Saturday’s National League Predictions and Best Bets

Andy

Barnet v Stockport County 

Tuesday 29th January – 3:00PM KO

Stockport County continue to pass every challenge that could be used as a stick to beat them with.  

First came the goals, Dave Challinor taking the handbrake off his side and watching them hit the back of the net with regularity. But they hadn’t really faced top opposition, nor were they keeping clean sheets at the other end. In their last five matches, they have conceded just once (while 4-0 up against Altrincham) and beat both Solihull Moors and Dagenham and Redbridge away from home. They also stopped Maidenhead United continuing their remarkable run against the sides at the top of the table.  

The Hatters, who have won each of their last six matches, now embark on a run of fixtures in which they play eight of the bottom half in their next 11, providing a great opportunity for them to pull away from their fellow promotion contenders and will see games against Barnet and Dover Athletic as a great opportunity to stay at the top before Chesterfield come to visit on February 8th.  

They have every reason to fancy their chances too. For starters, Stockport have a perfect record against sides in the bottom half of the table since Challinor took the reins and have won all seven away matches against sides 12th or lower in the table. Secondly, Barnet were forced to postpone their game on Friday due to a number of positive COVID cases meaning preparation will have been disrupted and the effects on the team unlikely to be known. Not to mention that they are four without victory going into this one.  

I’ve little doubt that Barnet will provide a tough test but Stockport are absolutely flying at the moment and there is little reason to believe that will stop just yet. 

Prediction: Stockport County to Win, 1.5 on Betfair (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)


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Boreham Wood v King’s Lynn Town 

Saturday 29th January – 3:00PM KO

Boreham Wood’s form provides lovely colour coordination on a results page: green, yellow, green, yellow etc.  

It’s been an awkward period for Luke Garrard to deal with. As a manager, he is similar to Sean Dyche in respect to generally having a preferred starting XI and trying to stick with it to build consistency on the pitch. That hasn’t been possible over the last couple of months with injuries, suspension and COVID forcing Garrard to make use of his squad, including some players playing in unorthodox positions. It’s why he was so delighted after Tuesday’s away victory at promotion rivals FC Halifax Town, calling his players “tremendous” and the game a “phenomenal away day”.  

Tommy Widdrington hasn’t been able to discuss his team in the same glowing terms since taking to the dugout at King’s Lynn Town. He’s arrived at an unfortunate time as far as the fixture list is concerned, victory against Dover Athletic being followed up by defeats against FC Halifax Town, Chesterfield, Notts County and a much-improved Southend United. Boreham Wood away won’t have been high on his list of preferred upcoming opponents. As if to drill the point home, The Linnetts have played 11 matches against sides in the top half and lost all 11.  

The Wood remain unbeaten at home, unbeaten against sides outside of the promotion picture, picked up a big three points in midweek and should come through Saturday with long overdue back-to-back wins. With the odds too short to bet on victory and them likely to win to nil thanks to their excellent defensive record (13 clean sheets in 22 matches), I’m backing BTTS – No.  

Prediction: Both Teams to Score – No, 1.65 on Betfair  (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)


Dover Athletic v Southend United 

Saturday 29th January – 3:00PM KO

Finally, after 24 winless league matches during which they picked up just four points, Dover Athletic won a football match on Tuesday, beating Eastleigh 1-0 at The Crabble.  

Andy Hessenthaler was understandably delighted and somewhat relieved, talking up how delighted his squad were after the game, in particular the young players that had not been able to experience a league victory, while admitting that he had been unsure whether that elusive victory would finally come. The immediate aim now will be to wipe off the remaining deducted points as quick as possible and get back into positive numbers.  

A couple of months ago, Dover may have fancied their chances of beating Southend United but the Blues are a different side under the stewardship of Kevin Maher. The Essex club are finally finding their feet again, picking up more points in their last seven matches than they had in their opening 15 thanks to the introduction of a clear identity and focus on younger and more technically proficient footballers. The signings of Leon Davis, Kacper Lopata, Harry Cardwell and Harrison Neal have helped while Kettering Town forward Callum Powell is expected to join before the weekend.  

Dover have endured an unbelievably tough campaign and it would be a lovely sight to see their players celebrate back-to-back victories but the reality is that they remain short, played an Eastleigh side low on stability and confidence while Southend are in fine fettle at the moment. An away victory is expected.  

