If you enjoy a flutter of a Saturday afternoon, then the chances are you’re feeling slightly in disarray this week given the absence of any elite-level club football. Yep, it’s a darn international break again this weekend, and with most of those fixtures being friendlies there really is very little for serious punters to sink their teeth into.
So, an appreciation of the lower leagues of English football wouldn’t go amiss, and we’re going to shine a light on an often overlooked division that does offer some excellent betting potential on any given week: the Vanarama National League.
In your mind you might imagine the fifth tier of English football is made up of long ball merchants, journeymen pros and muddy pitches, and to a certain extent you’d be right.
But this is also the level that many young talents released from Premier League clubs find themselves at as they look to rebuild their professional careers, so be under no illusion there are some handy players lighting up the National League.
The 2017/18 campaign has been a rather unpredictable affair, with the form book regularly being torn up and just six points separating Dover in first from Hartlepool in twelfth!
That scenario doesn’t necessarily lend itself to a quality betting experience, but with the fixture list as it is on Saturday there is still plenty of options for punters to ponder:
Halifax Town vs Woking
In the lower echelons of English football, it is essential that a good cup run can be maintained – especially in the FA Cup, where big pay days await.
Indeed, to some extent cup fixtures take priority, so keep an eye on Woking on Saturday. After battling to a draw with Bury last time out, they will now have the chance to claim a place in the second round at Gigg Lane on Tuesday; a fixture which will surely take precedence over this.
The fact that the visitors have lost their last three in the league also cannot be ignored.
Let’s little to be said for Halifax, who are showcasing some so-so form of late, although it must be said they are generally decent at home (W4 D2 L1 of their last seven). They can also call upon the goalscoring talents of Tom Denton and Matty Kosylo, who have bagged eight between them in nine outings at the Shay.
The 21/20 available on a Halifax victory is of value.
Dover Athletic vs Eastleigh
It’s something of a perfect storm for Dover at the moment, who possess both the best defensive record in the National League plus the division’s top goalscorer in Ryan Bird.
Bird has notched nine times this term, although remarkably seven of those have come at his side’s Crabble Athletic Ground.
Another frontman who enjoys home comforts is Eastleigh’s Ben Williamson, who has found the net eight times this season but only once on the road.
Dover are unbeaten in eight (W4 D4 L0), and given their defensive solidity – and Eastleigh’s lack of teeth on the road – we must bac the hosts to win this at a shade under Even money.
Torquay United vs Maidstone
Old school football fans may remember Torquay United as a league side for a number of years, but they have fallen on hard times of late and are now in desperate trouble of being relegated to the Vanarama South.
The Gulls have won just one of nine on home soil this term, and have shipped two or more goals in five of that nine. That is hardly the foundation of a solid season.
Maidstone have paired Joe Pigott with Zavon Hines up front this season, and while the duo have registered an excellent 13 times between them it is defensively where they have shined of late; shipping one or fewer goals in seven of their last nine.
They’ve won 5/8 on the road, including lengthy trips to Barrow and Halifax, and really they are in the ascendancy at the moment – in contrast to Torquay.
Combined, just one of this pair’s last ten matches have gone over the 2.5 goal line, so there has to be scope in the Maidstone to Win & Under 2.5 Goals market at an eye-catching 9/2.