Written by Kurt West
This League Two season had it all, last minute drama, a plucky underdog and a runaway winner. Northampton’s rise from the brink of non-existence to table toppers was quite a story along with favourites for relegation, Accrington Stanley, finishing 4th and missing out on an automatic spot in last minute heartbreak. Here is my opinion on the season, team by team.
AFC Wimbledon – 7th Grade: A
Wimbledon had struggled to reach beyond mid-table in the past 4 seasons back in league football so to finish 7th, just inside the play offs, will be seen as a very good achievement by Neil Ardley’s men. 7 wins in 8 games over the Christmas and January period propelled them up the table and with only 1 loss in their last 8 fixtures they certainty have momentum on their side. A play-off semi final against Accrington awaits and with such late heart break for Accrington, you’d expect Wimbledon to provide a good test.
Star Man – Lyle Taylor
After a few turbulent years in Taylor’s career, he finally found consistent first team football. scoring 20 league goals in the process.
Accrington Stanley- 4th Grade: A*
Accrington were pre-season favourites for relegation once again but they have shocked the whole division by playing free flowing, neat and tidy football. which in League Two, is not a regular occurrence! John Coleman knows the club and the division inside out and has been a major part of their unbelievable success. Going into the 90th and last minute of the season, Accrington were about to be promoted to the third tier of English football for the first time ever. A late Bristol Rovers goal ended those hopes and pushed Accrington into the play-offs. A cruel twist of fate for a team who had done so well all season but you cannot rule this team out and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if they go on and win the play-offs.
Star Man- Billy Kee
Was a very good coup for Accrington at the time and 17 goals along with 14 assists has proven that. Josh Windass a very close second with 15 goals and 5 assists, form which has seen him snapped up by Rangers for the new season.
Barnet- 15th Grade: C
Barnet will be happy with a steady season after returning from non-league the previous season. Keeping hold of John Akinde was a big coup for Barnet and his goals have fired Barnet to a comfortable mid table finish, finishing 11 points ahead of 16th placed Hartlepool. Home form was key for Barnet with 13 of their 17 wins coming at The Hive. Barnet will look to kick on next season after a steady first season back and a top half finish next season would certainly not surprise me,
Star Man- John Akinde
John Akinde was always going to be a big part of Barnet’s season after notching 31 goals in a Conference winning season. He notched 23 goals this term and you feel keeping hold of Akinde this summer would be another big coup for Barnet.
Bristol Rovers- 3rd Grade: A
A very good season for Bristol Rovers both on and off the pitch. They sealed a second consecutive promotion in the final minute of the final day when Lee Brown popped up from left back to send the Memorial Stadium into raptures. After a rocky start and off the field financial problems, Rovers fans may of expected the worst but since the end of November, Rovers only lost 5 of their remaining games and an incredible run of only 1 loss in their last 14 games secured a fantastic season for Rovers. With new owner Wael Al-Qaidi taking over in February, the future looks an exciting one for the club.
Star Man- Matty Talyor
An incredible 27 goals from Taylor made him League Two’s top scorer for the season and was a somewhat surprising admission from the Football League Team of the Season.
Cambridge United- 9th Grade: C
Perhaps a disappointing season for Cambridge who may have expected to sneak into the play-offs but not a complete disaster. Richard Money was dismissed in November and replaced with Shaun Derry who has done a reasonable job since taking over. Cambridge ended the season 8 games unbeaten and surely there will be optimism around the Abbey Stadium for a successful promotion charge next season.
Star Man- Luke Berry
A summer acquisition from Barnsley who has chipped in with 12 goals from midfield and played 3784 minutes this season, more than any other Cambridge player.
Carlisle United- 10th Grade: B
This season has to be regarded as a reasonable success after off the field uncertainty earlier in the season and losing two key players in Kyle Dempsey and Brad Potts. Play-offs at one point looked a real certainty, before a patchy run of form ended their season and their play-off hopes. Another club who will look to push on next season with the club in a more stable situation.
Star Man- Jabo Ibehre
The experienced forward started the season with a flourish, scoring 5 goals in 3 games. He ended the season with 15 goals and the quickest red card of the season, 37 seconds.
Crawley Town- 20th Grade: C
Tipped by some to finish in the bottom two, Crawley will probably see this season as somewhat of a success. However after sacking Mark Yates in late April and ending the season with 8 consecutive losses which included a 3-0 loss to already relegated Dagenham, I can only see another season of mediocrity and a relegation battle next season.
Star Man- Giwon Edwards
After losing top scorer Izale Mcleod to Notts County, Crawley have found goals hard to come by, winger Giwon Edwards notched 8 which left him as top goal scorer and played in 42 league games this season. With his contract running out in June, you have to worry that Crawley could lose another key man this summer.
Dagenham and Redbridge- 23rd Grade: F
A bleak season was predicted for Dagenham so maybe an F could be seen as a slightly unfair judgement. However as a fan of Yeovil Town in League Two and going to watch most home and away games, Dagenham have to be one of the poorest sides I’ve ever seen play. They won 3 games at home all season, with the first not coming until early March against the only side poorer than them (by 1 goal difference), York City. 2 Wins from their last 3 games saved their blushes of finishing rock bottom but I don’t think we’ll be seeing them back in the Football League any time soon.
Star Man- Liam O’Brien
I have to admit that it was a struggle trying to pick a star man from such a poor side, but after speaking to some Dagenham fans it sounds like their keeper was the only kind of player to come out with any credit this season despite being dropped for the last few games of the season.
Do you agree with these grades? Let us know in the comment below and be sure to look out for parts 2 and 3 which are coming soon!
Featured Image by Paul Wilkinson