League Two: who needs what

League Two teams have played five different numbers of games between them this season, making the table hard to dissect at times. The Football Lab has create a more accurate table that ranks teams based on their average points per game, rather than the number of points they have. This blog also looks at the number of points each team needs to reach their target for the season and the challenges they face.

Team PPG Aim Why they’ll do it Why they won’t Pts needed
1 Northampton 2.15 Title They have the league’s best keeper in Adam Smith. Taking fewer shots than the average team. 93 – 35 from 19 games

1.84PPG = -0.31

2 Plymouth 2 Title Key men such as Reuben Reid and Peter Hartley are back fit. Rank surprisingly low on expected goals statistics. 99 – 43 from 18 games

2.39PPG = +0.39

3 Oxford 1.89 Automatic promotion Proven in cup competitions they are good enough to play at a higher level. They draw a lot of games they should win. 81 – 30 from 19 games

1.58PPG = -0.31

4 Accrington 1.75 Automatic promotion They do not lose many games when Tom Davies plays. A fixture pile-up could cause fatigue. 87 – 45 from 22 games

2.05PPG = +0.30

5 Portsmouth 1.69 Automatic promotion Large budget means they can bring in quality new players at any point. Struggle to break the more defensive teams down at home. 87 – 43 from 20 games

2.15PPG = +0.46

6 Bristol Rovers 1.68 Automatic promotion They have competed well against their promotion rivals recently. Their midfielders do not score enough goals. 87 – 40 from 18 games

2.22PPG = +0.54

7 Carlisle 1.56 Play-offs They pose a goal threat with strong forward options The defence has not gelled. 72 – 33 from 21 games

1.57PPG = +0.01

8 AFC Wimbledon 1.55 Play-offs Getting more clinical in front of goal, Lyle Taylor proving a good signing. They are short of cover, particularly in central midfield. 72 – 30 from 19 games

1.58PPG = +0.03

9 Wycombe 1.54 Play-offs Well-organized and proficient at set pieces. Their strikers don’t provide much of a goal threat. 72 – 32 from 20 games

1.6 PPG = +0.06

10 Leyton Orient 1.54 Play-offs New player-manager Kevin Nolan has given the team a lift. The club is still cutting costs after relegation. 72 – 29 from 18 games

1.61PPG = +0.07

11 Mansfield 1.46 Play-offs Adam Murray has got the fans on side. Start games slowly and struggle against their play-off rivals. 72 – 31 from 18 games

1.72PPG = +0.26

12 Exeter 1.37 Play-offs A squad with the experience and quality worthy of the top seven. Fans divided on Paul Tisdale. 72 – 35 from 19 games

1.84PPG = +0.47

13 Cambridge 1.36 Play-offs They invested big in the summer. Barry Corr out for the rest of the season. 72 – 34 from 18 games

1.89PPG = +0.53

14 Morecambe 1.30 Top half Only Northampton have scored more goals this season. They have a woeful defence and struggle to bring players in. 59 – 24 from 19 games

1.26PPG = -0.04

15 Notts Co 1.27 Top half Adam Campbell provides pace and Stanley Aborah can boss a midfield. Their defence struggles without an aging Mike Edwards. 59 – 26 from 20 games

1.3 PPG = +0.03

16 Luton 1.26 Top half Squad has quality and Nathan Jones may oversee a honeymoon period. They have lost more games than they have won. 59 – 25 from 19 games

1.32PPG = +0.06

17 Crawley 1.21 Top half A strong, physical side with an impressive home record. Struggled for goals since Rhys Murphy left. 59 – 25 from 18 games

1.39PPG = +0.18

18 Barnet 1.18 Top half John Akinde firing, defence stronger now Bira Dembele is back fit. Lack creativity in midfield. 59 – 25 from 18 games

1.39PPG = +0.18

19 Stevenage 1 Avoid relegation Signings. Lee Cox adds midfield steel, Jamie Jones a good keeper. Not strong enough without the ball, awful defensive record. 40 – 12 from 18 games

0.67PPG = -0.33

20 Hartlepool 1 Avoid relegation Beaten teams around them, keeper Trevor Carson playing well. They recruited poorly in the summer, do not score enough. 40 – 16 from 22 games

0.73PPG = -0.27

21 Newport 0.89 Avoid relegation Club now stable, return of former captain Darren Jones provides a lift. Squad has players with careers based in non-league. 40 – 16 from 19 games

0.84PPG = -0.05

22 Yeovil 0.74 Avoid relegation Darren Way right appointment, galvanized the club. Ryan Bird is their only substantial source of goals. 40 – 20 from 19 games

1.05PPG = +0.31

23 Dag & Red 0.74 Avoid relegation New manager John Still loves the club, Jodi Jones is a bright talent. Midfield lacks mobility, defence leaks goals. 40 – 20 from 19 games

1.05PPG = +0.31

24 York 0.65 Avoid relegation Signings. Daniel Galbraith and Bradley Fewster look dangerous. Jackie McNamara has changed too much, fans unconvinced. 40 – 23 from 20 games

1.15PPG = +0.5

Northampton and Plymouth are running away with promotion and look set to battle it out for the title, with Oxford United being the team most likely to join them in League One next season. Portsmouth, who set very clear ambitions of promotion in pre-season, might have to target success in the play-offs, unless they can acquire well over 2 points per game between now and May.

The race for the play-offs could be hugely entertaining. There is already very little to chose between Carlisle, Wycombe, AFC Wimbledon and Leyton Orient, so those four teams will hope four one of the automatic promotion chasers have a dip in form, to open up a couple of slots. Mansfield, Exeter and Cambridge will believe they have an outside chance.

At around March time, it will become clear to some of the current play-off chasers that they cannot get into the top seven. It is fair to predict that some of the midtable teams will drop off in the latter stages. For that reason, this blog has taken the number of points required from a top half finish 5 points down from the projected tally of 64 down to 59, with midtable sides having little to play.

Equally, we can expect the teams now battling relegation to improve, as they fight to save their Football League status. If the form of the bottom three stays the same, just 35 points will be enough to stay up. However, apart from last season, the teams down at the bottom tend to perform better at the business end of the season, so York, Dagenham & Redbridge and Yeovil will target 40 points. Whatever happens, we can be sure that League Two will remain as fun and unpredictable as ever.