Bury 2.08 v Walsall 3.95, the draw 3.60

Lee Clark kept Bury up by the skin of their teeth last term, and following a major overhaul and some exciting summer signings, we can hopefully get off to a good start on Saturday by backing the Shakers.

Clark swapped Kilmarnock for Gigg Lane and conjured a run of just one defeat in eight games during the end of the campaign to get his team over the line. Deals to bring in Jermaine Beckford, Nicky Ajose and Chris Maguire to the club ahead of the new season suggest there's a fair bit of firepower to come. He also added Tom Aldred from Blackpool to give some steel at the back. He is a good leader.

They surely have a goal in them this weekend?

Walsall, and in particular their manager Jon Whitney, need a fast start. I get the feeling a slow one might just increase the pressure (although the same could be said for any boss at this level). Hanging over the Saddlers is their wretched run from last term. According to Opta, they picked up just six points from their last 10 matches in 2016-7 - no League One side collected fewer.

Whitney has a job to keep Erhun Oztumer in the face of some speculation, although club legend Matty Fryatt is back training with the Saddlers.

Historically, there are goals in this fixture. Both games from last season between the pair ended 3-3, and 17 goals came in three meetings with the two. Clark went with a 3-5-2 last term and he has width - so this could be open.

Bury have historically fared well in this fixture - losing just two of their last 13 league games with the Midlands' team. The Shakers also won their opening fixture 2-0 at home to Charlton last term.

I rate Clark, and he was a quality operator at this level with Huddersfield (great days). And whilst we are taking a bit of guess with new-look teams, the price is a fair one considering the summer additions.

Recommended Bet

Back Bury 0.5pt @ 2.08 to beat Walsall

Shrewsbury Town 2.52 v Northampton Town 3.00, the draw 3.65

Both of these teams had complete summer overhauls. Shrewsbury remarkably stayed in the the division thanks to miracle worker Paul Hurst - and they ended up with 51 points. Northampton meanwhile have gone for the skills of Justin Edinburgh (and my lookalike apparently) to mount some sort of challenge. They need improve greatly on last term's poor campaign.

Whether Edinburgh is the man to do it, we shall see. His first season was a good one with Gillingham. His second, less so.

Let's deal with Salop first, who seem to have raided the 'lucky dip' of the loan market from Premier League and Championship clubs. Whilst the odd gem can be unearthed, too often it doesn't work. Out of Hurst's 11 signings, five were loan deals for youngsters. I am afraid it's not the sort of league where Academy football translates well. I find those matches pretty dull with every single game the same - obsessed with possession and doing nothing with it.

The Cobblers have gone for proven players at this level - with the likes of Iraqi international Yaser Kasim, and former MK Dons' winger Daniel Powell. The latter's a good player but seems to have gone nowhere.

Edinburgh will play a 3-5-2 according to reports, and this looks a complete major reshuffle from 12 months ago. Northampton conceded a lot of goals last term, with the Opta stats highlighting the fact that only Gillingham (79) and Chesterfield (78) shipped more than Town.

The Northampton local press said that their team could either finish in the bottom or in the play-offs. Which pretty much sums up this division.

However, at the prices and just with the experience at this level, the Draw No Bet on the visitors looks the call. Defensively I have never been convinced by Edinburgh, and am half-tempted to go with Over 2.5 Goals - but we'll save that for another day.

Recommended Bet
Back Northampton Town Draw No Bet 0.5pt @ 2.20 v Shrewsbury

Fleetwood Town 2.44 v Rotherham United 3.15, the draw 3.55

The price is all important in this great game. Take Charlton at 2.32 at home to Bristol Rovers this weekend. The Addicks were poor last term, yet Fleetwood finished in the play-offs with 82 points. Yet we can still back them at nearer 6/4 than the south Londoners. Sometimes the name is still king.

The Cod Army were an excellent team last term with a great home record. This was achieved with a fast, counter-attacking style with a system using wing-backs. Manager Uwe Rosler knows exactly what he is doing, and for me, is one of the prized assets of this league. He was linked with the job at Norwich over the summer, so it's good news for Town fans he remains. He is the best tactician at this level.

Rosler has also built a good ethos at the club. He ties up young players to long-term contracts, and sells players for good money. However, it was a blow losing David Ball over the summer, to of all clubs, Rotherham.

I don't know too much about the Millers as they were not my territory last term in the Championship. From Opta stats however, they tend not to start well in the third tier as they have not won any of their last eight opening day fixtures.

Opta tell a different story for the Cod Army, who have yet to lose an opening day game in the Football League (W2 D3).

Rosler has added Jordy Hiwula on loan from Huddersfield, but he's a player that has spent more time at this level than with the Terriers - and he grabbed nine goals in 41 appearances for Bradford City last term. The Town manager has also raided former club Leeds with Lewie Coyle.

Recommended Bet
Back Fleetwood Town 0.5pt @ 2.44 to beat Rotherham 

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