League Two

League Two Preview

Barrow

The season for Barrow, got off to a positive start as they managed to hold Derby to a draw, and only lost the tie in a penalty shootout. The new season will see David Dunn take over the reins from Ian Evatt, who has left to become manager at Bolton Wanderers. This season will be a first football league season in 48 years for Barrow, after they won promotion from the national league, with the season being decided on Points Per Game (PPG) after the season was curtailed. They were the highest scorers in the National League and had the third best defence in the league so they will want to carry that over into the League Two campaign. Barrow have made numerous signings that they will hope will help them stay in the league. Bobby Burns, Matty Platt and Callum Gribbin have all signed for David Dunn’s side. Harrison Biggins has joined on loan from Fleetwood and Scott Wilson has also signed for the club. The additions that have been recruited to an already promising squad will give David Dunn hope that Barrow can perform well in the football league.

Bolton Wanderers

Bolton may be an unknown quantity in this division. They seem to be favourites with the bookies, but that may be due to the size and stature of the club rather than the current situation. The summer has seen Bolton effectively build a whole new squad after their relegation from League One. The summer has also seen the departure of Keith Hill, and Ian Evatt has come in from Barrow after he helped them to promotion from the National League. Eoin Doyle has come in over the summer after he had a successful season last season as he finished as the top goal scorer in the league with 25 goals. The summer has also seen Nathan Delfouneso come in as another forward option. The challenge for Bolton will be to get a new group of players to gel quickly as they have seen other new players join such as defender George Taft, Midfielder Tutte who has joined after being released from Morecambe. Alex Baptiste and Shaun Miller have also joined the promotion hopefuls.

New Bolton manager Ian Evatt

Bradford City

Bradford had a poor season last year, finishing eighth in the league. Gary Bowyer was sacked in February. Stuart Mccall was appointed manager for his third spell in charge of the Yorkshire club. 23-year-old midfielder Callum Cooke has joined the club permanently after a loan spell last season. They have also brought in Levi Sutton, Mottley-Henry, Watt and Billy Clarke who has signed for a third time. The issue may be working out the best forward options, with Clarke, Donaldson, Novak and Guthrie, the current forward options that available.

Cambridge United

Cambridge may be a dark horse in League Two this season. They have the second youngest manager in League football, with Mark Bonner in charge. They have lost players in the summer with the likes of George Marris, Paul Lewis and Sami Carruthers leaving. They have brought in Wes Hoolahan, who is a quality addition, though there may be doubt whether he can cope with the tough League Two schedule, with the veteran midfielder now being 38. They will want to improve on last season when they finished in 16th place.

Carlisle United

Carlisle United have had a few disappointing seasons since the 16/17 where they finished in the play-offs. In the last 3 seasons, they have finished 10th, 11th and 18th. Last season was a poor season as they finished down in 18th place, and they had the joint third worst defence, with 56 goals conceded last season. Also, only 39 goals were scored, with only Macclesfield, Stevenage, Morecambe and Newport County scoring fewer goals. Therefore, a poor defence and a struggle to score goals go some way to explain why they were poor last season, and that they will need to improve at both ends of the pitch this coming season. Farman has joined after leaving Stevenage and Dickenson, Toure and South African international Dean Furman are new signings which hopefully improve the squad. It will be an interesting season for Chris Beech as he joined as manager in November 2019, so the coming season will be his first full season in charge and he will be looking to make a name for himself in League Two this season.

Cheltenham Town

Cheltenham will be looking to go one better than last season and earn automatic promotion after they lost in the play-off semi-finals to Northampton Town. In Michael Duff, they have a manager who is one of the most promising managers in the football league. They have lost Ryan Broom, after he joined Peterborough. Also, Luke Varney has left the club, though they have made additions themselves, experienced midfielder Liam Sercombe has joined as well as Matty Blair. They have also signed Azaz and have brought forward Andy Williams in. Midfielder Elliot Bonds has joined from Hull on a season-long loan deal. With the additions made to an already quality squad, Cheltenham Town will be one of the teams to watch this season.

