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Beat the Bookies: Week 1
By: Rob Sedgwick
AFTER weeks of waiting we can all forget about cricket, tennis, motor racing and golf and concentrate on the only sport that really matters: football. It's that time of year when we size up the close season and try and forecast who will succeed and who will fail come May.
League Two on paper looks a much weaker division than last year. Promoted clubs Dagenham and Morecambe are both newcomers to league football and are not fancied to do well. Likewise the teams relegated in place of Hartlepool, Swindon, Walsall and Bristol Rovers do not look to be as strong as their counterparts this year.
The two clubs with a bit of money and the bookies; favourites this season are Peterborough and MK Dons, both of whom came close to getting promoted last season.
Then we come to the Mariners. A promotion place is there for the taking but Town's squad does not look strong enough (yet) to me to be serious automatic promotion contenders, but I don't think they will be struggling as they did a year ago when Graham Rodger was in charge (this time last year I was already betting on us to get relegated!). If you fancy Town to get promoted or relegated you can get reasonable odds for either eventuality with Town around 5/1 (Ladbrokes) to go up and 16/1 to go down (Betfred). Personally I am hanging fire on the Mariners until the season proper starts and we have a better guide as to their likely form.
Of the other promotion hopefuls I really fancy Wycombe. They have released the aging Tommy Mooney to Walsall but have signed no less than eight new players including Scott Shearer, Martin Bullock and the experienced Gary Holt. Wycombe have looked certainties to go up at Christmas for the last two seasons, only to fall away in the new year. This season it could be third time lucky for the Chairboys.
The perennial relegation fodder of Rochdale, Barnet and Bury (minus their old friend Torquay) are joined on the bookies' coupons by Accrington, Morecambe and Dagenham this season. Accrington were poor in the second half of last season, their crowds and stadium do not suggest a club capable of much better than the lower reaches of League Two, and their summer signings are hardly inspirational. I would expect Morecambe and Dagenham to survive with the novelty of league football giving them a fillip in their first season as it did Stanley last year. As ever the likes of Rochdale and Bury will somehow manage to clamber their way free of trouble as they have for most of their existence. Accrington are my choice to go down, and the bookies make them favourites for the drop too.
Beat the Bookies has made a substantial profit in its two seasons to date and if you had followed every bet you would have got a decent return for your money.
This week's bets (£ 10 each)
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