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ARLukomski
ARLukomski

League Two 2018/19 season preview and final table prediction

1. Milton Keynes (C,P) - This may be an opinion divider but I just feel that MK have a slight edge over us and Lincoln. Paul Tisdale moves from Exeter and has bought Jordan Moore-Taylor, Ryan Harley and Robbie Simpson with him. Kieran Agard should provide goals up front and creativity will come from Alex Gilbey and Chuks Aneke. Jordan Houghton is a good signing in midfield. They have retained most of their squad and with good depth and quality in each position, I think this might be the year Tisdale finally achieves promotion from this league.

2. Notts County (P) - Notts have had their best transfer window for years and look to continue the momentum, that Kevin Nolan and Alan Hardy have bought to the club. We have finally fixed an issue which has been a problem for Notts for six years now and that is the presence of a goalscorer. Now we have two, in Kristian Dennis and Kane Hemmings. David Vaughan should provide creativity from the heart of midfield. Enzio Boldewijn is quick and will be crucial to Notts' creativity and goals. He will also help break teams down, something Notts struggled with last season. The same core of players remain who took the team to 5th last season in Hewitt, Duffy, Brisley, Hall, Fitzsimons, Tootle and Jones. The new style of play may take some time to implement and we may start slow, but as we haven't ripped the heart of the team out from last season, I think we will start to pickup around October and November and push on from there. If not, the January window can rescue us. REMEMBER LUTON STARTED SLOW LAST SEASON!

3. Lincoln City (P) - Lincoln's momentum will continue into 2018-19 after their promotion winning season and finishing 7th last season. Danny Cowley's transfer business has gone well with The Imps bringing in John Akinde from Barnet. A goalscorer is something Lincoln needed. Bruno Andrade and Grant Smith have both arrived from Boreham Wood, Andrade scoring 18 goals from the wing last season, and goalkeeper Smith being named in the team of the season. Shay McCartan is an exciting signing from Bradford whilst Blackburn centre-back Scott Wharton returns to Sincil Bank, after a good spell on loan last season. They have good enough players, quality and depth in the squad to make sure they avoid the play-offs this time around.

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4. Mansfield Town - After just missing out on a play-off spot a few months ago, David Flitcroft will now take charge of his first full season in charge of the Stags. He has bought well in Tyler Walker, Neal Bishop and Matt Preston. The squad have had a year to gel and get used to each other's strengths and weaknesses. The one key thing that will be crucial to Mansfield is, can Flitcroft get the best out of them? This is the big point and will decide whether Mansfield make the top 3 or not. They have looked good in pre-season, playing a 3-5-2 formation but it could be very different once the season starts. Inconsistency at Swindon meant The Robins didn't trouble the top three as much, as they would have liked to. Swindon fans were happy to see him go. A promotion season with Bury, before an inconsistent 15-16 season and a terrible run of 7 losses in a row in 2016-17 saw him sacked in November 2016. Mansfield's season all depends on which David Flitcroft turns up.

5. Northampton Town (P) - Dean Austin took over as caretaker manager for the last few games of last season and almost performed a miracle in keeping Northampton up before they were sucker-punched in the 90th minute in game 45. A key aspect of Northampton's summer, has been keeping the squad to together and they have done just that. The have signed two new strikers who should help them making a challenge on promotion, with Andy Williams and Junior Morias adding at Sixfields. Morias, especially, looks a good signing for this level. The Cobblers have good depth in all areas of the pitch and they look good to mount a promotion challenge and a return to League One.

6. Colchester United - After missing out on the top 7 for two seasons in a row, Colchester will want to finally make them this time. They have added to the squad well, bringing in two new goalkeepers and adding three new strikers in, Newport's Frank Nouble, Swindon's Luke Norris and Wolves' Aaron Collins (on loan). Harry Pell comes in from Cheltenham, after impressing at Whaddon Road. Keeping hold of Sammie Szmodics has been crucial, with his passing and creativity a big part of John McGreal's team. Szmodics scored 13 goals last season. The squad has got stronger and this time, the U's should make an impact on League Two.

7. Exeter City - Exeter have lost their manager of many seasons, in Paul Tisdale and some of the players that helped them get into the play-offs two seasons in a row. Jordan Moore-Taylor, Ryan Harley, Robbie Simpson and Lloyd James. However, they have replaced them adequately with the arrivals of Jonathan Forte, Nicky Law, Aaron Martin and Lee Martin. New manager Matt Taylor knows the club well having previously played at St James Park and he knows the lower leagues well after spending time at Charlton and Newport, as well as The Grecians.

