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Non-League Ante Post 2020/21

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Usually I write this at the end of July so it certainly seems strange to be writing it in mid-September. One of the the other strange things is the fact that the 4 Step 3 leagues start before the National League's and that has meant bookies have been very slow in pricing it up and as I type this Bet365 are the only ones who have priced up all 4. That's great news, but what isn't great news is the fact they aren't taking any each-way bets in those divisions. I have been in contact with them and been told it was a trading decision. It is really frustrating and although I was putting up some win only bets anyway, there were certainly teams who made e/w appeal.

These 4 leagues were made null and void in March and that means we have the best form guide we have ever had and it is no surprise that the 4 favourites were those 4 teams who would have likely won their divisions for Covid-19 hadn't hit. I must admit it wouldn't be a big surprise if we end up with another non-completion this season so that added to the fact the season starts in 2 days time means these previews are going to be pretty brief.

Also the National League's don't start until October (crowd restrictions allowing) so I won't be previewing them just yet as I am waiting for more bookies to price up Step 2 and with the Macclesfield situation most bookies have pulled their National League prices.

Pitching In Northern Premier League

South Shields tried everything they could to get promotion once the season was declared null and void, but it was just a complete waste of money as they were never going to get the decision overturned. Not surprisingly they are warm favourites at 11/8 for the title and I actually think that price is value. Money is still no issue for the club and they were a notch above their league rivals last season. They ought to be winning the title this season. I can see FCUM, Warrington, Basford and Morpeth all going well again, but I am going to cover Buxton who have strengthened really well over the break. They look to have a bit of cash based on who they have been signing.

Pitching In Isthmian Premier Division

I've backed Kingstonian the last two seasons and I am going to put them up again at 16/1 which is too big a price. On the basis they have got a fair bit of ground on Worthing as they were 10th when the season finished and 24 points behind them. They did have 3 games in hand though and they only actually lost one more game than Worthing. The problem was they drew 14 of their 31 games and that obviously cost them big time. It shows though that they aren't far away and they look to have improved again on paper over the break. They can be the one team to make the leap from mid-table to title contenders. Obviously Worthing are contenders having looked set to win the title when the season was stopped, but my other bet will be Hornchurch. They were another team who drew too many games last season having only lost 5 games. They had the best defence in the league and they look to have a good team yet again. At 10/1 they are worth backing as well.

Pitching In Southern Premier League Central

Tamworth were my main bets in this league last year and I think they would have won the league if it had of continued. They will be the main bets again this time around at 3/1. They look to have an even better squad this time around and I think they might be quite hard to beat. I also want Stourbridge on side. Getting Mark Yates in as manager was a cracking bit of business and he is more than capable of getting the best out of a strong looking squad.

Pitching In Southern Premier League South

3 against the field for me here. I really fancied Weston-Super-Mare last season and they disappointed a bit although towards the end they were getting it together. They have signed really well over the break and as long as it all comes together on the pitch they have one of the best sides in the division. Truro were the most likely winners prior to lockdown and they have got stronger if anything so I have to have them on side. The final bet is Taunton. They went so close to pipping Weymouth two seasons ago and seemed to feel the effects of that last season where they under performed a bit. I expect them to do much better this time around.

South Shields 3pts @ 11/8 with Bet365

Buxton 0.5pts @ 9/1 with Bet365

Kingstonian 1pt @ 16/1 with Bet365

AFC Hornchurch 1pt @ 10/1 with Bet365

Tamworth 2pts @ 5/1 with William Hill

Stourbridge 0.5pts @ 14/1 with Bet365

Weston-Super-Mare 1.5pts @ 7/1 with Bet365

Truro 1pt @ 5/1 with Bet365

Taunton 0.5pts @ 14/1 with Bet365



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1 hour ago, Darran said:

I must admit it wouldn't be a big surprise if we end up with another non-completion this season

Putting floods, plague and bankruptcies to one side; it is still going to be a more compact season than usual due to the late start. Have the non-league powers that be done anything to mitigate hefty fixture backlogs in the second half of the campaign? Suspending one of the non-league cups for a season for example?

Edit: Actually am I talking rubbish? Will the season finish later than usual anyway?

