Wednesday, 31 July 2013

League Two 2013/2014 Preview,

Come one, come all as The Daggers Scale takes its annual stab at trying to analyse how each of the 24 teams in League Two will do in the coming season. This year there's more information than ever with analysis, transfers, fan opinions and odds all waiting for you to consume. So sit tight and enjoy the smorgasbord of information I've put together for your enjoyment. As always feel free to agree or disagree with my opinion.

Accrington Stanley

Players In: Rob Atkinson (CB), Shay McCartan (ST), Nicky Hunt (RB), Josh Windass (MF), Danny Webber (ST).

Players Out: Romuald Boco, Bohan Dixon, Charlie Bennett, Amine Linganzi, Aiden Chippendale, Tom Eckersley, Craig Lindfield, Lee Molyneux, Padraig Amond.

Key man Boco has left.

So we kick off with Accrington, and out of everyone this season I fear for them most. With minimal transfer incomings and some key players in the likes of Romauld Boco heading away from the Crown Ground, it could be a baptism of fire for James Beattie who takes the hotseat for his first managerial foray. With no real long term successor since legend John Coleman’s departure in January 2012, Stanley will be hoping Beattie provides the results and security needed to ensure the Lancastrian outfit remain in the Football League. New signing Danny Webber will be key if they’re to maintain their Football League status, but without a talismanic player like Francis Jeffers, whom they coaxed into joining last year and whose performances ultimately saw Stanley survive; it could be a long season ahead. 

What the fan says: @Stanley_OSC: "A slightly different summer for Stanley with James Beattie taking over the managerial hot-seat. The first thing James has done is to get the majority of the squad signed back up, whilst bringing in a mixture of youth and experience including Rob Atkinson and Danny Webber who will give us more steel and spark. As always for Stanley it’s a case of defying the odds, but I think we will surprise a few teams and I’ll be looking for a top half finish come the end of the season."

Murphy's Best Bet: Accrington to finish bottom, best priced 7/1 at Ladbrokes.

AFC Wimbledon

Players In: George Porter (ST), Callum Kennedy (LB), Charlie Sheringham (ST), Barry Fuller (RB), Chris Arthur (LM), Ross Worner (GK), George Francombe (RB), Ashley Bayes (GK), Andy Frampton (LB), Max Noble (LW), Michael Smith (Loan ST). 

Players Out: Jason Prior, Warren Cummings, Huw Johnson, Mat Mitchell-King, Rashid Yussuf, Stacy Long, Frankie Merrifield, Pim Balkenstein, Chris Hussey, Kelly Youga, Curtis Osano, Mikhael Jaimez-Ruiz, Louis Harris.

After last season’s brush with relegation, the Dons will be hoping for a calmer campaign this time around. The main problem for Neal Ardley’s side was their excessively leaky defence, which conceded 76 goals through the course of the season, the highest in the league. Former Gills left back Andy Frampton and Norwich right back George Francombe have been brought in to address that problem as the Dons look to tighten their ship. Key forward Jack Midson remains and will be assisted by the signing of Burnley forward George Porter on loan. The London based outfit will be looking for a season of improvement this time around with a stronger squad, but whether that will materialise I'm not so sure.

What the fan says: @MattMightSay: "After a tense 2012-2013 season that would almost certainly have seen us relegated were it not for Neal Ardley’s squad overall, things are now looking brighter at Kingsmeadow. Expect the Dons to play with a different style to last year as Ardley tries out a new formation. For Dons fans though, most seem confident of a mid-table finish, and that should keep most of us smiling. But most importantly this season, we should learn more details of our return to Merton. Fingers crossed."

Murphy's Best Bet: Jack Midson League Two top goalscorer 25/1 at Coral.

Bristol Rovers

Players In: Steve Mildenhall (GK), John-Joe O’Toole (MF).

Players Out: Scott Bevan, Joe Anyinsah, Adam Virgo, Oumare Tounkara, Ross Staley.

Despite not making much of a splash in the transfer window, Rovers are looking quietly confident of ending their disastrous spell in the basement division of English football. The signing of creative midfielder John-Joe O’Toole from Colchester by boss John Ward looks likely to be a masterstroke. O’Toole lit up the league in his loan spell at The Mem last season and alongside promising midfielders Oliver Norburn and youngster Ellis Harrison the trio could prove potent. Despite that, Rovers have been dealt an early blow with the news that Fabien Broghammer will miss the majority of the campaign. Regardless, Rovers have a squad that should be towards the top half of the table with a probable play-off push on the cards. 

What the fan says: @HarddToBeatt: "We have a very young squad and while that is an exciting prospect for Gasheads, it means we’re all quite reluctant to make bold predictions. However the permanent signings of Steve Mildenhall and John-Joe O’Toole to strengthen the spine of the team has given us real belief. If we can shake off the injury curse we endured last season then I think the top 7 is a realistic aim. We have a few starlets on our hands, but look out for homegrown winger Ellis Harrison who signed a new 3 year deal this summer. He’s got pace and skill, he’s direct and he isn't afraid to shoot, he could become very important for us."

