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Monday, 17 December, 2018

Luton should make a winning start

Best bets from around the EFL

Luton celebrate a goal
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Luton v Yeovil
Luton are the second favourites for Sky Bet League Two title and should get off to a winning start against Yeovil at Kenilworth Road.

Too many draws were partly responsible for Luton's faile promotion bid last season.

They shared the points in 17 of their 46 games and finished fourth, eight points adrift of the automatic promotion places.

There were occasions when the Hatters lacked that extra spark to finish off opponents and they lost a match-winning player when attacking midfielder Cameron McGeehan sustained a broken leg midway through the season.

McGeehan didn't play for the rest of the campaign and has moved up to the Sky Bet Championship after clinching a move to Barnsley.

But Luton should not be short of firepower because they have swooped for striker James Collins from Crawley.

Collins scored 20 league goals in a struggling side last season and his likely partnership with Danny Hylton – Luton's top scorer with 21 goals in 39 games – could be the most potent in the division.

Hylton has been troubled be a leg injury in pre-season and will not return to training until next week but Luton have good options in attack with pacy forward Isaac Vassell and summer signing Elliott Lee (acquired from Barnsley) competing to play alongside Collins.

Yeovil are going to be severely tested and they don't look ready.

Glovers' manager Darren Way has used a variety of defenders in pre-season but has a couple of big holes to fill after the retirement of centre-back Darren Ward and the departure of right-back Liam Sheppard, who had been on loan from Swansea.

Another Swansea loanee, centre-back Keston Davies, has joined but he faces a tough league debut against a physical Luton attack.

Yeovil also look short of quality in attack and were in freefall towards the end of last season, winning two of their last 18 games.

They look strong candidates for relegation and are well worth opposing in Bedfordshire.

4pts 8-13 general

Wycombe v Lincoln
Promoted teams are usually full of optimism at the start of the season and the feelgood factor should help Lincoln as they do battle with Wycombe in Buckinghamshire.

The match is a massive occasion for the Imps, who were last in the Football League in 2011 but their players showed an aptitude for the big games last season as they reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

Their extraordinary cup run featured wins over higher division sides Oldham, Ipswich, Brighton and Burnley and it brought in significant funds, allowing them to be competitive in the market this summer.

Lincoln manager Danny Cowley has significantly strengthened the squad but the standout move was to secure Peterborough's Michael Bostwick, who can play in central defence or midfield.

Renowned as a leader and a consistent performer, Bostwick was established as one of the fan favourites at London Road and his decision to step down a division was a major surprise.

His signing shows that Lincoln are looking to do far more than consolidate in the fourth tier.

Promotion is on their agenda and will also be on the minds of Wycombe after they finished just one point outside of the playoffs last season.

But Wycombe look weaker at the back after Aaron Pierre's departure to Northampton and have a fitness doubt over key attacker Scott Kashket.

The Chairboys favour a direct style of football and will look to get the ball into big front man Adebayo Akinfenwa at every opportunity.

But Lincoln's defence - led by highly rated centre-back Sean Raggett – should cope, and Cowley's side can do enough at the other end to pinch the three points.

Lincoln draw no bet
2pts 11-10 Betfair, Betfred, Paddy Power

Sheffield United v Brentford
Sheffield United sailed to the Sky Bet League One title last season – finishing 14 points above second-placed Bolton – but they face a big jump in class and could be dealt an immediate reality check by Brentford at Bramall Lane.

Ideally Brentford might have preferred to avoid playing a promoted team first but they are good enough and experienced enough to cope with the noisy atmosphere awaiting them.

The Bees are well established as a strong second-tier side, having posted three successive top-ten finishes.

Their squad looks better than last season's and they might be one of the surprise contenders for a playoff place.

Over the longer term Sheffield United will be looking to push for Premier League football but they do not look ready to achieve the goal this season.

The Blades' minimum requirement is to re-establish themselves in the division and they should accomplish that.

However, they go into the first game weakened by injuries to strikers James Hanson and Ched Evans and might struggle to cope with a slick, talented Brentford side.

Brentford draw no bet
1pt 6-4 Betfair, Hills, Paddy Power

Chesterfield v Grimsby
Grimsby did a sound job of consolidating in Sky Bet League Two last season and they can start 2017-18 on a positive note by avoiding defeat at Chesterfield.

A large travelling support will be behind the Mariners, who have sold more than 2,000 tickets.

Support alone won't guarantee a good result but it will give an extra push to a side who did well in pre-season, winning at home to Barnsley (2-1) and drawing with Wigan (1-1).

Chesterfield were relegated from Sky Bet League One with a whimper and return to the basement with a revamped squad.

However, it will take a while for the new faces to settle and Chesterfield may be a team worth opposing in the early stages of the campaign.

Grimsby or draw double chance
1pt 8-11 bet365

The Bees are well established as a strong second-tier side, having posted three successive top-ten finishes
E.W. Terms
Sky bet