Edited by Mindfulness
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  • 2 weeks later...
So finally, it seems like the National League season is going to get underway on Saturday with the North and South leagues starting on Tuesday. Who knows if they will get through the season though and I'm not certain they will. Usually I don't write the ante-post preview so close to the season starting, but I obviously wasn't going to write anything until we had as much certainty as possible. It does mean that it will be shorter than usual though especially with Saturday's games needing to be looked at.
National League
The two County's head the betting with Stockport just in front of Notts. I prefer Stockport out of the two of them, but I don't think either offer any value at their current odds. Stockport are the money men of the division this season and they have a squad full of quality. Jim Gannon is a good manager and now he has a big budget to work with there is every chance he will be able to get them back into the Football League. The only issue is the price really for me as 4/1 is tight enough although I certainly wouldn't put people off sticking them in multiple bets especially if you are perming teams up.
Notts County let themselves down badly in the play-off final against Harrogate as they defended terribly in the first half and just couldn't contain a rampant Harrogate. They obviously come into this season in much better shape than they did last season where Neil Ardley barely had any time to get a squad together because of the off the field issues, so the fact they are more settled this time around is a plus. It is hard to not see them challenging, but the big issue for me is that losing play-off finalists tend to really struggle to get promoted the following season. Most don't do as badly as Fylde did last season, but the likes of Tranmere and Luton also suffered hangovers from losing the final. Tranmere's slow start cost them when they were a better team than Macclesfield and given how fast games are going to come, I am not sure any side is going to be able to recover from a slow start especially if the season has to be stopped at some stage.
Every other team is in double figures. Yeovil should go well again although they didn't end the season well before lockdown and they don't strike me as possible winners. Dagenham & Redbridge should go better than they have for a while and Paul McCallum is clearly a big signing. Not sure if that will be enough to see them win the title, but they are play-off contenders. I fancied Wrexham last year and they were shockingly poor. They will be better this season and with two Hollywood stars looking to take them over they could have plenty of money at some stage. These things can take their time though so it could be a while before the takeover actually happens and they are ones to keep an eye on at the moment. Plenty of changes at Solihull and they look short enough in the betting at the moment, but they were keen to get the season started so the funds are there which could have a part to play. Halifax look really short in the betting and I can't see them matching last season's play-off finish let alone win the title. Chesterfield seem to be priced up on reputation and they don't really excite me much either.
We have seen some big priced winners of the league in recent seasons and I am going to take a couple at long odds. When Boreham Wood reached the play-off final they lost their best players the following season and nearly went down. They bounced back last season though as Luke Garrard built another strong side to see them in the play-offs again. Crucially this time around though is the fact they haven't lost their best players and I am amazed no league club has purchased Tshimanga after the great season he had after moving from Oxford City. I think they look poised to go well again and given Luke has got his team into the play-offs twice now I see no reason why he can't get them close again. They look over priced at 20s. 
I was on Bromley last season and it was looking like a really good bet for the first few months, but their form went south and they struggled to win a game. I do wonder though if they might have still been able to finish in the play-offs if the season had been able to finish. They were pretty quiet for most of the summer, but they have added well the closer we get to the start of the season and the budget is the same as last time. They have been forgotten about for me and at 40/1 I have to get involved.
I like to get involved in the relegation market and although I got it badly wrong last season, it has been a profitable angle. I have a team in mind, but because of Macclesfield the relegation markets have been taken down. If they get put back up then I will likely be getting involved.
Boreham Wood 1pt e/w @ 20/1 with Bet365
Bromley 0.5pts e/w @ 40/1 with Bet365
National League North
It is frustrating that only 3 bookies have priced up the Step 2 leagues and Bet365 are win only so we are pretty limited as per the Step 3 leagues. York are the favourites at 5/2 which is no real surprise given I think they would have won the league if the season had been completed. Steve Watson has strengthened well in between the play-offs and the season starting and they should be fighting it out for the title again. The problem is the price doesn't offer much value given how competitive the league looks like being. Fylde are the only other team in single figures, but I have my doubts about how well they will go this season. They had a horrid season last time around and they might take a season to recover. Boston and Brackley are always in play-off contention, but I am not sure they will turn that into champions. Chester looked like they wouldn't have much money, but the fans have put in a lot of cash which has helped them although I can't see them winning the title. 
At the prices there are two sides I like. Spennymoor had a slow start to last season, but I think they would have been in the play-offs if the season had ended. They have recruited well over the summer and at 10/1 they look a solid each-way bet. The other team I like, and I can't believe I am writing this, is my own side Gloucester City. I'm not sure I ever thought we would be possible title contenders at this level, but for the first time in a long time we have a budget and team capable of competing at the right end of the table. On paper I think Gloucester have one of the strongest in sides in the division and signing the likes of Akwasi Asante from Chester shows the intent being shown. Asante does fitness issues, but when he is on the pitch he will score plenty of goals. My main concern is the manager as this is James Rowe's first job and he did struggle last season, but now he has the team he wants so there can be no excuses now. I think the doubts about him being up to the job is factored into the price though as 20/1 is too big for the side we have. The fact Gloucester are back at their own ground for the first time since 2007 is a big plus as well even whilst there aren't any fans.
Spennymoor 1pt e/w @ 10/1 with William Hill
Gloucester City 0.75pts e/w @ 20/1 with BetVictor
National League South
I honestly think this is pretty much a 3 horse race between the top 3 sides in the betting. Dorking and Billericay are also in single figures and will probably be hoping to get involved, but I am not sure either side have the manager capable of taking them to the title. Ebbsfleet went very much leftfield for their manager getting Dennis Kutrieb from a 5th tier side in Germany. They have signed plenty of players in the close season and look to have a strong side on paper. The big unknown is the manager though and for that reason I can't back them at this stage. Havant had the squad to win the title last season and their home form cost them big time as they kept dropping silly points at home. They have a good squad again and it will be interesting to see if the new 3g pitch helps their home form. I however prefer the side who knocked them out of the play-offs in July, Dartford. When Steve King took over they were looking like they might be in a relegation battle, but they were superb after he came in and it was a magnificent achievement to guide them into the play-offs. Regular readers will know I am a huge fan of Steve King as a manager and his record speaks for itself. I think he has improved the squad with his signings and they have a big chance of claiming the title.
Dartford 2pts @ 6/1 with Bet365
I am also going to add Worthing to the bets in the Pitching In Isthmian Premier. They have got off to a flying start and are looking really good so I want them onside at 5/2.
Worthing 1pt @ 5/2 with Bet365
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  • 1 month later...

First of all I am going to add a couple of ante-post tips to those I put up at the start of the season. It was hard to not be impressed with Torquay on Saturday as the hammered Hartlepool 5-0. For me they have the best manager in the division and he got Cheltenham promoted despite them not having the best squad in the league and he could easily do that again. They have only lost once and already 5 points clear at the top. 8/1 e/w looks a solid bet for me at this stage. 

The other team I have been impressed with in the past week is Boston and I think they have a big chance in the National League North. I am obviously happy with my 20/1 about Gloucester, but Boston looked good on Tuesday night despite the fact they dropped 2 points late on. It was clear they will be title contenders and again they look a solid e/w bet at 7/1.

Torquay 1pt e/w @ 8/1 with Bet365

Boston 1pt e/w @ 7/1 with William Hill

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