Exeter City 2.20 v Cambridge 3.80; the draw 3.60
Paul Tisdale, Exeter's long-serving manager, said recently he didn't envisage making any more signings before the end of the transfer window in August, apart from maybe trialists Ryan Harvey or Ryan Brunt (who has now signed permanently), both formerly of Plymouth.
It was a bold statement a month before the deadline. It shows he believes strongly in the existing squad and the few players he has added since defeat in the play-off final in May. Lack of signings might also be why Exeter are a relatively ignored 20.00 in the League Two winner market when, as losing playoff finalists, they might expect to fair better than sixth favourites. Mind you, Luton and Mansfield are heavily backed at the top, probably for good reason.
One of two other Exeter recruits, Dean Moxey, 31 - returning to the club after eight years - clearly has his sights on promotion even if he is not guaranteed the left-back position which he says he would prefer, given a choice. Craig Woodman is well established there. Moxey has played in midfield and as a striker since he left St James' Park and has much experience. The other recruit is also a re-signing, Luke Croll.
The big question about the Grecians is how much will they miss Ollie Watkins, who has moved to Brentford for an undisclosed club record fee, and Nathan Ampadu who has signed for Chelsea? At differing levels, both were substantial contributors last season.
Sometimes clubs which lose in the playoffs go on, the next season, to gain automatic promotion comfortably and sometimes their form completely falls apart.
Tisdale isn't worried that David Wheeler and Reuben Reid have missed a few sessions in pre-season because Exeter only finished at the end of May, so have had a shorter break. However, keeping those two players fit would seem crucial. Reid scored 13 goals in 31 starts (5 substitute appearances) to keep up his ratio of the two previous seasons, when he scored 42 goals in 108 (plus 8) appearances. He is clearly a prolific striker, proven at this level. Exeter scored 75 goals last season, say Opta, their highest return since 1989-90.
Cambridge will have equal ambitions of promotion, but are they quite as confident and settled? New faces include Jabo Ibehre, who had a stunning start to 2015-16 with Carlisle (17 goals in total) then managed just 10 last season. He is 34 now. Maybe Ade Azeez, 23, who knows this division from AFC Wimbledon, can offer a lively foil having been recruited from Partick Thistle.
Shaun Derry might want to play high tempo, but he surely can't rely on a midfielder to top score again - Luke Berry scored 17 last season - whatever his quality. Opta states that he scored 11 more than any of his team-mates.
Derry seems happy with his defensive midfield duo of Liam O'Neill and Gary Deegan but keeping goals out is only half the battle. Piero Mingoia and Harrison Dunk can provide width and therefore chances, which points to a possible over 2.5 goals being scored. There have been plenty of high scoring games in the past two season starts in League Two. Add it to the Exeter victory and trust that the hosts have put an inability to win at home well behind them.
Back Exeter City @ 2.20
Back over 2.5 goals @ 2.20
Accrington Stanley 2.20 v Colchester 3.55; the draw 3.70
When you lose a pre-season match and the manager cancels your Sunday off and says there is "no room for mistakes", it means one of two things: he's a ruthless task master after perfection or the team is under cooked. Most managers wouldn't make a big deal of it and pass it off as a friendly. In public at least.
John Coleman has always made the best of average means, wheeling and dealing to bring in players on free transfers and polishing them into stars for other clubs. Shay McCartan is the latest to move on, for Bradford's revolution, leaving Sean McConville to remain the key player around whom to build a team, who now include an eclectic range: non-league recruit Liam Nolan from Southport and ex-Rangers winger Mekhi McLeod, 20, who never made an appearance for the Glasgow side. Last seen playing in non-league, Coleman will know all about him.
Omar Beckles is not to be messed with at the back and Accrington, as usual, might be underestimated by many. But not the layers this time. They have them short enough against Colchester on the opening day. The U's lost Chris Porter to Crewe over the summer and on top of that John McGreal had a bit of a clear-out.
Recruits such as Ryan Jackson (Gillingham) and even those for whom fees have been paid such as Cole Kpekawa (Barnsley, undisclosed), Mikael Mandron (Wigan, undisclosed) will have to settle into a new-look line-up. This could be a good start for Accrington, who, Opta stress, have won both previous league encounters with Colchester, both 2-1.
Back Accrington @ 2.20
Morecambe 2.90 v Cheltenham 2.70; the draw 3.50
Sometimes you just get a feeling - and I think this will be a 1-1 draw. It goes against the results from last season, when Morecambe lost twice to the Robins, Opta emphasise.
A couple of home games for Morecambe early on last season took Blackpool and Portsmouth by surprise and August was good to the Shrimps. Sadly, it has often been the case for Jim Bentley's men, who end up struggling come the end of the season.
Like Accrington, they will pick up players they can afford rather than make "marquee" signings. Garry Thompson has been brought in from Wycombe and Vadaine Oliver from non-league York. At least he knows the League Two territory. Maybe that's the point with Bentley's recruits, but it doesn't exactly indicate an ability to act like promotion chasers, like some others who recruit from higher levels.
Cheltenham, who struggled after promotion, have had a bit of an overhaul, not least with Billy Waters departing for Northampton and the experienced Asa Hall also leaving. A clear-out has prompted a range of recruits, from Jon Flatt (Wolves) and Jerell Sellars (Aston Villa) from above, and Mohamed Elsa (Greenwich Borough) from below. It is always great to give non-league players their chance, remember Jamie Vardy didn't start at lofty heights.
So there will be sore feet in the summer heat at the Globe Arena and both teams might be glad to start with a point each. Morecambe are winless in their last eight games against Cheltenham, Opta reveal, and have only won two of 10 Football League openers, and from three home game starts have never won - drawing twice. Meanwhile the Robins have lost only two of their last 12 opening day fixtures, drawing three. Whatever the historical statistics, that feeling for a tentative opening day draw persists.
Back the draw @ 3.50 half a point
Back 1-1 @ 7.00 half a point
Home » Tips for betting » League Two Betting: Confident Exeter to start with victory
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