Last season’s League One title race saw Wolves end a 19-year wait for a third tier favourite to clinch top spot. The Molineux club dominated the division, strolling to promotion with four games to spare and shattering the league record points tally in the process. But who’ll take the honours in 2014-15?
League one ante post – The 3 best bets
Sheffield United, Bristol City and Preston have dominated the betting in the summer months but at 17/2 and the outsiders of the trio, North End represent the best bet of the leading contenders. Over the course of the last seven seasons, the average price of the third tier winner is 9/1 and the Lilywhites look a great fit to continue that trend.
Simon Grayson’s team suffered only five league defeats in their final 35 matches and three of those came against promoted duo Wolves and Brentford. In fact, throw Rotherham into the mix and the Deepdale side failed to collect a single win from six meetings against the league’s best.
That record will need improvement but with League One looking weaker on paper and North End appearing to have strengthened in the off-season, Grayson’s men should be ready for a charge towards top spot.
Joe Garner’s goals will again be key as they bid to turn draws into wins (only Wolves suffered fewer defeats) and there’s added incentive to finish in the top two – in nine previous play-off appearances Preston have failed to win promotion. The 9/10 dangled on a top-six finish looks the best ‘almost cert’ of the ante-post season.
Meanwhile, the 11/4 on offer for a much-changed Gillingham side to break into the top-half holds plenty of appeal. Manager Peter Taylor oversaw the Kent club to 13 wins from his 35 games in charge to see the Gills ease to safety after Martin Allen’s dismissal.
The former England U21 coach has brought in a mixture of talented youth and League One experience to aid their battle, as well as holding onto their top players. Luke Norris will add an extra dimension to the Cody McDonald and Danny Kedwell attack and Ireland U21 international John Egan will steady the defence.
With the top five in the betting (Sheffield United, Bristol City, Preston, Leyton Orient and Peterborough) looking a cut above the rest, Gillingham look underrated in their bid for progression.
The relegation battle looks as fierce as ever with three-quarters of the league looking to avoid one of the four places in the trapdoor to League Two. Whilst Crewe look doomed from the off, Crawley deserve serious consideration at an appetising 4/1 to lose their third tier status.
A second successive mid-table finish was built upon a solid defence but John Gregory’s team lacked a cutting edge in attack, netting only 48 goals. Gregory has overseen a huge squad overhaul including seeing key players Adam Drury and Kyle McFadzean leave – should the new faces such as Jimmy Smith and Izale McLeod fail to gel quickly, the Red Devils may be playing catch-up.
Preston to finish in the top-six (9/10)
Gillingham to finish in the top-half (11/4)
Crawley to be relegated (4/1)