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Friday, 14 December, 2018

Maidenhead unlikely to face much resistance from Gateshead

Sutton set for opening day success at Harrogate

York Road, home of Maidenhead United
1 of 1

National League
3pm Saturday

Maidenhead surpassed expectations with a 12th-place finish in the National League last season and look solid favourites to make a winning start to 2018-19 by beating Gateshead at York Road.

Last season was all about consolidation for Maidenhead, who had won promotion from the National League South the previous campaign.

They survived with ease, finishing 16 points clear of the drop zone, and will be looking to go even higher under Alan Devonshire, who is a highly respected non-league manager.

Maidenhead have had to absorb the departures of key midfielders Harry Pritchard and Sam Barratt to Blackpool and Southend but they have also made some eye-catching signings.

Centre-forward Ryan Bird was acquired from fifth-tier rivals Dover, having scored 16 league goals last season, and 22-year-old James Akintunde has been snapped up from Chester after notching nine league goals in the National League North.

There appear to be plenty of goals in the side and Maidenhead may not face much resistance from Gateshead, who have had a turbulent summer.

Several of Gateshead's players moved on after the club switched from full-time to part-time status.

The club's finances are looking healthier following a recent takeover but a lot of players will need to come in if Gateshead are going to have a good chance of staying up.

Manager Steve Watson has stayed but his preparation for the new campaign has been far from ideal and Gateshead could be a team to oppose until their new-look squad have had a chance to settle down.

Newly-promoted Harrogate are likely to be competitive this season but their opening match at home to Sutton is a tough one.

There is a big gap between fifth and sixth levels of English football and Sutton showed themselves to be one of the strongest National League teams by finishing third last term.

Their squad does not look any weaker and they look value to start off with an away win.

3pts 21-20 Hills, Sky Bet
Sutton United
1pt 7-4 bet365

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Several of Gateshead's players moved on after the club switched from full-time to part-time status
E.W. Terms
Sky bet