1:23pm, Tue 14th Aug 2012
The opening weekend of the Blue Square Bet Premier was a difficult one for punters as their money went astray on a number of unpredictable results. Favourite backers were let down in a number of matches including odds-on shots Luton Town and Mansfield Town – the two sides at the front of the title market. Championships are not won (or lost) on the opening weekend of the season and the same can be said of relegation. Title winners have lost their opening games in the past, relegated sides have also won their opening games. It made for an incredible weekend where 42 goals were scored in the 12 matches, but didn’t make it any easier to tip up winners.
So on Tuesday, with excuses out of the way, we move on to the second round of games. The game of the night sees title favourites Luton Town travel to Kidderminster Harriers with both sides seeking their first win. The manner of Luton’s comeback against Gateshead at the weekend will send them into this game with plenty of confidence and boss Paul Buckle has made a point of focusing on the positives revealing that he only showed his side the second half of the game on DVD to show what they are capable of when taking the game to opponents. The Hatters are the Evens favourites to win at Aggborough, where they have won 2 and drawn 1 since dropping down into the division. In fact Harriers have not beaten Luton in the last six league games between the clubs. A home win is priced at 11/5 and a draw offered at 5/2. Luton remain title favourites despite their home draw with Gateshead on Saturday. It doesn’t get any easier for Ian Bogie’s side who now take on second favourites for the title Mansfield Town at the International Stadium. The Heed are 11/8 favourites for a home win following Mansfield’s shock home defeat to Newport County on Saturday. Paul Cox’s side are 8/5 to win this match having been as short as 4/6 to win at the weekend. The Stags cannot afford to give their fellow promotion hopefuls a head start like they did last year and defeat here would be a huge blow!
Cambridge United will be happy with their 1-1 draw achieved at Forest Green Rovers on Saturday and move on to a home match against Lincoln City in which they are the 4/5 favourites to claim all three points. Lincoln will be delighted with their home win over well fancied Kidderminster Harriers and can be backed at a price as big as 11/4 to make it back-to-back wins – something they only managed twice last season. The Imps failed to score in two matches against Cambridge in the last campaign as The U’s took maximum points. Forest Green Rovers travel to AFC Telford United at one of the shortest prices they have been for an away game in the division. Rovers are now classed as title contenders and have been priced accordingly for an away game at a side who are expected to finish in the bottom half of the table. 10/11 for an away win may put off punters who would like to see evidence of Dave Hockaday’s side challenging for honours. Telford are 12/5 to build upon a solid point achieved at Barrow on Saturday with a win here.
I expect Grimsby Town and Stockport County to both improve this season and I’ll be interested to see how they perform against each other at Blundell Park. Home advantage pitches Grimsby as the 10/11 favourites with Stockport at 12/5. Stockport beat Alfreton on Saturday whilst Grimsby were held to a draw late on at Southport. Both of those sides meet at the Impact Arena where Alfreton are the 6/5 favourites to get their first win. Southport are 15/8 outsiders to build on the excellent away record they had in the division last season – one which would have placed them fourth on those games alone. Wrexham were the only team in the division to win by more than one goal at the weekend and that has placed them at the top of the early table. They exploited mistakes from newly promoted Woking to run out easy 3-1 winners but face a stiffer test at Macclesfield tonight. They are possibly playing the Silkmen at the right time though as it still looks as if boss Steve King has some work to do in gelling his squad – particularly in defence. The Red Dragons could be on maximum points of 6 by their third game and look worth backing at 6/4 to win at Moss Rose.
Elsewhere Ebbsfleet United will be on a high after their 5-4 win at Nuneaton at the weekend and look like a good bet to follow up at home against Braintree Town. The Fleet are 5/4 favourites to beat their visitors from over the water in Essex. Nuneaton need to get over that hammering and take the positives out of scoring four goals. They have a difficult game at Newport County, who also scored four – with reward – at the weekend. Newport are the shortest price of the midweek programme at 4/6 to take another three points. Hyde’s late draw at Braintree with 10-men saved us some money as Scott McNiven’s side were well backed to win their first game. They are 6/5 at home to Barrow tonight where the away side need to find their scoring touch. Going back to last season their blank on Saturday made it 8 of the last 12 league matches where the Bluebirds have failed to find the net. Hereford won the first game of the campaign in front of the live TV cameras on Friday night and look like a good bet to win at Tamworth, priced at 5/4. Last season’s promoted teams from the Blue Square Bet South face-off at Kingfield where Woking are expected to continue with the upper hand with a victory at 4/5 to confirm superiority from last year’s double over the Kent outfit.
Alan’s Best Midweek Treble:
WREXHAM – to win at Macclesfield Town
EBBSFLEET UNITED – to beat Braintree Town
HEREFORD UNITED – to win at Tamworth
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