Sky Bet League Two Predictions 2016/17

Written by Owen Knight

With Pre-Season over, the real business kicks off this weekend for all leagues below the Premier League. I’m giving my thoughts and predictions of how this season could turn out for League Two Clubs.

After a one season stint of being in the National League as a supporter of Cheltenham Town, it’s fair to say I’ve fell a little out of touch with the heights of League 2 football. Every league throws up a many surprises in the season, no more than Wimbledon overcoming Plymouth in the play-off final, meaning a 6th consecutive season in the fourth tier of English football for the Pilgrims. As ever there have been a mountain of changes throughout the clubs as they look to seek their winning formula to bounce into the promotion places, and get that shot at playing in League 1 and even further.

Within this article I will look at my favourites for automatic promotion and those I believe to be amongst the four play-off positions. As well as the two teams which will struggle to be amongst the best, and therefore will suffer the dreaded relegation into the non-league.

Automatic Promotion

Unlike any other league the top three teams get rewarded with the straight switch to the League 1. Arguably these lower two leagues are always the hardest to predict, as there is always so many shocks and surprise teams who make late surges for the top three.

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credit David Sivyer

My team to clinch the top spot is Plymouth Argyle, after play off final failure there has been a Pre-Season of change for Derek Adams team. A sense of upheaval was required, losing three of their back four, making up for the loss of Nelson and Hartley will be the hardest task. On the attacking front they’ve signed ex-Premier League and Scottish international striker David Goodwillie, who will be a great addition, and replacement for the prolific Ruben Reid. A number of other signings who are bound to add to their success are Ryan Donaldson, Karleigh Osborne and Sonny Bradley, all with plenty of experience in the football league.

Occupying second and third place I predict Doncaster Rovers and Leyton Orient. This league is full of many teams who will think they are too big and too good for this level, none other than Doncaster Rovers, who have suffered the horrible fall from championship to League Two in the last few seasons. High pressure will be on them to see if they can gain instant promotion at first time of asking. With the experience of Darren Ferguson, and players such as Tommy Rowe and Gary McSheffery, I expect them to prove their worth and be strong throughout the season regaining League One status. Leyton Orient are another team who will feel they belong higher than this level, and without managerial changes last season will feel they could have gone up through the play-offs. Consistency in the backroom and on the pitch will be key in their promotion chase. So long as Jay Simpson can pick up from where he left off last season in the goal-scoring charts, it shouldn’t be too much of a task to get into one of the three automatic places for the O’s who have an all round strong team.

Play-Off’s

AFC Wimbledon and Accrington were the surprise packages in the four play off positions last season, with a six point gap between the play off winners in 7th and 8th placed Orient. This season I feel Portsmouth again will reign amongst the top positions, and maybe it will be their year to finally kick on and get the final win at Wembely to push on up the ranks. They’ve built from a fairly strong season, and a bit of stability and consistency in the playing squad will be down to their success or failure.

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credit Elliott Day

I’ve been impressed with the transfer business of Wycombe in this transfer window, acquisitions of Scott Brown and Bayo Akinfenwa I feel will find them back in the play-off places and hopefully a success after the failure two seasons ago. Ainsworth clearly wants to build some sort of legacy for himself at Adams Park, going into his 4th season in his first full managerial job.

The final two I see being in the play off positions are Carlisle United and Luton Town. As always up until the last few games of the season their are a handful of teams in the mix for a spot in the play-offs. I can see these two proving their worth and one of them making a late dash to get into the final spot. Both have built strong teams for the upcoming season, and it’s sure to be a tasty battle, and full of entertainment as usual in this league.

Relegation

With only two teams going down it’s never easy to justify why a team will be the worst pick of the bunch, and it was hard going seeing my own team lose their football league status in 2015. But it is quite clear why it happens and although this league is highly competitive and full of different qualities their can be some truly shocking players that commit to the football in this league.

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credit Eamon Curry

One team I feel who will be departing league two this season is Newport County, with many of their signings from the non-league, and looking at their current playing squad, it screams relegation to me. The Welsh team were probably lucky last season the quality of the two relegated teams were one of the poorest for a long time in terms of points tally.

There are a handful of other teams who people will feel must tread carefully this season. It may come as a surprise to some but I feel Crewe may find themselves occupying that second relegation spot next season. After finishing at the bottom of League One last season with only 34 points and not much change in the squad altogether, I find it hard to understand what they’re expecting out of the coming league campaign. I’m sure their fans will also be expressing concerns and I feel they may be the shock candidate for spot number 23.

Full League Prediction:

  1. Plymouth
  2. Doncaster Rovers
  3. Leyton Orient
  4. Portsmouth
  5. Wycombe Wanderers
  6. Carlisle United
  7. Luton Town
  8. Colchester United
  9. Cambridge United
  10. Accrington Stanley
  11. Notts County
  12. Mansfield Town
  13. Exeter City
  14. Hartepool United
  15. Cheltenham Town
  16. Grimsby Town
  17. Stevenage
  18. Morecambe
  19. Yeovil
  20. Blackpool
  21. Barnet
  22. Crawley Town
  23. Crewe Alexandra
  24. Newport County

As always predictions are matter of pure opinion, and it takes a genius to predict a handful of these positions. Nevertheless let me know what you think of these positions, and where you think your team will end up!

featured image by James Evans