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English National League Preview and Best Bets

english national league

Barnet v Woking

Woking draw no bet – 10/11 (1.91)

Not sure many people would have had Dean Brennan’s Barnet as topping the table after 3 games, but that is where they are after wins against Bromley and Yeovil and a draw at Gateshead in between the two victories.

However, when we look at the stats, I think they are overachieving at the moment.

Halifax were awful against them in the opening day of the season only having an xG of 0.13 although Barnet’s was just 0.81 albeit they scored twice.

They have scored twice in all 3 games so far and against Gateshead they had their highest xG of the season with 1.34. They did only have 5 shots during the game and Gateshead managed a higher xG.

Then against Yeovil on Tuesday night they only had an xG of 0.88 and had just 7 shots. They have the finishing of Nicke Kabamba to thank as he scored both goals and his chip over the keeper for his 2nd was sublime. Yeovil really should have beaten them though as their xG was 1.72 and they created some great chances.

Clearly Barnet have been very clinical so far, but that won’t last, and I think Woking have got a huge chance of beating them here. I was confident they would beat Scunthorpe on Tuesday and they easily won 2-0. They had a massive 22 shots during the game and had an xG of 1.9. Kyran Lofthouse got both goals and his finish for the 2nd was great from a narrow angle.

The one slight concern is that they were so bad in their opening game of the season at York and this is their first away game since, but it would be harsh to judge from a sample of one especially as it was the first game of the campaign. Woking have already been well backed, but there is still value in backing them in the draw no bet market.

Dorking v Gateshead

Over 2.5 goals – 8/11 (1.73)

3 games for Dorking and every game has not only been over 2.5 goals, but they have been over 3.5 goals!

It was 4 in the opening game against Chesterfield and then 5 on the TV last Saturday against Oldham. On Tuesday night they made it 6 goals in a 4-2 victory over Maidstone. Not surprisingly we saw two big xG’s with them having 2.81 and 2.82 from 19 and 22 shots respectively. If they want to follow the pattern then this game should have 7 goals on Saturday although I will settle for there just being over 2.5 again.

I did mention on Tuesday night that I would be repeating myself a lot when it comes to Dorking games, but I really do feel like we are going to win plenty by backing their games to be over 2.5 every week.

Crucially as well the bookies don’t really seem to have caught on yet. Gateshead did well to get a point against Notts County on Tuesday night and not surprisingly they weren’t as attacking as they had been in their other two games against Barnet and Dagenham & Redbridge which both ended in 2-2 draws.

We have two teams capable of goals, but also capable of conceding goals if this game doesn’t have over 2.5 goals we will have been very unfortunate.

Notts County v Chesterfield

Chesterfield draw no bet – 5/4 (2.25)

This is the live game on Saturday tea-time, and it should be a cracker given we have two sides who ought to be in the play-offs at the very least come April.

County have dominated possession in all 3 games they have played so far having recorded 74%. 75% and 69%. The problem is that possession hasn’t been turned into victories and their lowest xG has come in their one victory so far against Maidenhead.

Macaulay Langstaff scored two good goals against Maidenhead, but he hasn’t looked quite as threatening in the other two games and I do wonder if he is going to be the main striker that they are looking for.

Chesterfield didn’t need Tshimanga on Tuesday night as he stayed on the bench, but they didn’t need to risk him given they had a very comfortable 2-0 victory over Wrexham.

I will talk more about how bad Wrexham were in the preview on their game, but Chesterfield had little problem in beating them recording a huge 21 shots for an xG of 1.76.

Last season I thought Paul Cook looked clueless when he came in as Chesterfield manager, but the evidence on the first 3 games of the season is that he has learnt from last season and he could well be the man to take them back into the Football League.

I think they can get something out of this game and the bookies don’t have them as close as they should be in the betting. The price for an away side draw no bet is most appealing.

