Written by Connor Lawson
This is the second part of the four part article grading League One sides starts to the season. In this part, I will be grading Chesterfield, Coventry, Fleetwood, Gillingham, MK Dons and Millwall.
Chesterfield – D
Chesterfield have not had a good start to the season, and that is why they are in the relegation zone in League One. They have only won six games all season and lost the joint most in the league. Scoring isn’t too much of an issue for them, but conceding most definitely is. It is all too evident that they need to improve in defence and they have conceded three or more goals in six games this season. Perhaps surprisingly, Danny Wilson has kept his job so far and maybe that is a result of some big wins against Bolton and MK Dons recently. If you’re a Chesterfield fan, you probably aren’t best pleased that your team is in another relegation scrap. One thing is for sure, and that is results need to improve for the Spireites in 2017.
Coventry City – D-
Coventry have had an awful first half of the season. Coventry have only managed four wins all season and three of those wins have been at home. Their away form is dreadful, they have only picked up six points on their travels this season. After Tony Mowbray resigned, results momentarily improved, but they seem to be back to how they were under Mark Venus. What’s more, the Sky Blues have scored the second least amount of goals in the league. They have also let top scorer Marvin Sordell leave for Burton, in exchange for striker Stuart Beavon in hope he will be the man to fix their attacking woes. I don’t think it would be appropriate to talk about Coventry without mentioning their owners. They have joined forces with Charlton in protest earlier this season, as well as engaging in a protest against MK Dons and a pitch invasion at home to Sheffield United. Coventry’s chairman, Tim Fisher, has also said the club ‘will die’ unless they get a stadium of their own. It is worrying times for Sky Blues fans, the last thing they want is a relegation dog fight.
Fleetwood Town – A-
Fleetwood are currently sitting pretty just outside the play-offs, and they will be more than happy with this position at this stage in the season, especially considering the fact they finished just five points clear of the relegation zone last season. Their home form has been fantastic this season, with their only home loss of the season being a 4-1 defeat to MK Dons in September. On the road, however, they have only won twice and they didn’t win away at all in November and December. Away form aside, they have been good value for their current league position, and star man David Ball has been a vital part of their success this season, having scored nine league goals for Fleetwood so far. If Fleetwood want to maintain their play-off challenge, they will need to improve their away form to match their home form, and if they manage this, it could be a very successful season for them.
Gillingham – C
Gillingham are looking likely to settle for another mid table finish in their fourth season in League One. They haven’t been particularly special, and I can’t imagine Gillingham fans have been subject to the most exciting football, but they do pick up some good wins. But for a leaky defence, Gillingham would most likely be top half of the table. Instead, they sit in 16th, a place I expect them to rise above in the second half of the season. Their home and away form is reasonably similar and I don’t think Gillingham are really going to bring much success to their fan base this season. Whether or not they will be happy with mid table is something a Gillingham fan will have to tell you, but they will be hoping their team can mount a play-off challenge in the second half of this season.
MK Dons – D
MK Dons returned to League One as many bookies’ favourites for promotion after relegation from the Championship, but that hasn’t proved to be the case. 18th position is definitely not where they want to be. After having parted company with Karl Robinson in October and appointing Robbie Neilson at the start of December, results have picked up slightly. Neilson handed the home fans their first two home wins of the season against AFC Wimbledon and Swindon and the mood is improving around the club. Many fans will be hoping for a Barnsley-style rise up the table in 2017 to the play-offs, which might not be too difficult if they have a good transfer window. If they can get their home form to match their away form, it could be a successful season after all for the Dons, but it will require a lot of hard work.
Millwall – B
Again, the Lions were many people’s favourites for promotion pre-season and it would be reasonable to say they could be doing better, despite still being in a decent position just a point out of the play-offs but twelve away from Bolton in second. Millwall are the third highest scorers in the league which makes it fairly disappointing that they have also conceded the most goals out of any other team in the top half of League One. One of Millwall’s big advantages is that they have a few different regular goal scorers. Lee Gregory, Steve Morison and Aiden O’Brien have scored 26 league goals between them, which makes it unlikely for the Lions to be hit hard if one of those three gets injured or suspended. If they recruit some solid defenders in January, they definitely have the potential to secure a play-off place, and perhaps sneak into the top two.