, losing four of their six games against fellow top-seven sides. They haven’t strengthened their squad over the summer and they look vulnerable against a strong Blackburn side. Back the home team for the win at 10/11 with William Hill.
Northampton v Fleetwood
This is an intriguing match-up between a team with a strong home record and opponents who are excellent on the road. Fleetwood showed a remarkable ability to win away from home in the second half of last season, winning nine of their last twelve away from Highbury Stadium.
Northampton got off to a slow start last week with a disappointing 1-0 defeat against Shrewsbury, but they had a generally strong record at Sixfields last season. They don’t tend to score too many and are over-reliant on the goals of Marc Richards, so could struggle to get much out of a strong Fleetwood defence, but ought to be able to dig out a point so backing the draw at 5/2 with Ladbrokes looks a good option.
Rotherham v Southend
Some teams that drop down from the Championship are able to bounce straight back, while others sink without a trace, and Rotherham are more likely to belong to the latter group. Given how poor Rotherham were last year, and the fact that they have lost most of their best players this summer, they could well be joining the list of five sides in the last ten seasons that have dropped from the Championship to League Two.
By contrast, Southend are a club on the up. They went close to earning a play-off spot last year, but spent wisely in the summer and kicked off their new campaign with an eye-catching win over favourites Blackburn. They look a good bet for the win at 19/10 with SkyBet.
Walsall v Oldham
Two teams likely to be among the relegation candidates go head to head at the Banks’s Stadium and this one is unlikely to be a thriller. Walsall have gone backwards since Dean Smith left for Brentford and struggled for goals last season, while showing alarming deficiencies in defence under inexperienced manager Jon Witney.
Oldham do at least manage to keep it tight at the back, and in fact conceded three fewer goals than champions Sheffield United last season, but managed to find the net only 31 times and have failed to address their goal-scoring problems in the transfer market. Both teams were among the top five in the division for number of drawn games last season and a mutually frustrating stalemate is on the cards here. Back the draw at 5/2 with Ladbrokes.