Football Tips: Your League 1 & League 2 outright best bets for 2021/22

Our tipster Colin Harvey delves into the lower leagues for some outright value.


*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change

With the glitz and glamour of the Euros now a distant memory, our attention turns to the hard grind of the relentless League 1 and League 2 schedules. There’s plenty of value about and, while the lower leagues might not have the allure of their bigger brothers, we’ve got plenty of scope to make some cash.

So, settle in as we take a wander through League 1 and League 2 looking to find the value punts for winner, relegation and the top scorer in each league. We’ll kick off with League 1.

Winner – Lincoln

Anyone who’s dared to cast half an eye over our League 1 coverage will know I really like Lincoln. They’re a side who have statistically proven to get better and better year on year since arriving back in the EFL in 2017/18. Every season since 2014/15 they’ve finished higher than the year before, winning two promotions along the way.

The omens are good then, as they finished 5th last season with three of those finishing above them going up. They don’t have the biggest budget but they know what they’re about and they always get the most out of their squad. With a boisterous Sincil Bank crowd back, they could be a big-priced title contender this season.

That’s partly because of my doubts around the other major contenders. Sunderland haven’t recruited well at the time of writing and are developing a bit of a ‘bottle job’ reputation, now without their talismanic goalscorer Charlie Wyke. Ipswich had a nightmare last season and that’s putting me off them but they’ve made a good appointment in Paul Cook and some decent signings as well.

Anything could happen at Sheffield Wednesday this season and you wouldn’t be able to back them with any confidence before a ball is kicked. Charlton are a decent shout and had a good campaign last term but still missed out on the playoffs. Wigan probably have too much to do to justify their price while Rotherham could have realistic hopes.

And so, my finger falls firmly on Lincoln. They’re by no means the favourites but with a few days to go to kick-off, I really like their price and think they, of all those on offer at the top of the market, are the most appealing.



Paddy’s favourites for the drop, Morecambe, look good value for that no-so illustrious title. It’s never a good look when the manager who’s just taken you up decides to leave and drop back into the league below, even if that manager is Derek Adams. If that doesn’t set alarm bells ringing, nothing will. Very hard to see them staying up.


Cambridge were fired to promotion from League 2 last season in no small part thanks to Paul Mullin’s amazing 32 league goals. He made waves in the lower league by deciding to leave the now League 1 side and head for New Hollywood, aka Wrexham. His goals will be impossible to replace and that alone could be their undoing.


Accrington have been performing miracles in League 1 since their arrival in 2018/19. But, football is a cruel mistress and with so much financial uncertainty around following the pandemic, this might be the season they finally run out of steam. I would not be surprised if they survive again but at a decent price they could be one of the four to drop, despite an 11th-placed finish last term.

Sheffield Wednesday

One at a big price here and a real punt. We’ve seen countless times over the years (Luton, Bolton, Portsmouth…) that clubs coming into League 1 in a state often find themselves dropping out of it after one season. They’re a bit of a shambles off the pitch and finished rock bottom of the Championship last season. Sheffield Wednesday would have stayed up if it wasn’t for a points deduction and they look the relegated team most likely to struggle.

Top Scorer

It’s a strange-looking Top Goalscorer market with a lot of the top contenders likely to feature for some of the struggling teams. Charlie Wyke banged them in last season for Sunderland after some barren years and there will be a lot of pressure on him to replicate that at Wigan.

If Ipswich go well then Joe Pigott should feature prominently on the top goalscorer charts but I’m hesitant to go in on the Tractor Boys. Instead, I’m looking to one of the relegated sides and Freddie Ladapo of Rotherham.

He only got nine last season but that was in a struggling Championship side. He’ll enjoy it more in the third tier and The Millers should be going out to win most games rather than not lose them so he should be presented with plenty of chances. A good punt at a delicious price.

League 2

Winner – Newport

If you think League 1 is hard to unravel, get a load of League 2. The top of Paddy’s markets feature some of the old favourites who have flattered to deceive over the years, here’s looking at you Salford, Mansfield and Bradford. I’d avoid all three, by the way. Forest Green are an interesting proposition and they’re clearly on the up and improving season-on-season in their own unique, eco-friendly way. Are they too nice, though? I think so.

Swindon and Northampton have come down in bad shape while the less said about the situation at Bristol Rovers the better. Leyton Orient probably don’t have the squad while the only thing you can back Exeter to do is let you down. Instead, I really like the look of Newport’s price.

I fancied Michael Flynn’s Newport to make it up through the playoffs as the picture became clearer towards the final few games. Alas, they missed out to Morecambe in the final, but this County outfit are a proper ‘nails’ team.

That disappointment will drive them on and, while they might not have the best squad in the league, they’ve got one of the best managers at this level who is a perfect fit both for the club and its mentality. At the price on offer my cash will definitely be going on Newport to win the League 2 title.


Sutton United

It’s pretty tough to work out who’s set for non-league football in 2022/23 as there are a fair few realistic candidates but you have to say that Sutton look most likely to be making their stay in the EFL a short one. A few years ago when they drew Arsenal in the FA Cup they hinted that they’d probably like to stay non-league forever, such were the complications with getting promoted and losing their artificial pitch and the revenue that brings. However, the former part-timers might struggle amongst hardened EFL sides.


The slide at Scunthorpe has been steady but seemingly unstoppable. They finished just outside the drop zone last season and don’t seem to have strengthened massively this summer. They’re the same price as Barrow to do down, but given the differing outlooks at the respective clubs, I think we might see Scunny slip into the National League come May.

Top Scorer

Paul Mullin absolutely mullered the competition in this field last year, smashing an incredible 13 goals more than the next best. In terms of the runners and riders left in the division, Exeter’s Matt Jay scored the most with 18 and should go well again. Exeter’s young side scored the most goals in the division last season and I’m plumping for one of their new signings at a bigger price than the new Grecians captain.

That’s Sam Nombe. The former Luton and MK Dons striker arrived at Exeter over the summer for a club-record fee and has hit the ground running in, admittedly, some weak looking friendlies. Elsewhere we’ve got some old warhorses in the running in the shape of Brett Pitman and Ian Henderson of Rovers and Salford respectively.

Both will score plenty but I’m taking a little bit of a chance on a man dropping down two divisions and slotting into last season’s highest-scoring club in Nombe. Special mention to FGR’s Jamille Matt who will also score plenty, but at the bigger price it’s Nombe for me.

League 1 outright tips

Winner: Lincoln
To Be Relegated: Morecambe, Cambridge, Accrington, Sheffield Wednesday
Top Scorer: Freddie Ladapo

League 2 outright tips

Winner: Newport
To Be Relegated: Sutton United, Scunthorpe
Top Scorer: Sam Nombe

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change


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