Colchester United

Colchester have changed their manager since the play-offs, they let go of John McGreal who had been the manager for four years and replaced him with Steve Ball, who is a former player and assistant manager at the club. The Colchester job will be Ball’s first full time job as manager. They have a relatively small squad with players like Nouble and Prosser leaving in the summer. They have signed Shamal George, a former Liverpool youngster, who is a 22-year-old goalkeeper and they have signed Taylor-Crossdale from Fulham on a season-long loan deal. Taylor-Crossdale signed for Fulham in 2010 from Chelsea but has only played one first team game. He joins Colchester with England youth pedigree as he is an under 20 international.

Crawley Town

The Sussex side were 13th last season. John Yems was appointed manager in December 2019, and will be wanting to have a successful season in his first full time managerial role, having been Bournemouth’s head of football operations from 2012 to 2018 and has had scouting roles since for clubs like Newcastle United. The summer has seen Lubala join Blackpool, but it has seen additions as well, with midfielder Hessenthaler joining, as well as striker Tom Nichols who has also joined on an initial one-year deal. Goalkeeper Tom McGill has also joined on loan from Premier League Brighton and Hove Albion.

Exeter City

Matt Taylor has guided Exeter to two successive play-offs while he has been in charge and will be aiming to get that elusive promotion for his side. The summer has seen defenders McArdle and Caprice come in. They have also signed 24-year-old Lewis Page, who had a successful trial and joins after spending three and half years at Charlton Athletic that were plagued by injury. Last seasons top scorer and the third best scorer in the league Ryan Bowman will be a key player and if Randall Williams stays it will be positive as he was joint top of the assist table with 14 assists last season.

Forest Green Rovers

Forest will be looking to have an improved season than last seasons’ 10th place. Forest Green have a good squad that is capable of at least the play-offs. They have kept Ebou Adams, while Mills and Shepherd have left. They have brought in striker Jamille Matt, who has good League Two experience, and they have brought in midfielder Scott Wagstaff, and midfielder Elliot Whitehouse has joined after leaving Grimsby Town. Jordan Moore-Taylor and Nicky Cadden have also joined Forest Green. There will be pressure on Mark Cooper to get this side into play-off and promotion contention.

Grimsby Town

Ian Holloway will have his first full season as Grimsby manager as he took over in December 2019.  There have been several signings, with centre back Moshni joining and Danny Rose has joined, a man that has won the League Two title on three occasions for Northampton Town, Portsmouth and Swindon Town. George Williams signed as well, after leaving Forest Green and the man who has played seven times for Wales will be looking to put the injuries behind him and fulfil his potential. They have also signed young strikers Montel Gibson and Alhagi Touray Sisay. They have signed wingers Sean Scannell and Owura Edwards, with Edwards joining on loan from Bristol City. Full back Danny Preston has signed on loan from Nottingham Forest and midfielder Terry Taylor has joined on loan from Wolves. Grimsby Town may be a team to watch, with many signings, they could have a successful season if the players gel.

Harrogate Town

The pitch is a strange but potential issue for Harrogate Town. They will play at Doncaster’s Keepmoat stadium until they can return to their newly laid grass pitch as they had to dig up their 3G pitch that they used in the National League. They have most of the same team that saw them win promotion via the play offs after they beat Notts County in the play-off final at Wembley. They will miss Jack Diamond who has returned to Sunderland after his loan spell last season. They will want to carry over last seasons goal scoring form as they were the joint second highest scorers of the National League, where they scored 61 goals in 37 games. Their main priority will be to stay in the league, but with a stable squad and manager, they will be confident of doing so and they might be a surprise in League Two.

