Not for the first time, Tranmere is a false favourite for an English National League match and, not for the first time, one is opposing Rovers on their fifth-tier travels.
Last month, one highlighted the value in backing Aldershot to defeat Tranmere in English National League action. This week, one is turning the spotlight on Dover, which will welcome Tranmere to the Crabble Athletic Ground on Saturday.
Seventeen rounds into the English National League competition and there is little to choose between Dover and Tranmere on the ladder. Dover is ranked sixth with a 10-1-6 record and no team has scored more than its 33 goals. Tranmere is ranked fourth with a 10-3-4 record and no team has conceded fewer than its 10 goals. Clearly both Dover and Tranmere are legitimate English National League contenders.
But unlike bookmakers, one is far from convinced that Dover is inferior to Tranmere. Dover is available at odds of +180 with 888Sport and Unibet to beat Tranmere this weekend, odds that imply that Athletic are a lot weaker than Rovers. Not only does Dover boast the English National League’s hottest marksman, Ricky Miller – some of you may remember that he was the subject of a double-digit top goal scorer pick before he embarked on his remarkable run – but also it enjoys a significant collateral form advantage over Tranmere more than one-third of the way through the season.
According to one’s English National League collateral form analysis, Dover and Tranmere have had 13 common opponents and Athletic holds a clear 6-4-3 edge over Rovers. Dover has outperformed Tranmere in their respective English National League matches against Eastleigh, Lincoln, North Ferriby, Southport, Sutton and York. Tranmere has outperformed Dover in their respective English National League matches against Boreham Wood, Dagenham & Redbridge and Wrexham. And English National League honours have been shared when Dover and Tranmere have encounters Aldershot, Barrow, Bromley and Gateshead. Collateral form analysis is a terrific way of identifying betting value because bookmakers place too much faith on not only league ladder but also club reputations.
Tranmere is the biggest name in the English National League. Tranmere took part in the 2000 English Worthington Cup final and they competed in the English Premier League promotion play-offs three times under the late John King. Tranmere dropped into the English National League 17 months ago and bookmakers are still treating Rovers as an English Football League side even though they finished sixth in the fifth tier last term. Bookmakers know that thousands of punters will back Tranmere to win English National League games regardless of its opponents so rarely are Rovers value.
Dover and, in particular, Miller have been on fire in the last few weeks, Dover has won four of its last four games across all competitions and Athletic scored twice in their 2-4 English National League loss at Gateshead. Miller has found the back of the net in each of those five matches, notching 10 goals including four at home to Braintree in a 6-1 English National League victory for Dover – he reached his hat-trick inside 33 minutes and he scored his first three goals in a 12-minute period. There is no transfer window in the English National League so some of Dover’s divisional rivals would love to lure Miller away from the port town. A move to an English Football League team seems like the greatest risk to one’s big-priced futures wager.
Dover to beat Tranmere
Saturday 29th October, 15:00 GMT