Murphy's Best Bet: Bristol Rovers to make the play-offs available at 10/3 with Ladbrokes.

Burton Albion

Players In: Rory Delap (RW), Rene Howe (ST), Chris Hussey (LB), Alex MacDonald (RM), Phil Edwards (CB), Ian Sharps (CB), Michael Symes (ST), Adam Reed (CM).

Players Out: John McGrath, Stuart Tomlinson, Nathan Stanton, Calvin Zola, Aaron Webster, Cleveland Taylor, Evan Garnett, Adi Yussuf, Jack Green, Jacques Maghoma, Andy Corbett.

After last season’s play off agony, the Brewers will be looking to go one better this time around. With the impressive signings of Rene Howe, Michael Symes and Ian Sharps to replace the outgoing Nathan Stanton, Jacques Maghoma and Calvin Zola; Gary Rowett has recruited well through the summer. Even with key losses the Brewers retain a strong squad that should be capable of going for the play-offs and possibly automatic promotion once more. 

What the fan says: @AdamBAFCdrew: "Last season was regarded by Burton fans as the greatest ever. We were one of the favourites to go down but ultimately finished 4th before losing out in the play-offs. Whether we can do it a second time, without Jacques Maghoma and Calvin Zola, remains to be seen.. We have had so many changes to the squad, moreover I think we'll be one of the sides that teams want to beat. I still think we will finish in the top half of a very tough league though. Rene Howe and Rory Delap are the two to look out for, and they're the two who have excited fans."

Murphy's Best Bet: Burton to reach the play-offs, available at 4/1 with Ladbrokes.


Players In: Anton Forrester (Loan, ST), Richard Hinds (CB), Reice Charles-Cook (GK), John Rooney (AM), Chris Sedgwick (RW), Rob Lainton (GK), Gareth Roberts (LB), Greg McDermott (CM), Nathan Cameron (CB), Ashley Grimes (AM), Andy Proctor (CM), Jessy Reindorf (ST), Marlon Jackson (ST), Shaun Beeley (Loan RB), Aidan Chippendale (LM).

Players Out: Andy Bishop, Craig Fagan, Mark Hughes, Valery Mezague, Max Harrop, Jordan Melia, Mark Carrington, Joe Skarz, David Healy, Carl Regan, Christian Dibble, Cameron Belford, Marcus Marshall, David Worrall, Steven Schumacher, Efe Sodje.

With ongoing financial worries behind the scenes last season, relegation from League One was the least of Bury’s problems. With that all sorted, Kevin Blackwell has been busy in the transfer market trying to find players capable of lifting the Shakers up to the third tier once more. Ashley Grimes and Chris Sedgwick both look to be smart acquisitions and will soften the blow of club captain Steven Schumacher leaving for Fleetwood. Anton Forrester on loan from Blackburn should accompany the experienced Shaun Harrad going forward as Gigg Lane prepares for a possible play-off push.

What the fan says: @Tommy_Ankers: "It will be hard to judge how we’ll do this season until we get at least 10 to 15 games in, as you will have seen we've had to build a whole new squad and we’re still 3 or 4 players short. I do think we’ll have a slow start which is what you’d expect while the whole team gels. Hopefully we see some improvement from last season and end the year with something we can build on. I haven’t seen any of the pre-season games, but Tom Soares (who should really be playing in a higher league), Shaun Harrad and Richard Hinds all interest me."

Murphy's Best Bet: Bury to finish in the top half of the table, available at 7/4 with SkyBet.

Cheltenham Town

Players In: Craig Braham-Barrett (Loan, LB), Ashley Vincent (ST), Terry Gornell (ST), Matt Richards (CM), Jamie Cureton (ST), Troy Brown (CB), Ed Williams & Joe Hanks (Academy CMs).

Players Out: Darren Carter, Bagasan Graham, Harry Hooman, Darryl Duffy, Kaid Mohamed, Marlon Pack.

Cheltenham have cemented themselves as one of the most consistent outfits in the league in recent years. Under the continued stewardship of entrepreneurial manager Mark Yeats, the Robins have reached and ultimately failed in the play-offs in each of the last two seasons. Despite the media furore surrounding Marlon Pack’s departure, he wasn't at his best last season and as such may not be as big a loss as some are making out. Four very good players have arrived at Whaddon Road, in particular forward Jamie Cureton and attacking midfielder Ashley Vincent who scored five and assisted seven as Port Vale cruised to promotion last season. It may be tougher this time around, but expect the Gloucestershire outfit to make the play-offs once more come May.

What the fan says: @MaxiHobbs: "Expectations amongst supporters are high. After two near misses and double play-off heartbreak fans are expecting a promotion challenge. With some impressive signings over the summer, including Jamie Cureton and midfielder Matt Richards, we've every reason to believe this could be our year."

Murphy's Best Bet: Jamie Cureton to be top goalscorer, available at 20/1 with PaddyPower.


Players In: Matty Brown (CM), Ritchie Humphreys (CM/CB), Eoin Doyle (ST), Jimmy Ryan (CM), Gary Roberts (LW), Aaron Chapman (GK), Sam Morsy (RM), Ian Evatt (DF), Ryan Edwards (Loan CB), Jamie Devitt (RM). 

