Date: 2nd September 2011 at 8:27am
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The majority of Conference sides have now played six games in the 2011/12 season. Well-fancied teams such as Luton Town and Fleetwood are currently in mid-table while the likes of Wrexham and Gateshead are setting the pace at the top. Nevertheless, Luton are favourites to finish first at 11/4 as they are still expected to enjoy a strong campaign under the guidance of the promising young manager Gary Brabin.

There was also great deal of support for Fleetwood over the summer months. However, the Trawlermen are currently 11th in the table having won two, drawn two and lost two so far this term. Last campaign’s champions Crawley had a similarly slow start to the season so Fleetwood will no doubt be hoping that they can improve as the Red Devils did last time round. If Fleetwood can put their bad start to the season behind them the 5/1 available on Micky Mellon’s side could be a great price come the business end of the season.

Wrexham are currently top of the Conference and the Welsh side are now 5/1 joint-second favourites with Fleetwood. Dean Saunders’ side have a wealth of experience in their ranks in the likes of Andy Morrell, Dean Keates and Gareth Taylor. The Red Dragons are still unbeaten and given that they have won all three games on their travels they appear to be a much improved side this time round after a disappointing 2010/11 campaign.

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Gateshead are currently level with Wrexham on points which is a great achievement for the Tynesiders as Ian Bogie’s side operate on one of the smallest budgets in the entire division. The Heed`s star striker Jon Shaw has already bagged seven goals this term which has led to interest from Luton Town. However, Shaw has stated that he is happy to remain at the International Stadium. Gateshead tasted some success in the FA Trophy last season, progressing to the semi-finals before elimination. It would appear that Bogie’s side are now even stronger after some smart close season captures and the 22/1 available on them topping the Conference looks a very attractive price at this moment in time.

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Darlington are currently fourth in the Conference and are 9/1 to lift the title next May. The Quakers have assembled a strong squad over the summer although a number of the club’s established players such as Liam Hatch and Marc Bridge-Wilkinson have been dropped from the first eleven after starting the season slowly. Darlo have given youngsters such as Ryan Bowman and John Campbell opportunities up front and both of the forwards are currently in great form. Quakers fans will be hoping their team can achieve at least a play-off place given the roster of players Mark Cooper currently has at his disposal.

Chris Mackenzie