Saturday, July 30, 2011

League Two Season Preview

With the League Two season nearly upon us, I thought it would be apt to give my view on who I think will suceed and exceed expectations and a look at those who may struggle and disappoint.

AFC Wimbledon: The real Dons are the hardest team to predict how they will do during their first ever season in league football. Many have tipped them to struggle and have lost forward Danny Kedwell following a transfer request. Although Wimbledon have always succeeded against the odds and in the face of adversity. I predict a mid-table finish for them this season.

Accrington Stanley: Exceeded expectations last season by finishing 5th and reaching the play-offs by doing so. Stanley lost key player Jimmy Ryan to Scunthorpe United. I would be surprised to see Stanley up there again and personally expect them to struggle and have somewhat of a hangover season finishing in the bottom half.

Aldershot Town: A club that has gone in the right direction in recent seasons. Dean Holdsworth is a fairly unknown quantity as far as management is concerned. A team that could go either way and surprise us all just like they did in the 2009-2010 season. Although I would predict a mid-table finish, making up the numbers finish once again.

Barnet: The Bees did superbly to stay in the Football League when many thought the writing was on the wall for relegation. Barnet were promoted to League Two in 2005 and their aim has always been survival. With their miracle survival, I expect momentum to be on their side and them to have a safe mid-table finish.

Bradford City: Bradford were relegated from the Premier League just 10 years ago and they have had an awful decade since. They were massively disappointing last season, finishing in a lowly 18th which saw the exit of Peter Taylor. Supporters will be expecting much better and at least a challenge for the play-offs. However, I expect a similar tale to last season and will continue to underachieve in the basement division.

Bristol Rovers: Expectations are high at the Memorial Stadium this season following the appointment of Paul Buckle. Rovers have seen many ins and outs with the most notable being the departure of Will Hoskins. They have signed no less than 15 players as they aim for a straight return to the third tier. Buckle fell at the final hurdle with Torquay last season but I expect him to go one better this season.

Burton Albion: Burton were fighting for survival for a large part of last season and I fully expect the same to happen once again. Due to their stature, they struggle to retain players when bigger clubs come calling. Last season they lost top scorer Shaun Harrad in January and have sold keeper Legzdins to Derby County. With this in mind, I expect 22nd place to be an achievement.

Cheltenham Town: Another team that I certainly expect to struggle this time round. Cheltenham have lost top scorer Wes Thomas to money bags Crawley whilst bringing ex-Swindon player Kaid Mohamed as a replacement. Having watched him at the County Ground I know he is no able replacement for Thomas. I would say a relegation scrap is on the cards.

Crawley Town: It is clear to see that new boys Crawley are the Manchester City of the lower leagues. They sprinted out the transfer tracks adding some strength including Hope Akran from Everton and Bristol City striker John Akinde. Despite it being their first ever season in the football league, I expect them to make a serious promotion or even title challenge.

Crewe Alexandra: Finished in a very respectable 10th place last season. Although that was largely thanks to the 28 goals from the now departed Clayton Donaldson. Goalscorers are the hardest players to replace in football. With arrivals at Alexandra looking few and far between I predict a bottom half finish.

Dagenham & Redbridge: Exceeded expectations when they were promoted two seasons ago from this division. Like most relegated sides, the Daggers will have many departures. Right winger Danny Green left for pastures new to join Charlton Athletic. He managed 14 goals and and 13 assists last season so won't be easy to replace. League Two is probably their level so expect a top half finish without threatening the play-offs.

Gillingham: Last season they were somewhat unlucky not to reach the play-offs and Gillingham have made intent they aim to reach the play-offs. Have made a number of signings including six captures in just one day. Danny Kedwell, who scored 24 goals in the Blue Square Premier is the most notable. I would predict a place in the play-offs for the Gills.

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