Players Out: Richard O’Donnell, Jonathan Wafalu, Craig Clay, Scott Boden, Richard Brindley, Jacob Hazel (Loan), Neal Trotman, Danny Whitaker, Jack Waddle, Mark Randall, Jack Lester.

One of two sides that are expected to do very well this season, Chesterfield have recruited admirably during the summer break. The signing of former Blackpool defender Ian Evatt in particular shows their clout, whilst winger Gary Roberts is undoubtedly one of the purchases of the window. But with just three recognised forwards on their books, the onus will fall on Marc Richards to lead the line. Paul Cook and Leam Richardson have linked up once more after their respective managerial spells at Accrington and will be looking to take the Spireites out of the division they escaped from three years ago. 

What the fan says: @ashleybillyeald: "On paper we have the strongest team in the league, but the game isn't played on paper so it’ll be interesting to see how the new signings work together. I think we have a good chance of securing automatic promotion even if we don’t win the league. Our one to watch is Gary Roberts, he’s a good attacking winger with bundles of skill and he’s not afraid to take players on, he’s just the sort of man we've been looking for. Jimmy Ryan however is definitely the strongest link in the middle of park and he’ll cause teams a lot of problems."

Murphy's Best Bet: Chesterfield to win the league, available at 9/1 with UniBet.

Dagenham & Redbridge

Players In: Afolabi Obafemi (ST), Jack Connors (Academy LB), Rhys Murphy (ST), Brian Saah (CB).

Players Out: Sam Williams, Kevin Maher, Dominic Green, Ben Strevens, Andrew Burns, Duran Reynolds, Jonathan Fortune.

Daggers new manager, Wayne Burnett

It’s out of the frying pan and into the fire for Wayne Burnett who will begin his first full campaign as Dagenham & Redbridge boss next Saturday away at Fleetwood Town. Taking over from long serving manager John Still last March, Burnett oversaw just two victories as Daggers avoided relegation by just five goals over London rivals Barnet. If they’re to survive again this term, their home record of just two wins since January must be significantly improved. Goalscoring has been another key issue since Dwight Gayle's departure, but Daggers fans will be hoping former Arsenal striker Rhys Murphy puts an end to that problem. If those two issues aren't addressed, it’s going to be a fourth consecutive season of fighting the drop for Daggers fans.

What the fan says: @LeeWilsonDRFC: "It looks like being a tough year for the Daggers. After narrowly avoiding relegation the previous season, a lack of a goalscorer looks like being our undoing once again. Although youngsters Rhys Murphy and Abi Obafemi have looked good in patches, whether they offer consistent goals is another thing. However, young left back Jack Connors has impressed in pre season whilst new centre back Brian Saah adds real competition to the back line. Nevertheless, it looks like being another battle against the drop for the Daggers this season."

Murphy's Best Bet: Dagenham & Redbridge to finish bottom, available at 7/1 with BetVictor.

Exeter City 

Players In: Sam Parkin (ST), Doug Bergqvist (CB).

Players Out: Doug Bergqvist (Loan), Steve Tully, Jamie Cureton, Rhys Evans, Mark Molesley, Kevin Amankwaah, Guillem Bauza, Elliott Frear.

Exeter are usually one of the sides that are always round about the promotion places. They proved that last term until an end of season collapse saw them miss out on the play-offs by five points. This season however could be more of a struggle. With several key players forced into exodus due to a lack of funding at St James Park, the Grecians are a markedly weaker side. The biggest loss will undoubtedly be 21 goal hit-man Jamie Cureton, who’s upped sticks in favour of a move east to Cheltenham Town. With a squad of just 22 at the time of writing, the West Country outfit will be increasingly reliant on youth prospects such as Jake Gosling and as a result will find a play-off push a lot harder this time around.

What the fan says: @ecfc32: "I think we've got the potential to do well, but like last season we’ll end up just missing out on the play-offs. Our one to watch is 19 year old winger Jake Gosling. He’s got so much going for him at the moment and I think he could be our, ‘next big thing!’

Murphy's Best Bet: Exeter to be the top Devon club, available at 2/1 with StanJames.

Fleetwood Town

Players In: Steven Schumacher (CM), Stephen Jordan (LB), Mark Roberts (CB), Jeff Hughes (LM), Stewart Murdoch (DM), Matty Blair (CM), Loam Hogan (CB), Antoni Sarcevic (AM), Ryan Cresswell (CB) Richard Wright & Jake Parker (Academy CMs).

Players Out: Chris Maxwell, Shaun Beeley & Alex Titchiner (Loans), Rob Atkinson, Danny Rose, Ritchie Allen, Kieran Charnock, Mozzi Gyorio, Andy Mangan, Barry Nicholson, Danny Rowe, Jamie McGuire, Jean-Michel Fontaine, Liam Wynn, Jamie Milligan, Anthony Barry, Youl Mawene. 

Schumacher puts Fleetwood
in pole position.

