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League Two: winners and losers

Frank Monkhouse | 5 August 2017

Who’ll go up and who’ll go down?

As you would expect, we have a wide-open betting market for the 2017/18 League Two season, as the division’s bigger names aim to battle their way up to the riches of League One, others desperate to avoid dropping into Non-League football.

Coral’s traders have had their say, but there’s no lack of value on offer at either end of the betting, if you can find the winners. Click here to have your say on the League Two champions, as well as promotion, relegation and handicap betting.

Stags to show their strength

Mansfield finished an uninspiring 12th in League Two last season, posting stats of 17 wins, 15 draws and 14 defeats. They must improve on that massively if they are to live up to the pre-season hype. Coral have The Stags priced as market leaders, currently doing the rounds at 5/1. Steve Evans has been working around the clock to strengthen his troops, having to move players out before he can bring new faces in. The recent arrivals are encouraging, Omari Sterling-James from Solihull Moors, goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik, Will Atkinson and Jacob Mellis, as well as many more. At last count they had brought in over 10 new players.

Nearest rivals for the top-step will be Luton at 13/2. The Hatters finished up in fourth last term, narrowly missing out on promotion through the play-offs. The lessons learned from that heartbreak will drive them on to another big season, if our thinking is correct, and they are another club who have rung the changes during the summer months. Footballers at this level become accustomed to short-term contracts, meaning every season is a chance to prove themselves, but the danger of falling out of the professional game is always there. Luton will fancy their chances of grabbing automatic promotion.

Have Carlisle learned their lesson?

If you like the chances of both Mansfield and Luton, you can play it safe and get on the promotion market, meaning your club of choice need to go up, but they don’t have to win the league for you to be paid out. The odds are shorter, as you would expect, Mansfield 6/5 and Luton at 6/4, but this also gives you the chance to take a plucky underdog who you think has a chance of throwing themselves into the mix for the prize places. Former big guns Coventry have as much work to do off the pitch as on it, after being relegated from League One, but they can’t be overlooked, and trade at 7/4 to be promoted, or 9/1 to win the league.

After more? Let’s not forget Carlisle’s great start to the season. They were the final team at this level to suffer defeat last season, and one of the last remaining unbeaten sides in British football. The Cumbrians fell apart down the home-straight, but if they can show the same form in the early part of this campaign, they’ve surely got to be fancied to improve. Our boys don’t see it, giving a chunky 4/1 on them being promoted and a whopping 16/1 on Keith Curle’s men going all the way to the winners’ medal.

Coventry’s plunge to continue?

At the opposite end of the rankings, who is your money on to be relegated? It’s another open market, and sides like Coventry really do have as much chance as winning the league as they do of finishing bottom. It’ll be a tough season for The Sky Blues, and they need real investment from the board to put a halt to their drop through the leagues. More misery for Coventry? There’s a cracking 33/1 on them being relegated. One for small stakes, perhaps.

Favourites to finish in the bottom-two are Morecambe and Crawley. Hartlepool and Leyton bit the dust in the spring, and there’s 15/8 on Morecambe playing Non-League football next term, or 3/1 on Crawley. One at a slightly better price that may be worth a second look is Newport at 4/1. County escaped the drop by just two points last time, and another tough year lies ahead. The 4/1 on Newport looks a better bet than 3/1 on Crawley.

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