Here are my notes prepared with love and attention and sent out this morning, all four selections won, all with a degree of comfort.
Brentford 2-0, Southend 1-0, Aldershot 2-1 and the Reading game finished 2-2. All of you who took part in the seven day trial, were well aware of my thoughts about Brentford and Aldershot several weeks ago and I hope that some of you took advantage.
Saturday August 6th .... notes sent at 09.18 this morning ...
We already have the Brentford selection ( reproduced at the foot of the email) and I have three other matches to discuss.
In the Championship, two of the potential big players Reading and Millwall ,meet at the Madejski Stadium , I saw both of these play a couple of times last season, including the reverse fixture which was the most open 0-0 draw I have ever seen. It is no exaggeration to say that 4-4 would have been a truer reflection of the game and the two teams went end to end and toe to toe for 90 minutes, both keepers were in inspired form and I lost count of the number of times they saved "one on one's". We made use of this with an "over" bet in the return game, which ended 2-1 to the Royals, all those goals came well inside the first hour and this was another match which could have produced far more.
Hosts were very unlucky not to have made it to the promised land of the EPL and whilst they may suffer something of a hangover from that, early signs , at least in pre season, is that they have already put that behind them. They managed to make the signing of Mikele Leigertwood permanent, what was absolutely vital, as they are a much better team when he plays, MUCH better, he picked up a knock in the last pre season game, but I saw him at the training ground yesterday and am pretty sure he will play. Shane Long is still at the club, at least for for the time being. Millwall finally sold Steve Morison, but have some promising young strikers and also signed the experienced Darius Henderson to replace him, Henderson is a former Royal and always plays well against them, scoring twice for Sheffield United last season against his first league club.With Reading having lost commanding central defender Matt Mills and experienced replacement Ivar Ingimarsson, they might struggle to contain the big front man and this is a match which looks likely to produce goal scoring chances aplenty once again. "
Over" 2.5 goals 2.04 + asian line.
Other two games are in Division 2. Let's start with Bradford City - Aldershot Town, which will not surprise too many of you. I wrote this about Shots in pre season ....
It is a completely different story at Aldershot, don't get me wrong, they are not exactly flush with funds, but boss Dean Holdsworth who made a very promising start to life as a coach at Newport County, is ultra professional in his approach. He had half a season to find out what was working and what was not at the Recreation Ground and has had the off season to get his own men in, including a very high level( by League 2 standards) backroom team. Deano, who was a hero at Brentford in a former life, is very thorough and keen to make a fast start to this campaign. So those of you that are only with me short term, please make a note of that. Not only were the Shots one of the first teams back training, but the entire squad trained at some time through the summer four or five at a time, this means they are very fit and advanced in preparation.
This was very clear at the weekend when they travelled to Farnborough Town, one of the better BSS teams last season who narrowly missed out on promotion and could easily have swapped places with Tamworth. Shots got better and better as the game progressed and ran out 4-0 winners, with newcomers Michael Rankine and especially Bradley Bubb who is lightning quick and scored 40 goals in 88 starts in the BSS impressing. The difference between how these two clubs have started their preseason is further highlighted by the fact that one of the Tamworth players missed the first week of training as he was still on holiday ! Holdsworth would never have stood for that. hard to see anything other than another away win, with Shots fitness advantage surely telling after the break if not before.
Holdsworth has got his team primed for the campaign , they completed a very productive pre season and travel north in great heart. He added two players to the squad last week with the addition of Anthony Pulis and George Montgomery, both of whom will help bring along the youngsters/ less experienced players at the club. Montgomery was part of the Dagenham & Redbridge promotion winning side of two seasons ago and his silky left foot will be a welcome addition.
City are a sleeping giant at this level, but are set to slumber a little longer, with Peter Jackson having a very big job to turn them around. He has started the process, by bringing whole host of new players in, but almost none have experience of this division, this is a work in progress and City a team in transition. Aldershot +0.25 1.90 is my pick.