If the league was positioned by financial clout and who teams have signed on paper, along with one or two others Fleetwood would runaway with automatic promotion. But it’s not, as former manager Mickey Mellon found out last season. The Cod have recruited well over the summer to strengthen their promotion credentials, the signing of Steven Schumacher from Bury being the standout. With David Ball, Jamille Matt and Jon Parkin already at Highbury to accompany the new arrivals, we can expect Graham Alexander’s men to mount a serious promotion challenge this time around.

What the fan says: @Sam_Heaney: "I think we will be up near the top this season. The season will be considered a disappointment if we fail to make the play-offs at the very least. We have signed some terrific players and have looked good in pre-season, with two comfortable wins against League One opposition. Make sure to look out for midfielder Antoni Sarcevic, Steven Schumacher and David Ball."

Murphy's Best Bet: Fleetwood to gain promotion, available at 7/4 with SportingBet.

Hartlepool United

Players In: Jack Compton (LW), Nialle Rodney (ST), Christian Burgess (Loan CB), Brad Walker (Academy CM).

Players Out: Ritchie Humphreys, Evan Horwood, Nathan Luscombe, Paul Johnson, Nathan Buddle, Colin Nish, Adam McHugh.

Do it for Jeff, lads.
It’s been something of a disappointing summer for Hartlepool with only winger Jack Compton and unproven striker Nialle Rodney joining the club. That compared with seven outgoings, including captain Ritchie Humphreys, signals a year of stabilisation in League Two under new manager Colin Cooper. Their main problem will be goalscoring, with no prolific centre forward on the books at Victoria Park. With a largely solid defence and midfield and consistent goalkeeper Scott Flinders to call upon, the forward position could be a sticking point if Stelling’s boys are to advance further up the League Two ladder.

What the fan says: @Forbesie10: "Many fans will disagree with me and will expect promotion, but after the calamity of last season and the board's refusal of a much needed clear out, I think our first priority is to steady the ship and make sure we don't turn this season into another struggling one. I will be extremely satisfied with a top 10 finish! How do you solve a problem like Steve Howard? Last season he was the big signing who turned into being an embarrassing flop and publicly stated he did not want to play for us. After failing to get rid of him, he has been handed the number 9 shirt and told to lead from the front! A frightening thought indeed! Look out for Luke James, a very promising youngster who has yet to really show his true potential! League 2 should be more his level! And not forgetting Jack Baldwin, another excellent young midfielder/defender who has a bright future ahead of him! One of the few players last season to consistently perform at a high level. Well above League 2 standard."

Murphy's Best Bet: Hartlepool to finish in the bottom half, available at 7/4 with SkyBet.

Mansfield Town

Players In: Jamie McGuire (CM), Keiran Murtagh (LM), Martin Riley (CB), Ian Deakin (GK), Paul Black (LB), John McCombe (CB), Sam Clucas (LM).

Players Out: Gary Roberts (Loan), Jamie Hand, Stuart Redmond, Matt Green, Jamie Tolley, Nick Wright, Andy Owens, Paul Bolland, Luke Jones, Exodus Geohaghan, Andy Todd.

After rampaging to the Conference title last season with a winning run that at one stage stood at 12 on the bounce, Mansfield will be looking to reassert themselves in League Two after a five year absence. Teams that end the season well in the Conference tend to start brightly in the league and that should be the case here, with the Stags looking at a mid-table position by the end of September. Transfer wise they've not been very vocal. Impressive forward Matt Green who scored 40 times for the Stags has departed as expected, and as yet no replacement has been found. Therefore Jake Speight will likely start as the central striker with new signing Sam Clucas pulling the creative strings in midfield. I think it could be more difficult for Mansfield than some think, and as such will put them down as scrapping against relegation for the majority of the season.  

What the fan says: @92_jackrich: "After steam rolling to the Blue Square Bet Premier Title last season after an unbelievable run of results after Christmas, Mansfield are finally back in the Football League. In our first season back I see us sustaining a respectable mid table finish due to our usual poor starts to seasons under Paul Cox; however with a good start and a good festive period we could attain a top half finish. Our one to watch is Sam Clucas, signed from Hereford he has been on fire in Pre Season, he’s a young lad with bags of ability."

Murphy's Best Bet: Mansfield to finish in the bottom half, available at 4/5 with SkyBet.


Players In: Mark Hughes (CB), Marcus Marshall (RW), Tony Diagne (LB), Jack Sampson (ST), Alex Kenyon (LW), Aaron McGowan (Academy CM), Will Bell (Academy CB).

Players Out: Jordan Burrow, Dan Parkinson, Gary McDonald, Chris Holroyd, Will Haining, Jamie Short, Lewis Alessandra, Danny Carlton.

Redshaw will be a big blow.

Morecambe are an intriguing side. Despite losing several key players over the summer, they've recruited fairly well bringing in the solid Tony Diagne and Marcus Marshall who is experienced at this level. The big blow for them however is that talismanic centre forward Jack Redshaw has been ruled out for five months of the 2013/2014 campaign after sustaining an injury during pre-season. His 17 goals last season helped the Shrimps finish comfortably in mid-table, in his absence the Lancastrian outfit will be relying even more on star player Kevin Ellison. My instincts tell me that Jim Bentley’s side will ultimately be fine, but not without a struggle early on in the season. 

