5 EFL and National League teams to watch out for

The Premier League might get the most attention, but England is full of football clubs that have their own identity and interesting histories.

Unsurprisingly, the majority of clubs have aspirations of making it to the Premier League. It’s very unlikely that we’ll see these clubs on the Betfair Premier League betting market any time soon, but there’s a good chance you’ll see them rise through the English league pyramid in the near future.

Lincoln City

Currently sitting second in League Two, Lincoln made headlines two years ago when they made it to the FA Cup quarter-finals, before being defeated by Arsenal. Since that lucrative tie, Lincoln have been promoted from the National League and now look prime candidates for another promotion.

Midfielder Alex Woodyard was the only key man to exit from a squad that reached the play-offs last season, while a plethora of League One calibre players have joined. Left-back Harry Toffolo, ball-winner Michael O’Connor, left-winger Bruno Andrade and powerful front-man John Akinde have all significantly improved the first eleven.

In brothers Danny and Nicky Cowley, the Imps possess one of the most promising managerial teams in the country. The duo have had offers from the Championship but, with settled families as well as assurances of control from the board, instead look happy to commit themselves to a long-term project to try and get the club into the Championship.

Leyton Orient

At the end of the 2013-14 season, Leyton Orient were just 90 minutes away from a spot in the Championship; they led by two goals at one stage of that Play-Off Final clash with Rotherham.

Instead, penalty shoot-out heartache gave way to a dramatic reversal of fortunes as the club then suffered two relegations in three seasons during Francesco Becchetti’s ill-fated ownership regime, as their 112-year stay in the Football League ended in 2017.

Step forward Justin Edinburgh. The former Spurs player, now O’s manager, has led the club back on an upward curve and played a key role in the development of young talents.

Macaulay Bonne, who is benefiting from more game time than he received while at Colchester, is the division’s second-top scorer with 16 goals, while academy graduate Josh Koroma has an eye for the spectacular.

With just two league defeats to their name and Nigel Travis stabilizing matters off the field, they have an excellent chance of getting back into the EFL at the second attempt.

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Salford City

Since the takeover of the club by billionaire Peter Lim and the ‘Class of 92’ in 2014, Salford have been transformed from a mid-table Northern Premier League Division One team into a National League club that looks like it’ll be promoted into the Football League sooner rather than later.

In the industrious Adam Rooney, the creative Danny Lloyd and the selfless Rory Gaffney, they have three forwards who would make a reasonable case to get into a lot of first elevens two divisions above.

In Graham Alexander, meanwhile, they have a manager who has had success in the divisions above with Fleetwood and Scunthorpe.

The Ammies could perhaps do with another sprinkling of class and experience in one or two positions in defence and midfield, but will almost certainly win promotion to League Two – if not this season, then next.

Tranmere Rovers

Tranmere won promotion last season in dramatic circumstances.

Their 2017-18 outfit was perhaps not quite as impressive as the side that accrued 95 points the season before, but did not go up due to a Play-Off Final defeat to Forest Green.

The crucial difference, therefore, was that they went to Wembley with fierce determination to right the wrongs of the previous campaign; and, despite having a man sent off early on against Boreham Wood, they won 2-1 to secure a return to the EFL.

That victory, fans hope, will be the catalyst for a repeat of the late ’80s and early ’90s glory years under John King, which culminated in the Leyland DAF Cup Final defeat to Birmingham in 1991.

Micky Mellon has certainly got this current side playing with pace, energy and intent – in 15-goal man James Norwood, they have by far the division’s most consistent poacher.

MK Dons

Although MK Dons are a controversial club due to their relocation back in 2004, it should also be recognized that they do a lot of positive work for their local community.

On the field, the club are plotting a return to the Championship, the division in which they spent their 2015-16 campaign before a run of two relegations in four seasons.

Paul Tisdale though has provided the level-headed leadership required to get the club back on an upward trajectory. He has built a savvy outfit that keeps it’s shape, retains possession stringently and, in Kieran Agard, has a striker in excellent form.

The Buckinghamshire club have won nine of their last 11 league games and the division’s leaders look set to shorten their stay in the EFL’s basement tier to just a solitary season.