Going to finish with some brief notes about Southend United- Hereford United. Paul Sturrock inherited a shocking position at Roots Hall last season, a financial mess and no players ! He signed 17 players inside 24 hours as the season started and his team progressed and evolved through the year, thumped a few good teams, finished mid table and even looked like they might challenge for the playoffs at one stage. There is a terrific team spirit here and Sturrock has enjoyed a far less frantic build up to this season, he has kept Barry Corr with 18 goals in 32 games and added the prolific Neil Harris from Millwall , Jemal Johnson and also Liam Dickinson who scored plenty at this level for Stockport County, before never quite making it at the higher level, he is very pacey and that can serve you well at this level. They are potentially a team with a lot of goals in them, they have yet to click goals wise in pre season, but did play some quality sides and defensively looked really solid, only conceding one in two games against big Championship player Ipswich Town and EPL side Norwich.
Hereford look set to struggle this year, they are going to have to get involved in the loan market, which is their modus operandi and having ended last season poorly, jwith ust two wins in 13 and lacking quality, I have to look to oppose them. They were very good on the road last season, but lost 4-0 here and 3-1 to United in the reverse fixture and it is hard to argue that Southend are now stronger and the Bulls weaker.
Southend -0.5 1.83 + ... there is a little 1.91 in places.
Written August 3
Going to start my look at the weekend matches by posting a selection for the Brentford- Yeovil Town game. Obviously I have well and truly shown my hand here and we have already taken the up to 34.0 to win Division 1 about the Bees ( now a top 17.0) and especially the 9.0 for promotion ( now circa 5.0), so you know which way I am going with this, but I don't expect this quote to be available come the weekend and suggest we get on now.
Let's start with the visitors, they have a small squad and I know that boss Terry Skiverton is anxious to add 2-3 more names as soon as possible. Town have had a reasonable pre season, but have been over run a little in midfield at times and have a weakness in central defence. I saw the match at Griffin Park between these two in the second half of last season, Town won 2-1, but the Glovers were fortunate to leave London without being arrested for daylight robbery, somehow contriving a way ( two goals on two breakaways) to win a match the Bees dominated.
You all know how I feel about Brentford this season and there is no point in my repeating everything again, but Uwe Rosler has assembled/inherited a very strong squad and the tactically aware German can ( potentially) change 6-7 players without really weakening the starting eleven.
Off the pitch the club is now run in an ultra professional manner, more along the lines of a top Championship club, with a lot of investment in getting things right both on and off the pitch. A large crowd ( by normal standards) is expected on saturday and is likely to be boosted by a number of Manchester City supporters. Rosler was a hero in his time with City and with them in town for the Charity Shield game with United, he has called for those fans in the capital for the weekend to come along. The Bees have sold their most season tickets in many years and drawn record crowds to G.P for pre season games, something big is happening in TW8 and Rosler, his backroom staff, team and even supporters are all fully focused on getting the juggernaut up and running.
They have a real touch of class in midfield and should again dominate Yeovil in the centre of the park, up front established strikers MacDonald and Alexander have been scoring for fun in pre season, but only one will start with Clayton Donaldson ( 28 goals for Crewe last season) booked for one of the starting places and if that will not keep the front men on their toes, another quality striker is set to join shortly. The defence has looked roack solid and only conceded one goal from open play and kept clean sheets against EPL side Stoke city ( full strength) and Championship playoff hopefuls Watford.
They ended pre season at an inform and fit Alderhot Town last week and dominated early proceedings, they then fell behind for the first time under Rosler and that is what I wanted to see,how they would react after such a magic start to the season where everything has gone perfectly, there was no panic and to be honest the Bees ran out very easy winners, the 2-1 scoreline doesn't tell the full story, it was very impressive. No weaknesses for the hosts and the only negative is that Town have been a bit of a bogey team for the Bees in recent seasons, but hey, this is a very different Brentford team.
1.5 units Brentford -0.5 1.89..... aargh !! This has shortened to 1.83 as I type, so will have to downscale this slightly 1.25 units .... very annoying !.