Barrow boys look a bargain price
The battle for the National League title may be boiling down to a four-team race with leaders Lincoln, second-placed Tranmere, third-placed Forest Green and fifth-placed Barrow fighting to go up automatically.
Fourth-placed Dagenham & Redbridge are six points off leaders Lincoln having played one game more and are going through a sticky spell, having taken just four points from their last four matches.
The Daggers don’t appeal at the prices but Barrow are an interesting each-way option (with a third of the odds for a place in the top two) at 12-1.
Significant investment has been put into Barrow by owner Paul Casson and they have a manager in Paul Cox who knows what it takes to win the fifth tier.
Cox took Mansfield up as champions in 2013 and he is doing a fantastic job with Barrow, who are unbeaten in 25 games in all competitions.
The Bluebirds’ first target is to nail down a playoff spot but they are only seven points below leaders Lincoln having played one fewer game and still have to play all of their top five rivals at Holker Street, where they have taken 27 points from a possible 33 this season.
Lincoln, a 16-1 each-way selection before the start of the season, are the 7-4 market leaders and go into the festive period full of confidence after winning nine of their last ten league games.
A crowd of 6,335 watched their 2-1 victory at home to Tranmere on Saturday and there seems to be a growing belief that the Imps are about to end their six-season exile from the Sky Bet Football League.
Tranmere have more recent memories of league football (they were relegated in 2015) and are just two points off the top, having played a game more. Rovers – advised at pre-season odds of 15-2 – still have a great chance and have shortened to 3-1.
Forest Green led from early October to late November but haven’t won any of their last four games and need to return to winning ways when taking on Torquay twice over the holidays.
Dover are just a point outside the playoffs and their push for a top-five finish will depend on the performances and fitness of their star striker Ricky Miller.
The former Luton forward has netted 22 goals in 21 league appearances and is sure to attract the attention of clubs from a higher division. For the sake of punters who took the advice to back him to be top scorer at pre-season odds of 12-1, it is hoped he stays on the Kent coast.
Miller is 1-5 to finish as the division’s top marksman and is five goals clear of Barrow’s Byron Harrison, who looks to be his only serious challenger.
1pt each-way 12-1 Sky Bet
2pts e-w 16-1 general
1pt 15-2 Coral
Braintree to be relegated
2pts 8-1 188Bet
Maidstone to be relegated
2pts 9-4 Betfred, Betway, Hills
R Miller top scorer
1pt 12-1 Betfred, Betway, Hills
S Rendell top scorer
1pt e-w 25-1 Betway