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8. Stevenage - Dino Maamria took over in March and will lead Stevenage into, what they hope, is a better season than last season. Boro have bought well. Scott Cuthbert is one of the best signings in League Two, coming in from promotion winning Luton. Michael Timlin is a good signing, in my opinion and him and Joel Byrom should form a good partnership in midfield. They have lost Matt Godden which will be crucial but Danny Newton should be able to come up with the goals, as should the experienced Alex Revell. Like Aspin, Maamria has also used his non league exploits to bring in players. The four arriving are Luther Wildin (Nuneaton), James Ball (Stockport), Emmanuel Sonupe (Kidderminster) and Donovan Makoma (Barrow). All in all, a good transfer window for Stevenage and they will look to challenge the play-off places.

9. Port Vale - The Valliants have had a lot of changes made to the playing squad this summer with twelve new players coming through the doors at Vale Park. Ricky Miller and Idris Kanu arrive from Peterborough to add competition and goals. Kanu especially, is a very promising young player. Neil Aspin has used his knowledge and experience of non league football to bring in a few players. Manny Oyeleke arrives from Aldershot, Theo Vassell from Gateshead and Brendon Daniels from Alfreton. He has also added Football League experience in the form of Leon Legge, Luke Joyce and Louis Dodds. Luke Hannant is one to look out for after impressing at the back end of last season. Lots of improvements have been made to the squad and Aspin looks like the man to take Vale forward.

10. Swindon Town - Not as strong a squad as last season and in my opinion, the signings of Toumani Diagouraga and Michael Doughty, are the only ones that stand out. Diagouraga ran the show at Plymouth and Fleetwood last season and was crucial to The Piglrims revival from bottom of the league, to near the play-offs. Elijah Adebayo comes in on loan from Fulham and will be expected to score goals after a decent spell on loan at Cheltenham last season. Keshi Anderson is definitely one to look out for next season and Phil Brown has done it before at this level with Southend but for me, they just don't have enough to make the play-offs.

11. Grimsby Town - The Mariners have looked rejuvenated under Michael Jolley. After saving them from relegation last season, he has made some shrewd additions this summer with John Welsh from Preston and Elliott Whitehouse from Lincoln being the standout additions. However, Whitehouse will be out for a while due to injury. Jake Hessenthaler from Gillingham and Alex Whitmore from Chesterfield are young players and are also solid additions. I feel like they may need another year before they can mount a proper promotion challenge but the early signs are good and under Jolley, they seem to be heading in the right direction.

12. Crawley Town - They have lost key players in Enzio Boldewijn, Thomas Verheydt and Josh Yorwerth but they have bought in quality in Filipe Morais and Romain Vincelot. Ollie Palmer and Dominic Poleon look like they will form a decent partnership up front. George Francomb is another good addition having won promotion from this level in 2016 with AFC Wimbledon. Their defence lacks depth though, and they need back ups quickly.

13. Cambridge United - Have a decent squad with some good young players coming through. Joe Dunne did well with the team after taking over from Shaun Derry last season and managed a 12th placed finish. They haven't signed many in the transfer window and for that reason I can't see them pushing on into the play-offs. They may lack strength in depth in some areas too and getting goals out of Barry Corr will be important.

14. Crewe Alexandra - Some youth players at Crewe look like they are developing well, especially Charlie Kirk, Callum Ainley, Harry Pickering and James Jones. Perry Ng has also laid down the starting position at right-back. They have signed Shaun Miller and Paul Green to permanent contracts, after they helped Crewe go on a good run of form at the back end of the 17-18 season. Their defence is somewhere where they need improvement and they lack strength in depth.

15. Cheltenham Town - Losing Mo Eisa is big and they have decided to go down the same route in bringing in his replacement. They have once again looked into the lower divisions of non league to bring in a goalscorer, this time Manny Duku from Hayes & Yeading. They have bought in Johnny Mullins from Luton to add solidness to the defence. Mullins has won promotion from this league with Rotherham, Oxford and Luton. Sean Long arrives after a good season with Lincoln, as does Liam McAlinden with Exeter. However losing Eisa is a big deal and the squad has improved slightly but not enough to challenge the play-offs.

16. Bury - After a truly torrid season in 17-18, Bury will look to see an upturn in fortunes. Ryan Lowe was caretaker at the end of last season and has been given the managers job permanently. They have made some solid League Two additions such as Nicky Adams, Byron Moore and Chris Dagnall, but nothing spectacular. It will be hard to come off such a bad season and turn it around so quickly.

