FOOTBALL BETTING: Luton are far and away the bookies choice for the Conference this year but what other challengers do they potentially face? Chris Hutcheon previews.
Second in the division last season, eventually losing out to York in the play-off semi-finals, Luton will be confident of going one better this term and bookies share that optimism, Stan James posting 2/1 against the Hatters clinching first place in Blue Square Premier and Totesport quoting Richard Money’s side at 5/6 to regain their Football League status at the second time of asking.
As one of the strongest teams last time around, they have to be fancied to perform well and they look set to be potent in attack given that strike trio Tom Craddock, Danny Crow and Matthew Barnes-Homer are all well versed in finding the net at this level. Indeed Craddock is just 9/1 (888Sport) to be the league’s top scorer, however, Luton are perhaps a touch skinny in the betting when other sides are capable of challenging.
Victor Chandler’s 6/1 shots Crawley are expected to be the main threat to the Hatters having secured funds with the intention of reaching League Two. The Red Devils however, finished seventh last season and while an improvement on that can be expected, it might be too big an ask for Steve Evans’ side to clinch the championship.
Relegated Grimsby are next in the betting and they aren’t without a chance at 8/1 (Partybets). Charles Ademeno, at 20/1 with Skybet to be the Blue Square Premier’s most prolific striker, can fire them into the top five although it may take the Mariners time to acclimatise to their new surroundings.
Also entering from League Two are Darlington who are a 12/1 chance courtesy of Betdaq to make their stay a brief one by topping the pile, however beaten play-off finalists York are a better option at 12/1 with Jaxx.com. Richard Brodie is one of the best non-league marksmen in the business (he’s 9/1 at 888Sport to bag the most goals) and Bootham Crescent is a tough place to go so the Minstermen could have been underestimated a touch.
Meanwhile, at the other end, there are four positions teams will be aiming to avoid and three teams that will struggle to swerve those relegation berths are Histon, who have a young, inexperienced squad, as well as Eastbourne and Forest Green.