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Rich 1st Aug 2013 - 10:00

Portsmouth face tough run to League Two promotion - Betting Preview

With the new season upon us, the twenty-four clubs in England's fourth tier are preparing for a tough, hard-fought campaign, bound to feature a range of ups and downs, spectacular goals and horrendous gaffes, but come May, four will have earned promotion, whilst two will face the dreaded drop into the non-league.

After an arduous season saw Scunthorpe, Portsmouth, Hartlepool, and Bury drop out of League One, they will all face the difficult task of bouncing back at the first time of asking. Pompey, who started a Premier League campaign only four years ago, will be out to not only gain promotion but pit their much storied financial troubles behind them once and for all.

At 4/1, Portsmouth are favourites to claim the League Two crown, but with a huge host of squad changes, it may be difficult for Guy Whittingham to the top of a division that always proves difficult to win. Perhaps a more sensible bet is Portsmouth to be promoted at 5/6.

Hartlepool have a history of yo-yoing between the third and fourth divisions, and find themselves at 5/1 to be promoted, whilst in a special market released by the Home of Betting, you can get 11/2 for them to finish higher than the other relegated clubs. When Peter Hartley and James Poole scored in a win for their team last week, they hit the headlines, but with the latter expected to lead the Pools' line, he may be great value at 80/1.

With four teams securing the right to play in League One next season, it should be no surprise to find a crowded promotion market, but there is definitely some value in Cheltenham at 4/1, whilst Mansfield will look to emulate Crawley Town in earning successive promotions (9/2).

A success story of last season was Plymouth Argyle. The Janners overcame a barrage of issues, ranging from financial problems to managerial changes, as well as some dreadful performances. Yet, they managed to avoid the drop, and at 9/1 to be relegated, it seems as though William Hill don't fancy them to be slumming it away in the non-league next season.

AFC Wimbledon's short yet storied history managed another great tale last season, with the Dons surviving late in a dramatic chase for survival. Chipping in with 15 goals throughout the season, it is easy to claim that Jack Midsom was vital to their safety, and if they are to climb the standings this year, it may, once again, be on his coattails. As such the poacher is priced at a tasty 25/1 to grab the prestige of League Two Golden Boot.

Should he fail to find the back of the net, it will likely to be to the detriment of AFC Wimbledon, and at 5/1, the Home of Betting doesn't envisage a year of raucous highs at Kingsmeadow. Of course, with only a pair of teams facing the dreaded drop, they may have to outdo both Accrington Stanley and Dagenham & Redbridge in order to be relegated. At 4/1, Stanley and the Daggers are second favourites to go down, whilst Morecambe look in even worse shape at 10/3. If you fear for Morecambe's safety, then value can be found at 7/1 in them finishing bottom.

Top Tip: League Two Season Handicap: Northampton +11 - 18/1

Worth a Look: Top Devon Club: Plymouth Argyle - 13/8



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