League Two is without a clear favourite this season with the majority of bookmakers struggling to separate the leading four contenders – Portsmouth, Bury, Luton and Shrewsbury – with prices varying from 6/1 to 11/1.
We do know that over the past 10 seasons the average price of the League Two winner is 14/1 with the mean odds of a top-three finisher around the 18/1 mark. We also know that in eight of the past 10 seasons, the League Two favourite has finished in the top three. In fact, Gillingham in 2010/11 are the only market-leader to finish outside the top seven in the past 11 renewals.
But with so little separating the leaders, it’s probably best to look elsewhere if we’re looking to collect a few quid in April from our ante-post selections. Plymouth may have lost their influential captain Conor Hourihane to Barnsley but you get the feeling John Sheridan is ready to take his Argyle side to the next level.
League 2 ante post – The 3 best bets
A feel-good factor is returning to Home Park and last season’s top scorer Reuben Reid has returned with Deane Smalley also arriving to link up with his old boss. A poor run-in resulting in just one win from their final nine games curtailed any chance of a play-off place but Sheridan has also managed to bring in proven League One experience with Kelvin Mellor, Peter Hartley, Carl McHugh and Lee Cox and suddenly the play-offs looks very achievable. Plymouth are 15/8 to finish in the top seven. (Best odds – Click here for Bet Victor & a £25 free bet)
Northampton began 2013/14 as promotional hopefuls but only escaped relegation on the final day of the season despite possessing one of the league’s biggest budgets. Boss Chris Wilder will demand a big improvement from his squad in his first full season in charge but there are positive signs as the Cobblers signed off with just three defeats from 15.
Wilder has pulled off a coup in keeping Marc Richards at this level, signing the striker from promoted Chesterfield and also bagged John Joe O’Toole – the midfielder hit 15 goals as Bristol Rovers were relegated. Emile Sinclair has joined permanently and Kaido Mohammed is a threat out wide.
Considering the improvements made under the former Oxford manager, Northampton look a solid bet at 10/11 to finish in the top-half of League Two this season. (Best odds – Click here for Sky Bet + a £30 free bet)
Things don’t look quite so rosy for beleaguered Exeter. With only two sides suffering relegation from League Two, picking a side to go down can often be tough. But the Grecians look handy 6/1 prospects to lose their Football League status.
A transfer embargo after a PFA loan has seen Paul Tisdale’s hands tied as he enters his ninth year in charge. The likes of Alan Gow, John O’Flynn and Sam Parkin have all been forced to move on, captain Danny Coles was embroiled in a social media controversy and the club will be forced to rely on an inexperienced crop of youngsters in their fight for survival.
Exeter finished only five points above the relegation zone last season and will need to improve a wretched record at St James’ Park – winning only six league games in front of their home fans. Ultimately the 11/2 looks too good to miss out on. (Best odds – Click here for Betfair with a £50 free bet)
League 2 best bets:
Plymouth to finish in the top seven (15/8)
Northampton to finish in the top-half (10/11)
Exeter to be relegated (11/2)