Written by Connor Lawson
This is part three of a four part article grading each League One team on their starts to the season. In this part, I will be grading Northampton, Oldham, Oxford, Peterborough, Port Vale and Rochdale.
Northampton Town – B+
It’s never easy adapting to life in League One, but League Two Champions Northampton have done a pretty good job so far. They’re definitely not in danger of getting drawn into a relegation fight currently, and that is mostly thanks to their good away form. Like most promoted League Two teams, Northampton have been consistently trying their best to grind out results, which is perfectly illustrated by drawing five game in a row at the start of the season. They have collected a decent 16 points on the road this season and Rob Page will be delighted with that in his first season as Cobblers manager. Alex Revell has been their talisman this season, scoring six goals for them this season. They are also one of the only teams with a goal difference of zero, showing that they are consistent in defence and attack, unlike other teams, and if they keep it that way, that could be vital in cementing their status as a League One side.
Oldham Athletic – D-
Oldham fans have had a real horrible time of it this season. They find themselves currently rock bottom with just three wins and twelve goals, both of those figures are the worst in the league. Their home form is awful, having only picked up seven points at Boundary Park all season. Away from home their form isn’t too bad, and they are 14th in the away league table having obtained 11 points on their travels this season. Surprisingly, they have the best defence in the bottom half of the table, having drawn five games 0-0, it is just their attack that needs obvious improvement. Steve Robinson needs to act quickly in the January window to sign at least two good strikers if he wants to change the club’s fortunes.
Oxford United – A
The last of the League Two teams I will talk about in these articles is Oxford. Like the teams they got promoted with, they have done quite well this season. They are in a very respectable 13th place just eight points outside the play-offs. They have proved they aren’t a team you can just brush aside, and they definitely deserve their League One status. Many were curious to see how they would cope after losing Kemar Roofe, their main man from last season, but Chris Maguire has stepped into his boots quite well, scoring nine goals this season. They are also solid at the back, having conceded a reasonable 28 goals, matching the amount they have scored. I think Oxford can easily achieve a mid table finish this season, which I think would make their fans quite happy for their first season in League One.
Peterborough United – A-
The Posh have done quite well so far this season, just a point outside the play-offs in their fourth consecutive season in League One. They will be hoping to achieve a play-off spot and try to get promoted to the Championship for the third time in eight years. Last season didn’t go particularly well for Peterborough, finishing 13th in League One which was disappointing for their fans. This season is looking a bit different though, and Peterborough have shown they have real quality at times this season, after scoring five against both Millwall and Chesterfield. One risk is that their concentration on the league could be clouded by their huge FA Cup tie away to Chelsea on 8th January. Obviously, Posh fans will be hoping for an upset but that could mean a dip in league form, and I sense most Peterborough fans would rather achieve promotion from League One than go on a cup run. In an ideal world, they may get both, but they are certainly on the right track at the moment.
Port Vale – C+
Port Vale will definitely be hoping to improve in the second half of the season. It is their away form that has really let them down, having only won once away all season which was a win against the team with the second worst home form in the league, MK Dons. Thankfully, their home form is a lot better, achieving four times as many points at Vale Park than they have away from home. Alex Jones is their key player at the moment having scored nine league goals for Vale so far, but they need to be scoring more goals if they want to climb the table and better their 12th place finish from last season. They are also on the hunt for a new manager after Bruno Ribeiro resigned on Boxing Day after six games without a win. Michael Brown is in temporary charge of the club. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has been linked with the vacant role, and I think he could do well at Port Vale, but whether it will happen is yet to be seen.
Rochdale – A+
Rochdale have been fantastic this season, especially at home where they have only lost twice. If their away form was better, they would definitely be higher than fourth place, where they currently sit seven points behind Bolton in second. Their away form has been the only real negative of their season, and they have only one three games away from Spotland, picking up just 11 points. They have almost managed forty goals so far this season and that is a very good tally, with a combined amount of 25 goals coming from the quartet of Ian Henderson, Steven Davies, Matthew Lund and Calvin Andrew. They haven’t drawn much this season, which consequently means they have lost the most games out of anyone in the top six. In order to maintain their position and even improve it, they definitely need to improve on the road.
Do you agree with these grades? Let us know in the comments below!