Leyton Orient

The London side will want to resolve last season’s issue of conceding too many goals as they conceded 55 goals in 36 league games. Ross Embleton is the manager and he has brought in Ousseynou Cisse who has joined on a permanent deal after a loan spell at the club last season. A key player for Leyton Orient will be Jordan Maguire-Drew. They did lose centre back Ekpiteta who signed for Blackpool. Leyton Orient, will want to make a couple more additions if they want to progress from last season’s position of 17th.

Mansfield Town

Mansfield are a team that with the players they have especially in forward areas, should be in and around the play-offs at least. The forward options are exceptional for a League Two side. They have Nicky Maynard and Danny Rose who scored 25 goals between them last season. They also have Andy Cook, Jamie Reid and Jordan Bowery available as forward options, the issue will be giving them all sufficient playing time. George Maris will be a good addition after joining from Cambridge, and they have also signed defenders Rollin Menayese, Farrend Rawson, James Perch, Aaron O’Driscoll. They have also signed Ollie Clarke, who left Bristol Rovers to sign a two-year deal with Mansfield Town. If Coughlan, the Mansfield manager can bed the players in and keep the forwards happy then Mansfield will be looking for a promising season.

Nicky Maynard scored 14 goals in League Two last season

Morecambe

Morecambe are a side that for many seasons have been many people’s favourites to be relegated. Last season they saw their long-term manager Jim Bentley leave to join AFC Fylde. They appointed Derek Adams, who has League Two experience, after manager Plymouth Argyle for many years, which led to them being promoted. Promotion may be a long stretch for this side, but they will be hoping for them to be safe and under Adams that should be the case. They have brought in defenders Knight-Percival, Davis and Hendrie and Mellor, and Ryan Cooney has joined on loan from Burnley. They have signed experienced midfielder Ben Pringle, goalkeeper Jake Turner on loan and Liam McAlinden has signed. A player to keep an eye on for the Shrimps will be Carlos Mendes Gomes. Morecambe will be confident that under Derek Adams, they will be safe in League Two.

Newport County

Newport did not have the season they wished last season as they finished 14th place. Newport have recruited forwards Ryan Taylor and 41-year-old Kevin Ellison. They have also recruited forwards Scott Twine and Saikou Janneh who have joined on loan. Moreover, they signed David Longe-King on a one-year deal. A key player for Newport will be Josh Sheehan, the talented midfielder is one of the best players in the league. With the signing of some experienced and talented forwards, Newport will be confident of doing well this season.

Oldham Athletic

This season will be an important one for Harry Kewell, who is the new Oldham manager. The Australian impressed at Crawley Town, however his reputation was affected negatively after a poor spell as Notts County manager. The Latics have seen problems with the ownership and although the ownership has not changed, there is hope that things have settled down. They have signed defenders Sido Jombati, Carl Piergianni and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson. Bobby Grant has signed on loan from Wrexham.  Forward Conor McAleny is another signing that Oldham have made. If Harry Kewell performs like he did at Crawley, then Oldham may be looking at a positive season.

Port Vale

Port Vale are an example of a well-run club and they are a side that can reach the play-offs. Last season they only lost one game at home and they will be hoping their home form carries on into the new season. Port Vale have signed strikers Devante Rodney and Theo Robinson. Defenders Zak Mills and David Fitzpatrick have also signed for Port Vale with midfielder Danny Whitehead and goalkeeper Dino Visser also adding to John Askey’s side. A player Port Vale will be reliant on is David Worrall, who is someone Port Vale rely on to create chances as he demonstrated last season with 11st assists, the 5th highest in the league. John Askey will be hoping his additions to a stable side will provide Port Vale a good foundation to challenge for the play-offs at the very least.

