The English National League – often referred to as the Conference – is the top tier of non-league football in England from where teams can gain promotion to League Two (the fourth tier of English football, three below the Premier League). With the rewards of making it into the Football League massive (on a relative scale – we’re not talking the multi-million pound TV deals of the Premier League here!), competition in the National League is fierce, even if the quality is not always top notch. Here we bring you our predictions for which team we think will win the National League and we are hopeful our outright winner betting tips will bring home the bacon.

At the time of writing we are about half way through the 2015-16 season and things are nicely poised for Cheltenham who are leading the way after having lost just two of their 23 games to date (at home to Tranmere and away to Altrincham). Indeed, Gary Johnson’s side are the current favourites in the outright winner betting for the National League with Sportingbet and BetVictor both offering best betting odds of 7/4 at the present time. But they won’t have things all their own way in the second half of the season given that they have to travel to six of the other sides currently in the top 10 in the division while they must also host Grimsby Town and Lincoln City, both themselves very much in the running for the title.

Grimsby – who were pushing for promotion to the top flight within living memory before their catastrophic freefall through the divisions – are the second favourites for the National League title at betting odds of 3/1 with 10Bet. Managed by former Rotherham United defender Paul Hurst, the Mariners have finished in the play-offs in each of the last three seasons, but stumbled at that hurdle and were unable to gain promotion. They will be determined to gain automatic promotion this term by topping the division and after a recent run of five straight victories (including a 5-1 FA Cup win over St Albans), they have top spot in their sights. At odds of 3/1 we fancy Grimsby offer decent value in the outright betting at this stage of the campaign.

Next in the betting comes Forest Green Rovers who are out at 9/2 with Sportingbet, and though they are currently in second place in the National League – a point behind Cheltenham and four ahead of third-placed Grimsby – we feel they are currently punching above their weight and that they will fade in the second half of the season. Adrian Pennock’s side have managed some good results this term, notably draws home and away with Cheltenham and a draw at Grimsby, but defeats to the likes of Woking and Gateshead make us question their credentials when it comes to challenging for the title.

Lincoln City are another side who can perform well on their day but who often slip up against lesser opposition, losing at Welling United and Barrow already this season. This is reflected in their betting odds of 40/1 with Sky Bet, but given that Chris Moyses’ men are currently in fourth place in the division, just two points behind near neighbours Grimsby, some will see that price as good value.

For us though, the main betting tip we want to give is to back Grimsby Town to finish at the top of the National League and get back into the Football League after six years of trying. The Mariners are a well-equipped side with experience of battling for promotion (and failing), and we think this will be their season to finish at the top of the pile so back them now before their odds shorten further.


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