What the fan says: @AdamLordLM : "Bookmakers are taking their usual dim view of Morecambe's chances in League 2 this season. Boss Jim Bentley has however recruited well on a reduced budget bringing in a younger crop of players to replace some of the club's higher earners. The Shrimps have been dealt a major blow on the eve of the season however with the news that star front man Jack Redshaw will be out for up to five months after having hip surgery. Kevin Ellison will be looked upon to fill some of the void left by last season's top scorer with the Globe Arena faithful also hoping goalscoring midfielder Andy Fleming can fulfil his potential in style."

Murphy's Best Bet: Morecambe to finish in the top half, available at 6/1 with SkyBet.

Newport County

Players In: Jamie Stephens (GK), Harry Worley (CB), Adam Chapman (CB), Chris Zebroski (ST), James Bittner (Loan GK), Ryan Jackson (RB). 

Players Out: Jake Harris, Joe Perry, Jake Thomson, Ben Swallow, Michael Boateng, Scott Donnelly, Alan Julian, Rhys Griffiths. 

Justin Edinburgh
After 25 years in exile, the Exiles are, well, back (albeit in a new form). May’s 2-0 play-off final victory capped a remarkable rise for Newport and put the cherry on top of an astonishing year for Welsh football. But now they’re here, they’ll want to stay and in the process avoid being the first club ever to be relegated immediately after promotion from the Conference. Even with a largely experienced squad, I have my doubts over whether they will succeed in that aim. One thing is for sure however and that is with highly rated manager Justin Edinburgh in charge they’ll be targeting a mid table finish if they can avoid relegation.

What the fan says: @Lauralizbethh: "I think Newport will do well in League Two in the coming season. Many seem to underestimate County and assume we’ll struggle, but in my opinion we have a strong enough squad and ambitious management to ensure we do more than just stay up. Our player to look out for is without a doubt, former Wimbledon midfielder Chris Jolley. Expect Aaron O’Connor and Andy Sandell to shine as well."

Murphy's Best Bet: Newport to be relegated, available at 7/1 with BetVictor.

Northampton Town

Players In: Darren Carter (CM), Ian Morris (LM), Matt Duke (GK), JJ Hooper (ST), Gary Deegan (MF), Kevin Amankwaah (DF), Ivan Toney & Ben Heath (Academy). 

Players Out: Ben Harding, Jake Robinson, Luke Guttridge, Nana Ofori-Twumasi, Adebayo Akinfenwa, Paul Turnbull, Louis Moult, John Jackson, Lewis Wilson, Clarke Carlisle.

Sixfields away stand
Another side that will aim to be in and around the play-off picture come the end of the season are Northampton Town. After their near miss in the play-offs last season, Aidy Boothroyd has admitted his side are short of goals following the departure of fans favourite Bayo Akinfenwa. With their direct style, Cobblers fans will be hoping to continue their fantastic home record of last season which saw them pick up 17 victories at Sixfields. Kevin Amankwaah has recently joined to shore up the defence following Clarke Carlisle’s retirement, whilst favoured personnel Chris Hackett and Kelvin Langmead remain. With a lot more depth of quality in the league this season, I can see a mid table finish for the Cobblers.

What the fan says: @Tejay94: "The aim for Aidy Boothroyd this season will naturally be to secure promotion. Cobblers fans will be optimistic of a good season following a good pre-season in which a decent Leicester City side were beaten, although the general consensus is that the squad remains light at this stage.It remains to be seen whether Bayo Akinfenwa and his goals can be replaced as no 'recognised' striker has been brought in, only JJ Hooper, formerly of Darlington and Workington has boosted the attacking options. If we’re to go one further this season we’ll have to do much better on the road, we had one of the worst away records last season which cost us dear. Promotion will be far from a formality for the Cobblers this season, but it can definitely be achieved."

Murphy's Best Bet: Northampton to make the play-offs, available at 7/2 with Ladbrokes.

Oxford United

Players In: Tom Newey (LB), Josh Ruffels (CM), Johnny Mullins (CB), Asa Hall (RM), Danny Rose (RM), Jonathan Meades (LB), David Hunt (CM), Dave Kitson (ST), Josh Shama (RW), Callum O’Dowda (Academy LM), David Lynn (Academy LB), Sam Long (Academy CB).

Players Out: Justin Richards, Damien Batt, Harry Worley, Jon Paul-Pittman, Peter Leven, Michael Duberry, Adam Chapman, Wayne Brown, Luke McCormick, Toni Capaldi, Simon Heslop, Tom Craddock, Josh Parker, Liam Davis, Luke O’Brien.

Another side that have bought well in the close season are Oxford United. Chris Wilder, League Two’s second longest serving manager has acted to replace Tom Craddock up front by bringing in former Premier League striker Dave Kitson. Star midfielder Peter Leven is an undoubted loss amongst a major overhaul of the U’s squad, yet Wilder’s men retain a strong midfield ahead of the new season. The long term goal for Oxford remains to gain promotion to League One and with some fans having doubts over the managers credentials, Wilder will be even more determined this season to lead the U’s out of the basement division. With such a small squad though, any potential long term injuries could blight their campaign. 

