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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

League Two Focus

Next up in our series focussing on the promotion and relegation issues across the Football League is the state of play in League Two.


With three automatic promotion places, the race to play in League One next term is always open in the basement division.

Last season's beaten play-off teams Rochdale and Bury are firmly in the picture and
another fancied side in Rotherham are in the mix.

The surprise side in the hunt is Eddie Howe's financially striken Bournemouth.

As it stands:

1. Rochdale.............29....34....59
2. Bournemouth.......30.....6.....56
3. Bury...................29.....5.....54

I'm really pleased to see Rochdale sitting pretty at the top, their fans deserve it, and I think they will win promotion and most probably the title.

I fancy Bury to also secure one of the automatic places. They were very unfortunate last season and Alan Knill has a strong squad that is beginning to find its best form.

The last place is close. Bournemouth are not as consistent as they were back in the summer, Notts have been a mess off the field all season, and Rotherham have lost their way a little of late.

If the Millers can rediscover their form, then I'd back them to take the final automatic promotion place.

Summary: Rochdale (Champions), Bury, Rotherham.

Eddie Howe's Bournemouth have surprisingly triumped against adversity this term

I do enjoy the journey down to the basement division. It's always an interesting season down in League Two and this one is no different.

Rochdale are looking in fine nick and I think they'll win the league at a canter and it's about time they changed division.

Notts County should join them in the top three. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush and all that, but should they avoid anymore off-field distractions the Magpies will take full advantage of their games in hand.

The final spot is tricky. It could go to any of them. Bury are looking in good nick but are up against a couple of strong sides in the shape of Bournemouth and Rotherham.

They may not have two pennies to rub between them but they are looking good. I think the Cherries will do it, leaving Rotherham and Bury to battle it out in the play-offs.

Rochdale (Champions), Notts County, and Bournemouth.


With many of the bigger clubs underperforming this term, smaller teams in League Two find themselves in with a chance of a play-off spot.

Accrington, and Burton are both handily placed for the run-in.

They're up against some of the larger clubs and bigger spenders in the division though - including the much-talked about Notts County.

Shrewsbury, Northampton and Chesterfield were all strongly backed for a top seven finish back in the summer too.

As it stands:

6. Chesterfield....28....5......45
Notts County..26....31.....46
10. Accrington....26.....1......42

League Two continues to surprise me. I expected the likes of Accrington, Burton, and Aldershot to be towards the bottom of the division, not the top seven.

However, at the risk of them proving me wrong again, I don't see any of the smaller sides making the top seven.

Shrewsbury have done slightly better than I thought they would this term, but have the experience to take one of those top seven places. Chesterfield are a talented side, particularly at home, and should also make the play-offs.

Northampton are the form side at the minute though, so can't be ruled out.

Summary: Bournemouth, Notts County, Chesterfield, Shrewsbury.

Can Accrington boss John Coleman lead his side into the top seven?

I love the play-offs. It's always a battle to see who will make it in and they're always interesting to watch.

Aside from Rotherham and Bury, I fancy Accrington to throw a cat among the pigeons and make the play-offs. Not a well-liked club in the Nobes household but they look like they could go the distance — provided they don't go financially tits up again.

That leaves one spot up for grabs and I can't help but be drawn to Shrewsbury. Been there before and should be there again come the end of the season.

Burton look a solid outfit but I can't see them lasting the pace. They will be more than happy with their season though. I think Northampton could mount a push for the play-offs but I reckon they will fall off as well.

Chesterfield will just miss the cut, as will the likes of Aldershot and Dagenham but this one will go all the way to the finish line with at least one of the remaining spots being decided on the final day.

Summary: Rotherham, Bury, Shrewsbury and Accrington.


The race to avoid dropping out of the Football League now appears to be limited to just one place.

That's because, 12 points adrift of safety, Darlington appear doomed. Grimsby, who only just avoided demotion last term, currently occupy the second relegation place.

Hovering nervously above the drop zone are the likes of Cheltenham, Torquay, and Lincoln.

As it stands:

20. Lincoln................28...-16....29
21. Torquay..............29.....-5....27
22. Cheltenham.........28....-15...26
23. Grimsby..............28....-22....20
24. Darlington...........26....-36....15

Nobes: I like Darlo and their fans, but I can't see any way back for them, I'm afraid. They will be relegated to the Conference for a second time.

Of the others, Cheltenham have been a shambles off the pitch this term and Lincoln's decision to replace Peter Jackson with Chris Sutton was a mistake.

Torquay too have spent the last month replacing the kind of experienced heads needed in their position with young lads. They're playing a dangerous game.

However, using the logic that the worst two sides always go down, then I have to say Grimsby won't escape the drop this time around. Sides who go 20 league games without winning don't stay up.

Summary: Darlington and Grimsby.

Grimsby boss Neil Woods is yet to register a league win for the Mariners

As has been the case with the Championship and League One, League Two has a team that are pretty much down already.
Darlington have been fighting a losing battle all season long and Stan Staunton can't have helped the situation.

That leaves a shoot-out to see who will be joining the Quakers in the Football Conference next season. I'd like to see Torquay go down but fortunately for them, Grimsby are an abysmal side.

Cheltenham and Lincoln should also count themselves lucky because if it were any other year, they would all be in serious danger of leaving the Football League.

As it stands though, they should be counting their blessings as Grimsby take a trip with Darlington into the Non-League pyramid.

Summary: Darlington and Grimsby.

We'll be revisiting what's going on in League Two in March, and tomorrow our series continues with a look at what's happening in the Conference Premier.

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