Torquay v Boreham Wood

Boreham Wood/draw double chance – 4/6 (1.67)

I’m really surprised by how bad Torquay have been so far this season. I really like Gary Johnson as a manager at this level. He has won the league twice and finished 2nd with Torquay 2 seasons back, last season they suffered from the play-off loss being so close to the start of the season and they improved as the season went on.

Granted they lost some key players over the summer; I trusted Johnson to get the right players in. The evidence so far is that apart from the goalkeeper Mark Halstead that he might not have done.

Halstead’s xCG is 5.48 so far this season and yet he has conceded just 1 goal. That goal came against Bromley on Tuesday night and it was a wonder strike which no keeper would have saved. The problem is he isn’t always going to save them and the xG’s against them really does tell a story.

Against Oldham it was 1.81, against Halifax it was 3.31 and Bromley even topped that at a huge 4.46!

Torquay’s xG’s have been 0.84, 0.33 and 0.36. The fact they beat Halifax last Saturday will be one of the most fortunate victories we will see this season as Halifax dominated them.

I put Boreham Wood up to beat Aldershot on Tuesday and was very surprised they lost to them 2-1, but they will consider themselves unlucky as Aldershot’s xG was only 0.79 and they only had 3 shots on target. Wood’s xG was 1.83 and they had 19 shots.

For me they are a better side than Torquay and the odds don’t reflect that at all although I think given Halstead’s form so far this season it makes sense to have the draw onside as well.

Wealdstone v Halifax

Wealdstone/draw double chance – 8/11 (1.73)

It’s been a very mixed bag from Wealdstone this season as they have been really good twice when beating Bromley and Oldham, but they were awful when losing 1-0 in between to Eastleigh.

An xG in that game of 0.03 tells you all you need to know about how well they played. They were good on the opening day of the season though winning 3-2 and then they did really well to win at Oldham on Tuesday night.

The move for the 2nd goal could well end up as the best team goal we see all season in the National League. There was a huge 23 passes leading up to the goal and it is very unusual to see that sort of thing at this level even from the sides who like to pass the ball around.

I thought they made some decent signings in the summer and they certainly have their strongest looking squad since getting promoted.

Halifax obviously had that really high xG against Torquay, but I have a feeling that is more down to how bad Torquay are rather than how good Halifax are.

They created very little against Barnet on the opening day and then on Tuesday night their main chance came from the Southend keeper giving the ball away so it wasn’t even something they created. It was a game where both teams seemed to cancel each other out as there was little goalmouth action with Southend’s only decent chance coming from the penalty spot.

Halifax are strong favourites for the game and I just don’t think they should be so I will take the home side in the double chance market.

Wrexham v Maidstone

Maidstone +2 Handicap – 4/5 (1.8)

Phil Parkinson is under huge pressure now and I think if Wrexham don’t win this game then he might well be sacked. After Tuesday night’s effort against Chesterfield the fans on Twitter were pretty unanimous about wanting him out and I totally agree with them.

Based on their 3 performances so far this season it is clear to me that they won’t win the league whilst he is still in charge. I even think he might have lost the dressing room given how poor they were against Yeovil and Chesterfield.

Yeovil you could possibly forgive a little given how hot it was, but the effort on Tuesday was unforgivable given you are playing against one of your possible title rivals.

They managed 7 shots, but all bar two of those were blocked and their xG was just 0.2! This is coming from a team who have Paul Mullin and Ollie Palmer in their side.

They are clearly very short for this game and in truth they should win it given how superior their side is, but if it doesn’t start going their way then the fans are going to get on the players backs quickly and the pressure will be huge.

Maidstone lost out in that high scoring game with Dorking on Tuesday night, but that could have gone either way and they did well in their first two games against York and Altrincham.

Clearly this is a very different contest to those 3 matches and in theory they should lose, but I think at the very least they can keep it to within a goal defeat given how Wrexham are playing at the moment so will back them on the handicap with a 2-goal head start.

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