With just 7 games to go in the Sky Bet League 2 season, who will be on their way to League 1 and who will be falling flat in the National League next season. Also with teams stagnating in the middle, I will be looking at what the mid table clubs can do to get towards the play offs and promotion next season.
Firstly for the fight for promotion, it would be almost ridiculous to say anyone other than Northampton as winners of league 2 as they have dominated, they top league 2 by a huge 13 points. With key players such as Ricky Holmes and John Joe O’Toole, as well as a very capable manager in Chris Wilder, Northampton are assured of League 1 football next season. Prediction: 1st
Currently in 2nd place in League 2 is Oxford United, who have always been there or thereabouts all season. They have a wealth of talent with players such as Liam Sercombe and Kemar Roofe, as well as a solid defensive line. Michael Appleton has got them playing some attractive football and despite a recent slide in form Oxford are still in the hunt for an automatic promotion space. Although it may come down to the last day of the season with them just 3 points clear of 4th placed Accrington, having played a game more than all of the teams around them. Prediction 4th
3rd placed Plymouth Argyle are another side who have been there or thereabouts all season and forÂ a large part of the season were top of the league, until an injury crisis midway through the season, when players such as Graham Carey, Luke Mc Cormick and Ryan Brunt got injured. Recently the form has slipped but with 2 wins over the easter weekend, the form is returning. However with difficult games left, as well as a liability to sit back after scoring means that they may have to settle for the play offs this season. Prediction 5th
Accrington Stanley are most certainly not where they should be, with a tiny stadium and a small fanbase, it was a miracle that theyÂ have survived in League 2 for almost 10 years. This season they have been consistent, and have gone under the radar to be just 1 point outside the automatic promotion place. The star player for Accrington this season is Josh Windass who has been magnificent. I think Accrington have what it takes to finish in the automatic promotion places. Prediction: 2nd
Another team who are fighting it out for Automatic Promotion are Bristol Rovers. Under their manager Durrell Clarke, they have gone from Conference Play Off winners, to league 2 promotion candidates with a rich owner. With investment incoming Rovers have a good future prospect, as long as momentum stays with them on and off the field. With 6 wins out of their last 7 they are in form, and with Oxford and Plymouth slipping I think they will have just enough to get promoted. Prediction: 3rd
Portsmouth are known as the biggest supported club in league 2, with an average home gate of over 16,000. Like Plymouth they have had recent financial problems but have recovered and this season are looking strong. However despite their backing from the fans Portsmouth have been consistently inconsistent, with wins against teams such as Bristol Rovers and Plymouth, whilst losing 3-0 at home to Newport. For me their inconsistency will mean play offs rather than automatic promotion. Prediction: 6th
Final Play Off Place
It is a battle between Wycombe, Leyton Orient and about 5 other teams for 7th place this season. Even Cambridge in 12th place have a chance at finishing in the play offs as it is that tight in the top half of midfield. However I don’t think Cambridge or 11th place Exeter will be in the play offs as they are too inconsistent, with Exeter having a great away record, but a terrible home record
AFC Wimbledon have been a team quietly going about their business, but I think this year is one year too early for them. Play offs will be a more realistic option next season, but with a little momentum in the final games, who knows?
Carlisle are good on their day, but when they aren’t on their day they can be rubbish, so I don’t think they will finish in the top 7. I think Leyton Orient’s honeymoon period with their manager Kevin Nolan is coming to an end, but they will only just miss out on the play offs. Which means that I predict that Wycombe will finish 7th. Their style of football is totally unattractive and almost bending the rules, but it works and they have had some vital wins this season playing with this style of football. I think they are good enough to reach the play offs, but I think Portsmouth, Oxford and Plymouth will prove too strong for them.
The Relegation Battle
Dagenham and Redbridge and York are both 10 and 7 points adrift of anyone else respectively. I think Dagenham have been awful this season, having not won at home all season. They haven’t picked up anywhere near enough points and will definitely be playing national league football next season.
York are only 3 points better having played a game more, they have shown some very poor play but also a fighting spirit. They may pick up a few points in the remaining games but I think they are also doomed. But in League 2 anything can happen, but I think York’s days in League 2 are numbered.
Stevenage and Yeovil may fall into the relegation places if York have a sudden change in form but it is unlikely so both teams will probably be playing league 2 football next season.
13th placed Mansfield were up until their 3-0 defeat to Plymouth recently, playing brilliantly and were in 4th place, but a drop in form has seen them rot in mid table and going nowhere. Their manager has done a good job, but Mansfield showed that they weren’t capable of competing with the play off contenders so have fallen away.
Luton and Barnet have had mixed form this season, but as both teams were in the conference recently, another year of rebuilding is needed for both sides.
Crawley have had to adjust to life in league 2 having been relegated from League 1 last season. They have shown glimpses of good play, but also been very poor in other games. Like Notts County they are in need of reform, and a new direction is required.
Hartlepool and Newport were both in a relegation battle at the start of the season, but Warren Feeney for Newport has steadied the ship, and now Newport look a side who are difficult to beat. Hartlepool have had a brilliant rise in form and love this time of year, having similar form last season as well. Hartlepool need to start next season well if they want to push towards the top half of the table as well as the play offs.
Morecambe started the season fairly well, finding themselves in midtable but recently have fallen away and are in 20th place. Morecambe in my opinion don’t have the resources to push on, so another season next year of midtable madness is probably the most likely option.
Finally Yeovil started the season really poorly, looking almost certain to be relegated. But once Paul Sturrock was sacked, Darren Way took over and has done very well, bringing defensive stability as well as goals to huish park. Their is real hope in the somerest town that they can go for it next year, maybe finishing near the play offs.