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National League Play-offs

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I must admit I didn't think I would be writing any Non-League previews for a long time and to be honest I don't massively agree with there being play-offs in the first place as the ending of the season on PPG will never sit right with me. Anyway we do have play-offs so hopefully there will be money to be made. The first thing I will say is a lot of the clubs seem to be being very secretive about things. Friendlies have been played, but hardly any results have been announced and some clubs aren't even saying who is available. Some clubs have lost players as they have been announced as signing for other teams, but I suspect there will be other players who aren't available because they want to move clubs but it hasn't been announced yet. It is a very unusual situation and clearly it makes punting tricky. It wouldn't be a total shock if we saw some surprising names not on the various team sheets. Still with what we do know I think there are some bets to be had.

National League

One friendly result we do know is that Notts County lost 3-1 to Dorking on Saturday. I was shocked by the result initially, but County played two separate 11's in each half and it was clear they were just using it as a training session especially as they don't have to play until the 25th. Also they wanted to avoid injuries and Dorking apparently had 3 so I suspect Dorking were taking it way more seriously than County were so I am not concerned. I thought Neil Ardley was very clever in sorting out his play-off squad ages ago just in case there were play-offs. To me County have been the most prepared out of all the clubs and you would hope that would stand them in good stead. Also it is worth remembering how bad they were at the start of the season, which is not a surprise given they nearly went out of business a year ago. I think if they had of had a clear run of things last summer they would have won the league and they look the strongest side going into the play-offs. The other key thing for me is they scored plenty of goals from outside the box during the season and I can imagine that will come in very handy in games where teams haven't played a proper game for months especially if they end up at Wembley. I would have them as favourites myself so 5/2 with Bet365 looks a cracking price. 

Notts County 2pts @ 5/2

National League North

We do know a few of the clubs in the North play-offs are missing players and it really ought to be York's to lose. York were harshly treated by PPG as they would have beaten Kings Lynn to the title in my view given Kings Lynn only won the title on the basis they had more games called off. It would seem York are at full strength heading into the play-offs from what I can tell and that should put them at a big advantage. There probably isn't a great deal in the price to be honest, but it is worth a small interest.

York 1pt @ 13/8 with Bet365

National League South

Strictly speaking Havant should be hard to beat here, but then Havant should really have won the league with the squad they had and they were unlikely to have beaten Wealdstone had the season continued. The main reason for that was there home form where the dropped silly points. Maybe no fans being in the ground will make things easier for them, but I am going to look for a team at a bigger price instead. If Steve King had been in charge of Dartford from last summer then I think they would have gone close to winning the title. He transformed them from a team who were in a relegation battle to one who ended up in the play-offs. Yes they are likely to have to play 3 away games to win promotion, but with no fans there home advantage is certainly lessened in my view. From what I can tell they have a full squad to chose from and their manager is certain to have them ready for this given his experience. I think the 12/1 with Betway is more than generous.

Dartford 1pt @ 12/1 with Betway

Match bets to follow

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The first weekend of action in the play-offs sees what the National League like to call the eliminators. The National League play-offs will be live on BT Sport whilst the North and South games will be on a pay per view stream should you wish to watch them.

Boreham Wood v Halifax (Friday night 7pm)

A couple of seasons ago Boreham Wood upset the odds by getting to the final of the play-offs and I have a feeling that they might be capable of doing it again. Tonight they announced their 20 man squad for the play-offs and there is plenty to like about it. All the players who played in their last league game feature and they look really strong up front. Luke Garrard has done a hell of job with them this season and they look a good side. Halifax only have 3 strikers coming into the play-offs and losing Devante Rodney was a huge blow to their chances. I think Halifax are probably slightly fortunate to be in the play-offs as well as they were losing their form and they certainly benefited from having an amazing start to the season. I obviously would carry more confidence if it was a normal play-offs, but the 11/10 with William Hill is an attractive price.

Altrincham v Chester (Sunday 1.30pm)

Fair play to the Chester players who are playing for nothing to help the club afford to take part in the play-offs, but I think it could well be for nothing. They have suffered from losing players including their star striker who decided to go to Gloucester City instead! I was hoping that we should see odds against about Altrincham because they looked on paper to be the best bet of the first round of fixtures and low and behold we can get 13/10 with William Hill and as I write no one is odds against. Altrincham ended the season in good form and they have goals in them as well as being pretty solid at the back. On paper they are certainly the stronger team and hopefully they can prove it on the pitch.

Slough v Dartford (Sunday 1.30pm)

Going to have to try and watch two games at the same time as both bets in the Step 2 play-offs frustratingly kick off at the same time. This one is pretty self explanatory given I think Dartford can win promotion. Slough were in pretty awful form when the league stopped and as I mention in my outright preview Dartford have been superb since Steve King took over and are value for more points than they ended with in my view. 12/5 with William Hill is way too big in my view.

Boreham Wood 1pt @ 11/10 with William Hill

Altrincham 2pts @ 13/10 with William Hill

Dartford 1pt @ 12/5 with William Hill 

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It is going to be a crazy afternoon on Saturday trying to watch 6 games that all overlap with each other. Quite why the National League thought it was a good idea to have them all clashing like this I don't know. I have 3 bets again and lets hope for another 3/3.

