Forget Manchester City attaining 100 Premier League points and Liverpool reaching the Champions League Final: the most inspiring footballing story in the north-west in 2018 has to be the rise of Accrington Stanley.

With reportedly League Two’s second-lowest budget last season, John Coleman’s side stormed to the title last season thanks to a return of 17 wins from a 20-game post-Christmas sequence.

Many, perhaps understandably, expected the relegation favourites to struggle in League One, but this was based more on the size of the club than what had happened in the summer.

They had only lost three first teamers: goalkeeper Aaron Chapman went to Peterborough, centre-back Jimmy Dunne’s loan deal from Burnley expired and Kayden Jackson moved to Ipswich.

All three players have since been replaced well. Connor Ripley and Jonny Maxted are two able goalkeepers, with the latter filling in with the former suspended in the 1-0 win at Peterborough last time out.

Michael Ihiekwe, who competed at the top of this division with Rotherham last season, has proved an excellent defensive partner for the influential Mark Hughes.

Offrande Zanzala, who re-joined on loan from Derby, had to be incredibly patient last term due to Jackson’s form, but this year he is effectively a like-for-like replacement; Zanzala’s pace and willingness to chase lost causes compliments Billy Kee’s hold-up play and goalscoring nous.

There is reason to think, therefore, that Stanley are underrated at Luton; they are 6/5 to avoid defeat via the +1 handicap option.

Those odds suggest they have a 46 winning, something they have done in all bar two (86{2145621b26fc9aaf9f712205cef9de9b6b89ae8741f566ab7f58c50f0e39ac2a}) of their 14 League One encounters.

That’s not to say Luton aren’t also an impressive outfit: the Hatters deservedly beat Walsall 2-0 on Saturday to complete a third league victory in four.

The Hatters could, however, be without Dan Potts due to a groin injury. The attacking left-back has been crucial to providing width in all three thirds and it is likely that, in his absence, Nathan Jones will have to play start the right-footed James Justin; with another right-footed player in Jorge Grant playing just ahead of Justin, a lack of width could be problematic.

While Luton should put in a competitive performance, Stanley look under-priced.


Accrington +1 handicap – 

Read Gabriel Sutton’s Championship Week 14 betting preview here!

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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