Salford City

Salford are a contender for promotion and have one of the best squads in the league. Last season they finished 11th. This season they should be challenging at the top of the league after they have made some impressive additions to their squad. The summer has seen them sign centre back Tom Clarke, who was released by Preston. Winger Ash Hunter has joined on permanent deal after a loan spell last season. Salford have also signed Darron Gibson again, after he left the club in May following a short-term deal. Another midfield option is Jason Lowe, who has been brought in after he left Bolton Wanderers. They have strengthened in all areas of the pitch, with a goalkeeper who has a good reputation in Scotland in the form of Vaclav Hladky, who joined after leaving St Mirren. The defence is strengthened by Jordan Turnbull, who left Northampton after winning promotion via the play offs with the Cobblers and started the final for them back in June. Ian Henderson joins after being released by Rochdale due to financial circumstances caused by the pandemic. Ian Henderson was Rochdale’s second highest goal scorer and scored 15 goals in League One last season. Salford have strength in depth all over the pitch and will be a strong side in League Two this season.

Scunthorpe United

Scunthorpe finished 20th last season and had a poor defensive record, with only Morecambe and Oldham conceding more. Neil Cox is the new manager, who takes up his first full time managerial role having previously been assistant to Neil Ardley at AFC Wimbledon and Notts County. It is an important job for Cox as he was born in Scunthorpe, so he will want to prove that he is the right man for the job. Scunthorpe have signed Tyler Cordner on loan from Bournemouth. They have also signed forwards Ryan Loft, Myles Hippolyte and Dunnwald-Turan. Scunthorpe may be looking to bring in more additions, now it seems that mid table might be where the Irons finish up.

Neil Cox is the new manager at Scunthorpe

Southend United

Last season, Southend were relegated after an extremely poor season, where they only finished above Bolton Wanderers who started the season with a 12-point deduction. Southend conceded 85 goals in just 35 league games. Mark Mosely is the man in charge and his task is to turn around a team that has forgotten how to win and to try and stop the team falling further. Southend will have a lot of young players in their squad for the coming season. Moseley joins after guiding Weymouth to the National League after winning the National League South play offs. Jordan Green has joined from Barnsley on loan and defender Shaun Hobson has signed on a one-year deal. The Essex side will want to make a few more additions and Mosely will do well to stop the decline and make sure at the very least Southend stay in League Two and do not suffer another relegation

Stevenage

Stevenage stayed in the league after a football league appeal was upheld last month which meant that the suspended 4-point deduction would now be applied and that led to Macclesfield falling below Stevenage and Stevenage were therefore given a reprieve. Stevenage were poor in front of goal last season, as they only scored 24 goals in 36 games. They only won three games all season, though with a lot of additions over the summer, they will hope this season will be an improved one. Signings have included, Tyrone Marsh who joins after he scored 14 goals for Boreham Wood in the National League last season. Ben Coker joins on loan from Lincoln and defender Luke Prosser joins after leaving Colchester. Chelsea goalkeeper Jamie Cumming has also joined on loan. The new additions to the squad will give Stevenage promise of a much-improved season.

Tranmere Rovers

Tranmere will be an interesting team to watch this season, especially to see if they are fired up after they felt they were wrongfully relegated last season as they were only 3 points off safety with a game in hand, when the league was curtailed. They will want to be more solid defensively as they conceded 60 goals in their 34 games last season. The summer has seen manager Micky Mellon depart for Dundee United, with Mike Jackson the man that has been given the vacant managerial role after being Micky Mellon’s assistant. Tranmere have some quality players with Manny Monthé in the centre of defence and Blackett Taylor on the wing. They have also brought in Jay Spearing in the centre of midfield. Otis Khan and Paul Lewis have come in and Lee O’Connor joins from Celtic on a one-year loan deal. James Vaughan signed a two-year deal after leaving Bradford. Vaughan spent the second half of last season on loan at Tranmere. Tranmere will be looking to return to League One at the first attempt.

Walsall

Walsall struggled in League Two last season as they finished 14th. They will be aiming to be around the play-offs this season. George Nurse has joined on loan from Bristol City. Rory Holden signs after a successful loan spell at the club last season. They have also recruited Jack Rose, Emmanuel Osadebe and Hayden White. They also have some decent young players in the form of midfielder Alfie Bates and Elijah Adebayo. Walsall will be a team that should be in that top half of the table and challenging for the play-offs.

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