Harrogate v Boreham Wood (2.30pm live on BT Sport)

Boreham Wood weren't great in the first half last week against Halifax and it was shocking defending/goalkeeping for Halifax's goal. 2nd half though they were much better and fully deserved the victory. Matt Rhead is always going to be a danger at set pieces and he scored from a superb corner and that is going to be a threat again. To be fair to Harrogate I think they would have pushed Barrow close. They were frustrating early in the season as they kept dropping silly points especially when I put them up as a bet! There were only 6 points between these two teams when the season finished and the difference was Boreham Wood drew 3 more games as they had both lost 9. Given they improved after 45 minutes of football I think they will improve again in their 2nd game back and as I mentioned last week they are so strong up front which for me could be the difference here. Bet365's 5/2 is just too big for an away win.

Notts County v Barnet (5pm live on BT Sport)

Having tipped up County obviously I am going with them here as well. Given how many defenders they had missing you have to give Barnet credit for keeping Yeovil out last week and there was some great last ditch defending. The woodwork also helped them out and I think they will find it harder to keep out the home side. As I mentioned in the outright preview County are capable of scoring wonder goals from the edge of the box and Barnet are going to struggle to defend those. They created very few chances at the other end as well although someone like Paul McCallum only needs one chance and he scored a good goal against Yeovil. Keeping him quiet will be key for the home side as well, but I think they are capable of doing that and 11/8 with Bet365.

Havant & Waterlooville v Dartford (3pm live stream)

Dartford looked really good in the 2nd half against Slough last week and were good value for their 3-0 victory. I think they can beat Havant in this on the back of that. As I mentioned in the outright piece I think Dartford would have been title contenders had Steve King been in charge and that brings them much closer to Havant than the league table has them. Havant have a superb side on paper and really ought to have won the the title, but they dropped so many silly points at home. With no crowd maybe that wont be a factor here, but Dartford will be full of confidence and will have the belief that they can win this. What I will say is that I think the play-off winners will come from this game as I think both teams have the edge over Dorking and Weymouth so I wouldn't put anyone off having a cover bet on Havant winning promotion given we have a big price on Dartford anyway.

Boreham Wood 1pt @ 5/2 with Bet365

Notts County 1pt @ 11/8 with Bet365

Dartford 1pt @ 9/4 with Bet365

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Usually I would have been posting my ante-post preview this week, but instead we have the 3 play-off finals to look forward to. Annoyingly York were knocked out against Altrincham last week, but they just weren't clinical enough in front of goal. We are in a good shape though with the other 2 divisions. I thought Notts County looked good last week and had few worries in beating Barnet 2-0. Obviously those on at 5/2 don't need to go in again, but if you haven't already played I do think the 2/1 that William Hill is too big. I don't really understand why Harrogate are as strong favourites as they are. They dominated the first half against Boreham Wood last week although in the end it was a pretty scrappy goal in the 2nd half which won the game for them. Jack Diamond in particular was very good and County will have to keep him quiet, but I think they can as they are strong defensively. I have said all along that County's big plus is the fact they score plenty of goals from long range and I really think that is key in a game which is likely to be fairly tight. They didn't score from range last week but Callum Roberts used some great skill to score a great goal. I'm looking forward to the game which is live on BT Sport on Sunday at 3pm and hopefully County can do it.

With York out we don't have anything riding on the North final and I am going to keep it that way. There isn't much between Boston and Altrincham at the prices and I don't have a strong view either way. In the South we are in very good shape with Dartford at 12/1 (or 9/1 if you couldn't get on with Betway) and although it went through my mind to cover Weymouth I am not going to. Weymouth had a good bit of fortune in seeing off Dorking on Saturday given the penalty they got in the first minute shouldn't have been given as the foul was outside the box and then the winner in injury time was a goal the scorer knew little about as the ball just bounced off him. To be fair Dartford had a bit of fortune as well given Havant went down to ten men, but as I said in my preview in that game I did think the play-off winners would come from that match and for me Dartford are the strongest team. Steve King has reached the National League South Play-Off Final 4 times now and has yet to win including last year with Welling, who I had also tipped up. Hopefully he can put that right here and the 2/1 with Bet365 is still worth taking if you haven't backed them already.

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9 hours ago, Johnmccain said:

Disappointing that there was no extra time for the Nat South playoffs! Dartford certainly seemed to have the upper hand for most of the game.

Is that a Covid thing or does it always go immediately to penalties? Is the Nat Prem the same with that?

The league said there would be no extra time because of Covid, but the managers weren't happy about it and it didn't make much sense to me given teams could use 5 subs. I thought Dartford edged it and might have nicked it in extra time. Those pens were 3 of the worse pens you will ever see and I can't remember seeing a team miss their first 3 before. Notts County defended as well as Dartford took pens, but Harrogate seemed to want it more and they certainly ran out deserving winners. Given they were in with a chance of catching Barrow as well the right team went up really although County's players will be frustrated they blew it.

A frustrating end to what was a profitable set of matches. Who knows when the new season will start as I am not sure the October 3rd for the National League and mid September for Steps 3 will actually happen, but we shall see. Thanks everyone for reading the previews and it was another solid profitable season on the match betting. Ante-post wasn't so good although we ended up with most of that back anyway. I will be back with an ante-post preview when the time arrives.

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Thanks once again @Darran for your valiant efforts this season.

Match betting was very good and you are clearly beating the market consistently.

As for the 2019/2020 ante-post, it was too bizarre for words. The national league was almost upside down with the likes of Woking flourishing and Fylde floundering, we cannot really legislate for such things and will just have to sit back and laugh. Having such a big drought in ante-post this year just makes me think we're due to run much better in future.

Credit to Bet365 who voided non-league ante-post selections due to the season being curtailed. :ok

Not all operators were so generous, I won't name names but they know who they are. :spank

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