Some teams in League One are over a quarter of the way through their season, so now is a good time to take stock and assess which sides are on course for promotion. I’ve taken a look at the market to come up with a couple of tips, as we pause for breath during this international break.

League 1 Promotion Tips

  • Portsmouth to be promoted at 4/6
  • Oxford United to be promoted at 5/6

Portsmouth to be promoted at 4/6

Unlike in the Championship, where Leicester are 1/5 to be promoted, there is still some value in backing League One’s leaders for promotion. At 4/6, Portsmouth are still backable and based on what we have seen so far – almost unstoppable. John Mousinho finally looks like he is the manager who has awoken this sleeping giant and after 12 matches, they remain unbeaten. 

Colby Bishop remains one of the league’s most dangerous strikers but the foundation for any title tilt is the defence, and Pompey have conceded just eight goals across 12 games so far. Everything about this squad and manager suggests not just that promotion is on the cards, but a title challenge. Given the slow starts the pre-season favourites Derby County and Bolton Wanderers have made, Pompey are going to take some catching. 

Oxford United to be promoted at 5/6

It may seem slightly boring to pick the current top two to get promoted, but they’ve been by far and away the two best teams in the league. I was bullish on Bolton before the start of the season given Ian Evatt’s qualities and how they performed last season, but, they have given me too much cause for concern recently. They were beaten by Carlise at home in their last match, but more importantly, are conceding far too many goals. 15 conceded so far is the same as Reading, who are in the bottom three!

Meanwhile, Derby’s stars are yet to fire this term and their strong squad may challenge the top six, but a top two spot could be out of touch. But those are the negatives. The positives come from Oxford United and Liam Manning. Since losing on the opening day, they’ve been almost untouchable. 

They’ve won nine of 11 matches, including all of their last six, and are just one point behind Portsmouth with a game in hand. With Ruben Rodrigues and Billy Bodin, Oxford are able to create chances at will and they are the league’s second-highest scorers. All of this points to a very successful season, and with this rate of goalscoring, they are going to be incredibly tough to stop.


The aforementioned Derby and Bolton have both drifted out to 6/4, but I wouldn’t be going near them at that price. Barnsley are a more interesting pick at 5/2, given their recent success has carried them up to third. Meanwhile, underdogs Stevenage may be worth a fancy at 6/1, as Steve Evans continues to work miracles there. I also like the look of Charlton, who are down in 12th after a slow start, but have an impressive squad. Now under new boss Michael Appleton, the 10/1 on them to get promoted is generous.

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