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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

League Two Focus

The latest in our series looking at the issues across the divisions focusses on League Two.


Perennial basement boys Rochdale still remain in control at the summit of League Two.

Behind them is a competitive race for the other two automatic places with long-standing challengers Bournemouth, Bury, and Rotherham still in contention.

Chesterfield have found form at the right time and Notts County have had a revival since their change of manager. Who will make the top three though?

As it stands:

1. Rochdale.............34....39....69
2. Bournemouth.......35.....8.....63
Notts County.......32....41.....60
5. Chesterfield.........34....9......60
6. Rotherham..........33.....8.....56

Nobes: Rochdale are still handily placed and have been top of the three for a few months now. Psychologically that's very positive, and I don't see anyone stopping them from winning it.

Their closest challengers might well turn out to be Notts County now though. They're on a very strong run since Steve Cotterill took charge and he is getting the best out of a good squad. I fancy them for the top three.

The other place looks like a fight between in-form Chesterfield, plucky Bournemouth, and one of the pre-season favourites Bury. I always tend to go with form at this time of the season, and the momentum is with the Derbyshire club.

Summary: Rochdale (Champions), Notts County, Chesterfield.

Can anyone stop Keith Hill's Rochdale at the top of League Two?

Rochdale - come on down!

It's going to be weird for the Dale but next season they are going to have to start playing football in a different league for the first time in over 30 years. I sense some of the fans will be getting nose-bleeds at the prospect of it.

They should win the league but deciding who will join them isn't a simple process. Most of the teams in the hunt are falling over themselves to let it slip.

I think Bury will show a bit of resilience towards the back-end of the season but they will probably drop out of the top three.

Notts County are a shambles off the pitch but Cotterill has turned them back into an impressive unit.

If they turn a couple of those games in hand into points then they are back in the melting pot of destiny. They've got goals and a solid defence - promotion looms for the Magpies.

Bournemouth are in a world of financial hurt but they seem to be ignoring it and focusing on the football. Chesterfield have impressed me and I think they should have enough to overpower the Cherries.

Never fear though Bournemouth fans because a trip to Wembley will do your bank balance a world of good.

Rotherham should give it a good go but they will probably fail because there are too many teams for them to catch up. Shame really, I like the Millers.

Summary: Rochdale (Champions), Chesterfield, Notts County.


Shrewsbury currently sit in the last play off spot, but there are clubs close behind them ready to pounce if they slip up.

Northampton are the division's form side, and Aldershot and Dagenham continue to punch above their weight in the race for the top seven.

As it stands:

7. Shrewsbury.....35....7......55
10. Dagenham....34.....4......51

Nobes: There's always a side who makes the play-offs after an incredibly strong second half of the season. That team in League Two may well turn out to be Northampton.

Cobblers always looked like one of the stronger teams and have now put a slow start behind them. I think they will battle it out with Shrewsbury for that last spot in the play-offs. It may go all the way 'til the end.

Summary: Bury, Bournemouth, Rotherham, Northampton.

Paul Simpson and Shrewsbury face a fight to finish in the play-offs

Turls: Bury and Bournemouth will console themselves with a play-off position and Rotherham will take another one of those tasty treats.

Who will take the final spot? I think it's a straight race between Shrewsbury and Northampton. I'd love for a "small" team to be in the play-offs but I think all of them will just miss out.

Northampton have the momentum and we've seen before that a late run can easily propel you into the play-offs. However, have they made their move too soon?

I think they might run out of steam towards the end of the season and will be pipped to the post by the experienced Shrewsbury team. I have been wrong before though.

Summary: Bury, Bournemouth, Rotherham, Shrewsbury.


Even with their games in hand, relegation for Darlington looks like a matter of time.

Grimsby ended their 25-match unbeaten run to throw them a survival lifeline. Cheltenham and Lincoln are most vulnerable should the Mariners close the gap.

As it stands:

21. Lincoln................34...-20....35
22. Cheltenham.........34...-16.....31
23. Grimsby..............35....-23....27
24. Darlington...........32....-44....16

Nobes: Darlington have been gone for a long time now, and recent results have only served to hasten their exit from the Football League.

Despite their first win in 26 games at the weekend, Grimsby are still strong favourites to join them. They have to make sure they go on a good run now, or it won't count for much.

I worry for Cheltenham though. They've been unable to pull away from a very poor Grimsby side, their home form is atrocious, and they've been badly run all season off the pitch.

It's the recipe for relegation from Football League, and they may yet suffer it. I'd still say they have the upper hand over the Mariners though.

Summary: Darlington, Grimsby.

Cheltenham boss Mark Yates is looking over his shoulder at the bottom two

Darlington are dead and buried. Let's all put our hands together for Stan Staunton. Of course it's not all his fault but he didn't help matters.

Who will join the Quakers? Some people think that Cheltenham are dropping and Grimsby may find the strength to pull themselves out of the mire.

You know what I say to these people? Nothing - because idiocy does not deserve a response. Grimsby are down.

I don't care if they have got their first win in 25 games. I don't care if they believe in themselves. I'm telling you, they are down.

If they don't get relegated, then I will write a letter of congratulations to every single Grimsby player, the manager, and the chairman on a successful season. I might even spray some aftershave on the letters.

Summary: Darlington, Grimsby.

We'll round-up what's happening in League Two again in April. We're dropping into Non League tomorrow though with a look at the Conference Premier.

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