What the fan says: @OllieWilliams33: "I think what all Oxford fans want this season is promotion, or at the very least the play offs having failed to achieve this feat in the last couple of seasons. The summer signings of forward, Dave Kitson who has Premier League experience and Johnny Mullins along with Jake Wright will form one of the best centre-back pairings in the league in my opinion. We have strengthened significantly enough at both ends of the field to be in and around the automatic promotion picture at the end of the season."

Murphy's Best Bet: James Constable to be League Two top goalscorer, available at 33/1 with PaddyPower.

Plymouth Argyle

Players In: Romuald Boco (RM/ST), Luke McCormick (GK), Lewis Alessandra (ST), Dominic Blizzard (CM), Marvin Morgan (ST), Reuben Reid (Loan ST), Andre Blackman (LB),Tyler Harvey (Academy ST), Ben Purrington (Academy LB).

Players Out: Rene Gilmartin, Ollie Chenoweth, Warren Feeney, Jared Sims, Onismor Bhasera, Jamie Lowry, Anthony Charles, Paris Cowan-Hall.

The Green Army
After years of struggle at the wrong end of the table, Argyle can finally contemplate a season where it doesn't all go wrong. Like so many clubs, the green army narrowly avoided relegation last term following the arrival of new manager John Sheridan. With his appointment came renewed optimism and that same optimism has translated into the new season with Plymouth fans hoping for a possible play-off push. They've done well over the summer, signing experienced League Two players like prolific forward Marvin Morgan, whilst shedding their deadweight. Despite all of this, I think it may be a year too early for Argyle who will just miss out on a play-off spot come May.

What the fan says: @DaveWeeks16:  "I think we'll do ok this season, a lot better than the past few anyway. Flirting with play-offs is the best we can hope for. Our man to watch is Conor Hourihane (our captain) he’s only 22 but continues to grow stronger, I think he'll do well in midfield, moreover he’ll be able to advance forward more now following the signing of Dominic Blizzard. Marvin Morgan could also do well for us; he’s tall and has experience of this league. Meanwhile Luke McCormick in goal will certainly bring us more clean sheets, in my opinion."

Murphy's Best Bet: Plymouth to finish as the best placed Devon club, 7/1 at ToteSport.


Players In: Patrick Agyemang (ST), Ricky Holmes (ST), John Sullivan (GK), Sonny Bradley (LB), Tom Craddock (ST), Andy Barcham (LW), Danny East (CB), Joe Devera (CB), Bradley Tarduck (RW), Simon Ferry (MF), Ryan Bird (ST), Liam Triggs (Academy RB), Josh Warren (Academy CB), George Branford (Academy CM).

Players Out: Alex Grant, Simon Eastwood, Elliot Wheeler, Gabor Gyepes, John Akinde, Liam Walker, Dan Thompson, Sam Sodje, George Colson. 

The biggest club with arguably the biggest fanbase, the majority expect Portsmouth to make a comfortable return to League One by the end of this season. Having signed the cream of the League Two crop over the summer it’s hard to disagree with them really. Guy Whittingham has pulled a real rabbit out of the hat by coaxing Simon Ferry into signing, whilst Tom Craddock will be expecting to continue his good goalscoring form from his Oxford days. With their ability to sign players on longer deals, Pompey should have more cohesion, familiarity and experience this season which will ensure them of a play-off place at the very least if not automatic promotion. 

What the fan says: @FrattonFaithful: "After a dire few seasons that comprised two relegations and two administrations, the Pompey Supporters' Trust now own the club and there is a sense of optimism around Fratton Park. The fans are happy with the manager and most of the squad that finished last season with a flourish has been retained. Jed Wallace is the one to watch after he shone in League One last season and the front two of Patrick Agyemang and David Connolly should cause many League Two defences some problems. With so many new signings it might take the team some time to gel so automatic promotion may be out of the question and we'll have to settle for the play-offs, which would still be a good achievement after the last few years."

Murphy's Best Bet: Portsmouth to win the league, available at 5/1 with Coral.

Rochdale AFC

Players In: Robbie Thomson (GK), Javan Vidal (RB), Jack O’Connell (Loan CB), Matt Done (LW), Bastien Hery (DM), Scott Hogan (RM), Ashley Eastham (CB), Olly Lancashire (CB), Peter Vincenti (ST), Matthew Lund (CM), Robbie Thomson (GK), Allen, Logan, Tanser, O’Conner (Academy).

Players Out: Bobby Grant, Terry Gornell, Jason Kennedy, Dele Adebola, Craig Curran, Luke Watson, Andy Haworth, Kevin McIntyre, Matthew Pearson, Matty Edwards, Sam Minihan, Ashley Grimes, Ritchie Jones, Neil Byrne, Phil Edwards.