Prediction: Southend to Win, 1.7 on Betfair (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)


Grimsby Town v Wealdstone

Saturday 29th January – 3:00PM KO

Paul Hurst looked like a defeated man when speaking after his side’s 1-0 defeat at Wrexham in midweek.  

Under intense questioning, he admitted to being unsure what more he could say about his side’s troubles. It is understandable. After a remarkable opening to the season, The Mariners tailed off badly, losing six of the next seven and looking in real bad shape as Hurst began chopping and changing personnel and shape in a bid to come across a winning formula. Post-Christmas, performances have improved and selection is more stable but the results aren’t following as Hurst and his team struggle to get past their mental block against the best sides in the division. They have played eight games against top nine opposition in their last 12 and picked up just one point from those matches.  

Their reprieves during this period have come at home against opposition further down the table and they will be banking another home victory when Wealdstone come to visit this weekend. The Stones have endured a similarly tough run but picked up a credible point against Notts County in midweek, showing real defensive resilience against a side in fantastic form of late. However, Stuart Maynard’s side have only beaten King’s Lynn Town and Dover Athletic on the road this season and have just one victory against sides 15th or higher in the league table – the reverse fixture against Grimsby Town. Meanwhile, Grimsby have won all seven home matches against opposition below them in the table.  

Saturday should provide a much-needed opportunity for Grimsby to take off the shackles and attack with some freedom.  

Prediction: Grimsby to Win, 1.4 on Betfair (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)


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Solihull Moors v Altrincham 

Saturday 29th January – 3:00PM KO

Once again, we have to talk about Solihull Moors’ record against sides below them in the league table.  

Since losing against Weymouth on matchday three, Neal Ardley’s side have played 14 matches against teams 10th or lower in the league table and conceded just three goals, winning ten. While their 5-0 victory against Dover Athletic on Saturday was expected, an away victory against an improving Torquay United side, thanks to late goals from Kyle Hudlin and Andrew Dallas, showed the strength of the West Midlands outfit. Experienced centre-back Mark Ellis made his debut in their midweek victory which allowed Lois Maynard to return to his preferred central midfield position, as if their defence needed further improvement.  

Altrincham, meanwhile, are really struggling to play their way back into form – they have now won one of their last 16 matches and none of their last ten. Most alarming is their defensive record – Altrincham have conceded at least two goals in eight of their last ten matches and have not kept a clean sheet since a 2-0 victory against Maidenhead United in early October. The club have attempted to resolve long-standing issues at left-back and central midfield with the signings of Kevin Berkoe and Elliot Osborne while Jamie Morgan has replaced the excellent Joel Senior at right-back but the changes have not led to defensive improvement yet.  

With Solihull Moors so strong defensively and Altrincham showing few signs of an identity, it’s hard not to side with the hosts here.  

Prediction: Solihull to Win, 1.75 on Betfair (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)


Wrexham v Maidenhead United 

Saturday 29th January – 3:00PM KO

Few things summed up the National League than Maidenhead United’s famous 3-2 victory against Wrexham earlier in the season with Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney watching on from the stands at the famous York Road stadium.  

Expecting a repeat result this time round feels somewhat farfetched, even in spite of The Magpies’ incredible record against the better sides in the division. After victories against Chesterfield and FC Halifax Town, Alan Devonshire’s side were brought back down to Earth on Tuesday with a 3-0 defeat at now league leaders Stockport County, the part-time outfit finally running out of steam in the second half.  

It doesn’t get easier for them with a visit to Wrexham this Saturday. As if to showcase the difference between the two clubs, Phil Parkinson’s side beat Grimsby Town 1-0 at The Racecourse last time out thanks to a goal from Ollie Palmer, who was signed for a reported 300k this week. The Welsh club have found goals difficult to come by at home but have been solid on the whole, losing just once (v Yeovil Town) and conceding just five goals in their ten home matches. The visitors, meanwhile, have one victory from 11 on their travels, and that came on the opening day at FC Halifax Town.  

It’s unlikely to be pretty but with Palmer and Mullin starting up front and Callum McFadzean having just signed to provide balance on the left-hand side, Wrexham should be in a good place to pick up another three points as they continue to climb the table.  

Prediction: Wrexham (-1), 2.0 on Betfair (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

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