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League One Preview and Best Bets

Bolton vs Wycombe

Both Teams To Score 4/5

Wycombe got their season off to a flyer and Gareth Ainsworth’s men are the very early pacesetters in League One, winning 3-0 on the opening day at home to Burton Albion. They looked brilliant going forward and scored three goals in the first half hour, as The Brewers just couldn’t keep pace with them. Anid Mehmeti was a constant threat throughout the game including getting Wycombe’s second goal, central midfielder Josh Scowen also chipped in with a goal and an assist.

Bolton got their season off to a credible start with a 1-1 draw away at Ipswich Town, any team that can get a goal against Kieran McKenna’s formidable system has to be respected as an attacking force although in truth they didn’t create many chances from open play in that game. They should have plenty more opportunities to score against a Wycombe side that have been playing a more attacking brand of football over the last twelve months.

I think both teams showed enough in their first games of the season to suggest that they can both get on the scoresheet here. They possess the attacking talent, and the commitment to attacking football to ensure that the 4/5 available on both team to score represents excellent value. 

Exeter vs Port Vale

Under 1.5 goals 2/1

Port Vale got off to a winning start in their first League One game since 30th April 2017, that game was a 0-0 draw against Fleetwood Town, and they opened their campaign against the same opposition, overturning a one goal deficit to run out 2-1 winners. They were a huge threat from set pieces in that game, with both goals coming from corners. The first followed two pieces of outrageous skill from centre backs Connor Hall, who spun beautifully in the box to lose his marker before squaring to Nathan Smith who produced a back heeled finish. Callum Hall followed up his assist by getting on the scoresheet himself with a low finish. 

Exeter will provide a much sterner test; The Grecians were the fourth best team at defending set pieces last season so that route to goal won’t be as easy for Vale as it was against The Cod Army who conceded the fifth most set piece goals in the 2021/22 campaign. Exeter began their life in League One with a credible 1-1 draw away at Lincoln City, and they will be hoping to improve on that result against Port Vale.  

The two meetings between these teams last season produced just one goal, the season before saw only three goals scored. The teams know each other well after battling for promotion in the 2021/22 League Two campaign, a target that they both achieved, Exeter finishing in 2nd place and Port Vale getting promoted via the play-offs. I believe both of these teams are closely matched and we may see them cancel each other out again at St James’ Park on Saturday afternoon.

Fleetwood vs Plymouth

Plymouth To Win 11/10

Plymouth defeated recently relegated, and perennial League One promotion challengers Barnsley 1-0 on the opening day of the season. They were much the better side in that game, the xG statistics were 2.46 to 1.41. The Pilgrims defensive record under Schumacher has been incredible, they only conceded 48 goals in the entirety of last season, and I see no reason that won’t continue to be the case for the upcoming campaign.

On Saturday they face a Fleetwood Town side are currently 2nd favourites for relegation and lost their opening match to newly promoted Port Vale. All this in the context of The Cod Army scraping survival on goal difference last season, with a record low points total of just 40, well under a point per game. They will no doubt lose more games than they win yet again, and I believe it’ll be another for the loss column on Saturday. 

Plymouth have a far better squad than their opponents, and they are available at better than even money. In my opinion there is a large disparity between the teams at the top and bottom of League One and I don’t think this is reflected in the price here. For comparison, Peterborough are 1/2 to beat Morecambe albeit Posh are at home in that game. I don’t believe home advantage is enough of a reason for such a huge price discrepancy, so I’ll be backing Plymouth to win here.

Oxford vs Cambridge

Cambridge to score two or more goals 11/4

It’s the boat race derby this weekend and to celebrate this is a bit of a riskier pick than usual, but I think there’s a good logic behind it. Oxford conceded 59 goals last season, more than half the teams in League One. The Yellows also suffered an opening day defeat away at Derby County. It was a very poor performance, they looked extremely open and yet didn’t create any clear-cut opportunities, registering an xG of just 0.43. I believe Karl Robinson’s solution to this will be to go even more gung-ho than usual.

Cambridge might be the real deal this season, on the opening day they limited last season’s third best team to an xG of just 0.42 in their 1-0 win against MK Dons. They looked very dangerous in that game and could have scored more goals if their final ball had been better, this isn’t quite reflected in the xG stats, but the eye test suggested that a little more quality with the passing and crossing could have seen a couple more goals fly in.  Mark Bonner’s side have a great shape and are always dangerous on the counterattack, which is something that Oxford are vulnerable to, they conceded the most goals in the league from counter attacks last season.

By no means is this a sure thing but I think it’s a very generous price and one that’s worth taking on, Oxford won the corresponding fixture 4-2 back in April and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see a similar score line on Saturday. 

Shrewsbury vs Accrington

Accrington To Win 11/5

This is a price I just can’t understand, there’s no way Shrewsbury should be double the price of Accrington this weekend. The evidence just isn’t there. Last season Accrington finished 11 points ahead of Salop, the season before the gap was 13 points. This shows that Stanley have consistently been the better team and I think they should be priced up as such. I’m not sure where the bookies faith in Shrewsbury is coming from.

Last weekend Shrewsbury failed to break down a Morecambe team that are favourites for relegation. This is indicative of a team that scored just 47 goals in the entirety of the last campaign. I don’t believe they will find things easy against an Accrington side that conceded fewer goals than Morecambe last season, albeit only by eight goals. 

Accrington were very impressive in their 2-2 draw against Charlton on the opening day, dominating the game and registering an xG of 2.52 to their opponents 1.16. They will count themselves unlucky they were not able to take all three points. They are capable of scoring against most teams, and as evidenced by the 61 goals they bagged last season they can often score multiple goals, so the question becomes can Shrewsbury manage to muster a goal? Based on the evidence to hand I would suggest it’s possible they may get one, and very unlikely they get two.

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