After last season’s disappointing campaign, overshadowed by John Coleman’s sacking and Bobby Grant’s alleged racist remarks directed at Gavin Hoyte, Rochdale will be looking forward to a more straight forward season this time around. With Keith Hill serving his second sentence, tenure as Dale boss, supporters of the Spotland outfit can hope for a more upwardly mobile season than last term. With a solid defence to call upon, Dale’s main problem is likely to be goalscoring with several key forward players departing the club over the summer break. Despite all of that, youngster Joe Bunney who scored on his debut in April could make a breakthrough as Dale aim for the play-off spots.

What the fan says: @deanothedalefan: "Quietly confident is the best way to describe the mood at Spotland going into the new season. We've got a crop of young exciting players that have bags of potential and the general consensus within the fanbase is that top 7 is a real possibility. Personally, I think we’ll just miss out on the play-offs, but we’ll be hard to beat and the fans will be behind Keith Hill all the way with his history at Dale. The players in the attacking midfield positions will be key for us – Matty Done and Ian Henderson are very dangerous at this level."

Murphy's Best Bet: Rochdale to make the play-offs, available at 7-2 with Ladbrokes.

Scunthorpe United

Players In: Dean Burton (ST), Sean McAllister (CM), Etienne Esajas (LW), Matt Sparrow (RW), Andy Welsh (LM), Andy Dawson (LB), Luke Waterfall (CB), Terry Hawkridge (MF), Chris Iwelumo (ST), Sam Winnall (ST), Jamie Wootton, Luke Hornsey, George Grayson, Hakeeb Adelakun (Academy).

Players Out: Josh Walker, Akpo Sodje, Mark Duffy, Tom Newey, Callum Kennedy, Robbie Gibbons, Damien Mozika, Andy Barcham, Karl Hawley, Jimmy Ryan, Paul Reid, Mike Grella.

Recently relegated from League One, Scunthorpe can perhaps be considered the dark horses for promotion from League Two. Manager Brian Laws has moved well in the transfer market, signing up experienced pros like Andy Dawson and Chris Iwelumo to compliment creative players such as Etienne Esajas formerly of Sheffield Wednesday and youngster Connor Jennings. After years of struggle both on and off the pitch, it should be a calmer season at Glanford Park this time around with the play-offs looking like a distinct probability. 

What the fan says: @AidanMcCartney: "With ten summer arrivals at Glanford Park Laws has led a reunion of sorts as the Iron try to bounce back to League One at the first attempt. Midfielder Matt Sparrow has returned after three seasons away while defender Andy Dawson has re-joined nearly 10 years on following a hugely successful spell with Hull City. Experienced front-men Chris Iwelumo and Deon Burton have been recruited as Laws puts together a workable mix of youth and experience. Play-offs look to be a realistic aim for the side if we can unearth a proper goalscorer and sort out our problematic home form. Our one to watch is Terry Hawkridge, a 23 year old summer signing from Gainsborough Trinity. Big things are expected in North Lincolnshire for the winger as we look to replace the creativity of Mark Duffy."

Murphy's Best Bet: Scunthorpe to gain promotion, available at 4/1 with BetVictor.

Southend United

Players In: Ben Coker (LM), Will Atkinson (LM), John White (LB), Mitchell Pinnock ( Academy LW), Ryan Auger (Academy RM).

Players Out: Ryan Cresswell (CB), Alex Woodyard (CM), Mickey Spillane (CB/CM), Elliot Benyon (ST), Gavin Tomlin (ST), Bilel Mohsni (CB/ST), John Spicer (CM), Neil Harris (ST), Sean Clohessy (RB), Jack Paxman (LM), Graham Coughlan (CB).

Big Ron (No, not that one)
Unpaid tax bills, winding up orders and a manager trying to prove his worth: welcome to League Two’s most eventful club. Unfortunately for Southend fans though, this season could well be one to forget. With several key players jumping ship, the Shrimpers face a long walk off a short pier. With two Colchester cast-offs and an unreliable Bradford winger, you can’t even say the Essex outfit have bought well as yet. With automatic promotion out of the question, the play-offs are the best Southend can hope for this season – and even that’s pushing it. With kingpin Ron Martin the amiable puppet master at Roots Hall and Kim-Jong Brown on the touchline, the bubble may well burst on the Essex coast this season.

What the fan says: @CJPhillips1982: "At the moment Southend have 11 fit senior players which means they’ll need to strengthen the squad hugely if they’re to finish any higher than mid-table. Player wise Barry Corr is the one to watch. He scored 12 goals in 19 starts last season and is now back to full fitness."

Murphy's Best Bet: Southend to finish in the bottom half, available at 11/10 with SkyBet.

Torquay United

Players In: Krystian Pearace (CB), Ben Harding (CM), Courtney Cameron (LM), Jordan Chappell (ST), Dale Tonge (RB), Elliott Benyon (ST).

Players Out: Brian Saah, Rene Howe, Craig Easton, Daniel Leadbitter, Lloyd Macklin, Karl Baker, Ian Morris, Joe Oastler, Danny Stevens, Saul Haplin, Ryan Jarvis.