17. Tranmere Rovers - After finally getting out of non-league, Tranmere will be looking to push on and hopefully look to stabilise in League Two. Harvey Gilmour, Mark Ellis and Paul Mullin all look solid additions and keeping Ollie Norburn will be key. However, Rovers look thin up front with only James Norwood and Connor Jennings the two strikers at the club and this could pay dividends to them making any further strides up the league table.

18. Forest Green Rovers - FGR survived by a point last season, with Christian Doidge's goals crucial in keeping the Nailsworth club up.  Liam Shephard, George Williams and Joseph Mills look good signings. Exeter fans couldn't believe FGR payed a fee for Lloyd James but he looks a solid addition. They look good in areas, but lack quality in others. If Doidge leaves, then I do worry for Rovers. They also lack depth in central midfield.

19. Newport County - The club, who were the surprise package last season along with Accrington, have one of the lowest budgets in the division, with their FA Cup run last season bringing in some much needed income. Although their transfer business has been mixed. Jamille Matt is an average signing in my opinion, as is Fraser Franks and Charlie Cooper. Andrew Crofts is an experienced midfielder and Keanu Marsh-Brown should provide pace out wide. They rely on loans a lot and Padraig Amond will have to have a blinder of a season to get them near the top half.

20. Oldham Athletic - After reports the club are in financial ruin with the club paying the players late and the relation between fans and owner strained, it appears Oldham's first season outside of League One for 21 years, won't be a happy one. Their signings haven't been good enough and they lack strikers. The club looks to be going downwards and may even do a Chesterfield if they are not careful.

21. Carlisle United - John Sheridan takes over from Keith Curle in Cumbria but, whilst he is very good at keeping teams up and saving them mid-way through the season, when he starts the season with a club it can be difficult for him. Notts and Oldham are two clubs, where he has started the season and been sacked. Carlisle's transfer business is also a sign that it might be a hard season. They lack depth up front and goals may be difficult to come by. Add to that a very thin squad and the playing budget being cut, the Cumbrians could see themselves at the wrong end of the table.

22. Morecambe - So many years, The Shrimps have been holding on and this year I expect them to do so again. The main reason I have put them above Macclesfield and Yeovil is because of their transfer business in the striker department. Jason Oswell was second top scorer in the National League North last season for Stockport, scoring 24 goals. Liam Mandeville has also come in on loan from Doncaster Rovers, having won promotion with them from this division in 2016-17. Andrew Tutte has come in from Bury, adding experience to the midfield but the with the same core of players from last season, I still see them struggling.

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23. Macclesfield Town (R) - A lot of things have changed at Mac after they won the National League. Manager John Askey has left for Shrewsbury and key players from the promotion winning team have left in; Kieran Kennedy, Mitch Hancox and Danny Whitehead. Mark Yates takes over, after doing a brilliant job at Solihull Moors. The players they have bought in, however, aren't that brilliant and they could look set for a long season. Whether Mark Yates has improved as a manager since he left the Football League will remain to be seen but Macclesfield look to be up against it if they are to continue the trend of teams promoted from the National League, staying up.

24. Yeovil Town (R) - They have continued to survive for the past three seasons but this season could well be the year they fall. Yeovil's transfer business hasn't been the greatest. A few players bought in nearing the end of their careers in Gary Warren and Carl Dickinson. Diallang Jaiyesimi comes in on loan from Norwich but didn't have an all impressive loan spell at Grimsby last season. They've lost Otis Khan, a key player from the past few seasons. They haven't got much depth up front either and the team genuinely lacks quality.

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Disagree with a few of these as per my topic earlier today. Good article though and good research, enjoyed reading this @ARLukomski. Main one for me as I spoke to a Mansfield fan today, he believes Lincoln are struggling if Matt Green can't stay fit as they will be relying on route one football in Rhead and Akinde. I believe hes correct and losing Woodyard is a massive loss. 

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As much as I hope you’re right @ARLukomski (and I really enjoyed the article by the way), I can’t honestly see Notts finishing in the top 3. There is a feeling of disunity in the squad, they are a very long way off gelling as a unit from what I’ve seen and the new signings (other than Hemmings) have failed to impress. I don’t think Kevin will play Dennis & Hemmings together, the goalkeeper is not league 2 standard,  Duffy is seriously suspect and I can’t see Vaughan playing more than 3 games on the bounce.

I was as optimistic as any Notts fan when the club showed their ambition this closed season but bringing in new players doesn’t guarantee anything if they aren’t a team and it could take many weeks for that to become a reality. 

Notts to finish in top 5 but not automatic promotion contenders for me. 

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