The Sky Bet League One season gets up and running on Saturday with the 24 teams all looking for that opening day victory to get their campaign off to a perfect start. All eyes will be on Sunderland to see how they adjust to life in the third tier.
As luck would have it their match is on TV to kick things off before the rest of the division gets going later in the afternoon as every side takes to the pitch on a busy Saturday in our new division for this season.
Saturday’s fixtures are as follows: (3pm unless stated)
Sunderland v Charlton Athletic (12.30)
Accrington Stanley v Gillingham
Barnsley v Oxford United
Burton Albion v Rochdale
Coventry City v Scunthorpe United
Fleetwood Town v AFC Wimbledon
Peterborough United v Bristol Rovers
Portsmouth v Luton Town
Shrewsbury Town v Bradford City
Southend United v Doncaster Rovers
Walsall v Plymouth Argyle
Wycombe Wanderers v Blackpool
When you look at the odds to win the title two matches leap off the page here. The big one is from the Stadium of Light where Sunderland host Charlton Athletic in a battle of the title favourites against the side third in the betting with both teams aiming for promotion this term. The other one that catches the eye are fourth favourites Portsmouth hosting the side one below them in the betting in Luton Town. Relegated sides Barnsley and Burton Albion are both at home to Oxford United and Rochdale respectively.
Best of the Rest
Accrington Stanley begin their first campaign in the third tier at home to Gillingham while the other two promoted sides – Wycombe Wanderers and Coventry City – host Blackpool and Scunthorpe United respectively. Shrewsbury Town meet Bradford in a battle of sides who know what defeat in the play-offs feels like in recent times while Joey Barton begins his managerial career when his Fleetwood Town side host relegation favourites AFC Wimbledon.
I’ll go with two to open up the season with. I was going to go with my ante-post picks Burton but they have a few injuries so we can leave them alone this week. Sunderland are my first bet. Everywhere I’ve done League One previews so far I’ve mentioned how I expect them to have no problems bouncing back at the first time of asking and a TV match against injury ridden Charlton looks like a good place to start. Lee Bowyer has suggested his problems are that bad that it will be academy players filling the bench which isn’t ideal at this stage of the season. Sunderland will be without Charlie Wyke and one or two others but they knew he would be out when he signed. I still think they’ll have too much and with renewed optimism at the Stadium of Light after the takeover in the summer a winning start will be the perfect boost. I think they’ll get it.
I’m expecting Southend United to go well this season, especially at Roots Hall which is one of the toughest places in the country to go and get a result. I’m not expecting Doncaster Rovers to get anything from there. Grant McCann has followed Darren Ferguson for the second time in his career and for the second time he takes over a side with doubts about it. Budget restrictions were believed to be the reason why Fergie waved goodbye to the Keepmoat and a weak looking squad may well fail to land a blow on a younger and extremely talented Southend side.
WON – Back Sunderland to beat Charlton Athletic for a 4/10 stake at 1.95 with BetVictor
Back Southend United (-0.25AH) to beat Doncaster Rovers for a 4/10 stake at 1.95 with Betfred