2015-16 League Two Season Preview

Here are this blog’s predictions for the forthcoming League Two season. Newport and Carlisle will suffer relegation to the Conference, Stevenage will struggle under Teddy Sheringham, Portsmouth will finish in the bottom half, Notts County will fare the best of the relegated teams, York City will be the surprise package while Luton Town will storm to the title.

Luton Town have had an excellent transfer window this summer, having arguably strengthened in every single position. With the likes of Paddy McCourt and Cameron McGeehan signing permanent deals, they will score plenty of goals from midfield this season. Promotion must be their principle objective. 1st

John Sheridan built a solid defence at Plymouth, but new manager Derek Adams has made a few tweaks to make the team more of a threat in attack. Arrivals from Scotland Gregg Wylde and Graham Carey will add creativity, along with new midfielder Josh Simpson. Plymouth are ready to move up another level this season. 2nd

The team that takes the neutrals by surprise this season will be York City. They will continue their improvement with a 3-at-the-back system, helped by a solid defence and an industrious midfield. If new strikers Reece Thompson and Vadaine Oliver hit the ground running, York have the core ingredients of a side that can win promotion. 3rd

Notts County will not be as reliant on loanees as they have been in previous seasons, having assembled a strong and durable squad with Jonathan Stead being one of the signings of the summer. Of the 4 teams coming down from League One, County are in the strongest position. 4th

Oxford United are heavily fancied for promotion this season, and it is not difficult to see why. Since finishing their 2014-15 campaign 8 games unbeaten, they have pulled off some audacious signings, bringing in speedy winger Kemar Roofe after successful loan spell. Expect a strong campaign from the U’s. 5th

Don’t rule Wycombe out completely. Losing defender Alfie Mawson is a big blow, but he was one of only 3 players Wycombe have lost this summer that started more than 15 games last season. If they can find a quick forward player to suitably replace Fred Onyedinma, they will continue to look upwards, rather than downwards. 6th

Exeter City’s main problem last season was their defensive record, so it will please their supporters to see the arrival of an experienced goalkeeper in Bobby Olejnik. Going forward, the Grecians play some of the prettiest football in League Two, and new signing Lee Holmes will add quality out wide. With an impressive model of development and a likeable approach to the game, the Grecians can exceed expectations once again. 7th

If games were won solely on attacking quality, this blog would tip Northampton Town to win the title. The Cobblers have a vast array of creative talent supporting top scorer Marc Richards, with winger Ricky Holmes among the best players in the division. However, the team’s tendency to let in late goals, and Chris Wilder’s decision to let go of centre-back Lee Collins, might just cost Northampton a place in the top 7. 8th

Barnet won promotion from the Conference last season, and their subsequent transfer business suggests ambitions of more than just League Two consolidation. The addition of centre-back Bira Dembele represents an excellent piece of business, and top scorer John Akinde has stayed on. There is every reason for Bees fans to be buzzing this year. 9th

With the signings they have made this summer, Cambridge United will expect to improve on last season’s 19th place finish. Many of the new players had been at a club in a higher league, which shows the club’s current allure. However, the lack of defensive depth may prove problematic, and it remains to be seen how quickly the new team will integrate. 10th

The lack of off-field stability at Leyton Orient makes it hard to back them for promotion. New manager Ian Hendon must cut the wage bill down, so it is not surprising that he has tended to target young players who are yet to prove themselves. Orient have the ultimate aim of getting back into League One, but it won’t be a quick fix. 11th

Mansfield Town have done good business in the summer transfer window, and they needed too. Impressive early recruitment has wiped away any negativity that might have lingered among fans after a poor run of form at the end of last season, and the new strikers will help the Stags improve drastically on their poor goal return of 38 last term. Mansfield are capable of a top half finish. 12th

After winning promotion from the Conference last season, Bristol Rovers have had a challenging summer transfer window, by manager Darrell Clarke’s own admission. They have a strong defence and 2 good strikers in Matt Taylor in Ellis Harrison, but the test is how well they fare a level above. The average team coming up from the Conference finishes 13th in their first season… that sounds about right. 13th

Don’t believe the hype about Portsmouth. They have a squad filled with too many luxury players, who will prove incapable of forming a cohesive unit. As a team that has finished in the bottom half of League Two in the last 2 seasons, Pompey are valued highly by the bookies on status, not on merit. 14th

Jim Bentley has fostered a culture of commitment and hard work at Morecambe, and that in itself is often enough to avert relegation fears in League Two. Replacing their only consistent goalscorer, Jack Redshaw, may prove tricky, so the chance of any progression will depend on the contributions of the new attack-minded midfielders, such as Aaron Wildig and Peter Murphy. 15th

Accrington Stanley have had a reasonable summer, keeping hold of key midfielders Josh Windass and Piero Mingoia, while adding Billy Kee to their attacking options. Stanley should have enough quality to comfortably avoid relegation, but they will need to improve defensively, and solve the seemingly ongoing keeper conundrum. 16th

Given that Yeovil Town have just suffered back-to-back relegations, it would be unreasonable to expect the club to launch an instant promotion challenge. Improvements have been made in defence, with Ben Tozer and Ryan Dickson joining, but the strikers brought in all have very poor goalscoring records. A season of modest consolidation would be acceptable in the grand scheme of things. 17th

Hartlepool did well to make the great escape last season, but suggestions of a ‘Wycombe effect’ are a touch premature. The heavy turnover of the squad means it will be hard to regain momentum, and new centre-back Carl Magnay may have a hard job replacing David Mirfin. Pool will stay up comfortably, but finishing anywhere above midtable may be too much to ask of them. 18th 

AFC Wimbledon have plenty of creativity out wide, but question marks remain as to whether the new strikers Lyle Taylor and Tom Elliott can be relied upon. Manager Neal Ardley must replace midfielder Sammy Moore, whilst hoping for more luck with injuries at the back. On current evidence, there is little to suggest AFC Wimbledon have improved on last season. 19th

Despite finishing in the play-offs last season, Stevenage face a difficult season ahead. In search of more aesthetically pleasing football, the club have dispensed with the combative, hardworking players who guided the team to 6th place last season. In particular, letting go of centre-back Bira Dembele could prove a costly mistake. 20th

This season for Dagenham & Redbridge will not be without its challenges. The club have lost 3 stalwarts in Billy Bingham, Scott Doe and Abu Ogogo, and it could be hard for any player to replicate their leadership. However, Wycombe arrival Matt McClure will provide necessary competition for veteran Jamie Cureton up front, and Ashley Hemmings gives the Daggers quality out wide. They should have enough to avoid the drop. 21st

New Crawley Town manager Mark Yates has struggled to bring in new players this summer, with supporters concerned by slow summer transfer business. The ongoing speculation surrounding top scorer Izale McLeod will not help the club, while Crawley’s poor defence may take time to repair. 22nd

This could be a long season for Carlisle United in more respects than one, as 16 of their 23 away league fixtures will be located south of Northampton. A leaky defence, a shortage of goals from midfield, poor management from Keith Curle and a lack of off-field stability at the club will culminate in a relegation season. 23rd

Newport County are a club in turmoil. The 2 men who brought the club past success were manager Justin Edinburgh and chairman Les Scadding, both of whom are no longer present at Rodney Parade. New boss Terry Butcher, a man who struggled at Hibernian, has replaced the departing 11 senior squad members mainly with non-league players, and that tells its own story. 24th