It’s the start of another new chapter at Plainmoor following the departure of Martin Ling with former Bury boss Alan Knill taking his place in the dugout. And that brings with it a level of intrigue as to where the Gulls will go from here. Under Knill, Torquay experienced a mixed end to the season, but ultimately it all came together in good time to allow the seasiders to escape the clutches of relegation. I'm afraid to say it could well be another slog at the bottom for Knill's men. After losing key forward Rene Howe and solid centre half Brian Saah, a lot of responsibility will fall onto the shoulders of former star Elliot Benyon to ensure the Gulls don’t slip into those relegation places once more.

What the fan says: @JohnCadigan: "A new season and another new manager at Plainmoor after last season’s debacle, but there’s reason for optimism under Alan Knill. The signing of young wingers Jordan Chapell and Courtney Cameron, and creative midfielder Ben Harding indicates a more exciting style than we experienced under Martin Ling. As well as that, the re-signing of fans favourite Elliot Benyon as well as former Notts County defender Krystian Pearce, has got the fans going. If we can add a another striker or two to the squad, and can pick up from where we left off at the end of last season, a top half finish with some positive, attacking football would represent a job well done for most Gulls fans."

Murphy's Best Bet: Torquay to be relegated, available at 8/1 with StanJames.

Wycombe Wanderers

Players In: Steven Craig (ST), Tommy Fletcher (CB), Jon-Paul Pittman (ST), Charlie Horlock (GK), Paris Cowan-Hall (ST), Nick Arnold (Loan RB).

Players Out: Grant Basey, Olly Taylor, Dave Winfield, Dennis Oli, Georges Ehui, Joel Grant, Gareth Ainsworth, Emanuel Ighorae Jessy Kewley-Graham (Loan).

Wycombe have borrowed Barcelona's away kit
ahead of the new campaign

Look under ‘average’ in the dictionary and you’ll find Wycombe Wanderers. With a distinct lack of transfer activity the chairboys have been left with largely the same squad that finished 15th last season. Joel Grant has departed for Yeovil but other than that they haven’t really lost any key figures. Jon-Paul Pittman has been brought in for his second spell with the club and should link up well with tricky winger Sam Wood to provide a potent attacking threat for the Buckinghamshire outfit. 

What the fan says: @Alky007: "This season is one that many Wycombe fans are looking forward to. The first full season of "Rock and Roll Football" under Gareth Ainsworth promises much. Despite the loss of last year’s top scorer Joel Grant and captain Dave Winfield, there are still grounds for optimism within the camp. A lot will be expected from Dean Morgan up front and the youngsters such as Ingram, Stewart, Dunne, Hause, Scowen and McClure should all get chances to shine. There’s no reason why the play offs shouldn't be a realistic target."

Murphy's Best Bet: Wycombe to make the play-offs, available at 7/2 with Ladbrokes. 

York City

Players In: Ben Davies (Loan DF), Chris Kettings (Loan GK), Richard Cresswell (ST), Lewis Montrose (CM), Ryan Bowman (ST), Wes Fletcher (ST), Craig Clay (CB), Ryan Jarvis (ST), Sander Puri (RM), Mike Atkinson (Academy RB), Chris Dickinson (Academy ST).

Players Out: Jason Walker, Jamie Reed, Chris Doig, Matty Blair, David McDaid, Patrick McLaughlin, Michael Potts, Scott Kerr, Jameel Ible, Jon Challinor, Lee Bullock. 

Having narrowly avoided relegation in their first season back in League Two, York City will be looking to push on up the league under the stewardship of Nigel Worthington. The Minstermen are another side to have recruited relatively well, bringing in Estonian international midfielder Sander Puri from St Mirren and powerful midfielder Lewis Montrose from Gillingham. They both suit Worthington’s style of play which will have undoubtedly been drilled into the players over the summer. If they can maintain their sturdy away form and improve on their woeful home record at Bootham Crescent last season, a play-off push is on the cards. 

What the fan says: @lawtonjoe: "Four wins in the last six games of last season meant York avoided suffering the ignominy of being the first ever club to be relegated back to the Conference immediately after being promoted. After last season's unwanted close shave, hopes are high at Bootham Crescent that they can improve on the 17th position they finished in 2013, with even a spot in the play-offs a faint aspiration. Going unbeaten in pre-season against four Championship sides bodes well and manager Nigel Worthington's contacts within the Football League means that when injuries and suspensions inevitably arise, he will be well equipped to bring in temporary faces, very often a problem for League 2 teams. One York player to keep an eye on is new signing Sander Puri. The 25 year old is an Estonian international with 52 senior caps to his name. He is an attacking winger comfortable with both feet and is certainly someone for the Minstermen faithful to get excited about."

Murphy's Best Bet: York City to make the play-offs, available at 6/1 with Ladbrokes.

So there we have it folks, the most in depth and detailed look through of each of the 24 teams competing in League Two in the coming season. Thank you to all of the supporters that have taken part and good luck to all for the rest of the season. Make sure you read my future blogs when we play your team and that you follow me on Twitter using the handle @NickMurphyDRFC. Thank you all for reading and I'll speak to you again soon.

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