League One & League Two preview

If, like me, you follow a team in the lower leagues of English football, you know two important things about the beautiful game: one it didn’t start in 1992 and two by the time a shiny Premier League ball is kicked, the season has been going for ages!

By 5pm tonight, most teams in League One and League Two will have played 5 games already with Crawley Town and AFC Wimbledon racking up their 6th appearance.  It seems odd to refer to fans of lower league teams as ‘purists’ but I understand as much as anyone that if you’re unwilling to pay three quid for a program but you will pay £2.50 for a dog meat and motor oil pie, you won’t care about what a league table looks like until the Christmas songs are being played on the stadium address systems.

After four league games, we do have some indication if things are going to plan.

Starting in League One, Sheffield Wednesdays have a tough game at home to Notts County.  County would have expected a battle this season but with two wins from three games, they will travel to South Yorkshire confident of upsetting Megson’s unexpectedly fragile side.  It pains me to say that I believed Wednesday would batter everything in this league, but the loss of Mellor’s ‘cutting edge’ and the loss of Tommy Spurr to rivals Doncaster Rovers has seen Wednesday’s struggle to find early form.  They have brought in Marshall from Stoke and a win at home could kick start their season.  Looking at their city rivals, Sheffield United, the contrast is stark.  Predicted by many, including the author, to struggle in mid table because of their off field problems.  They have started the season in explosive form but a tough trip to in-form Tranmere could see an interesting game.  Fellow pace-setters Charlton host newly relegated Scunthorpe who have had a lacklustre start.  One would have to back Powell’s men to make it four wins from four league games.  The other relegated team, Preston, host Paul Tisdale’s Exeter City.  The Grecians are still smarting from a defeat at the hands of Brentford but do look a shadow of the team that performed admirably last season.  Brentford host Leyton Orient and under new boss, Uwe Rosler, look formidable.  The Bee’s could be this season’s surprise package.  Another tasty fixture will be played out at the Galpharm with preseason favourites Huddersfield locking horns with Colchester.  Average starts from both mean that each will be keen to boost their promotion pushes.  The other games today include Carlisle V Bournemouth, MK Dons host Chesterfield, Hartlepool travel to Stevenage, Yeovil travel to Walsall and Wycombe entertain Bury.

Dropping in to league Two, the battle for promotion was tipped to be wide open.  Crawley were tipped to do well, AFC Wimbledon dare to dream and add this to the teams that were in the mix last season all expect to be there or thereabouts.  The rumours surrounding Buckle’s future definitely unsettled Torquay at Old Trafford in the Play-Off final and few eyebrows were raised when he finally moved away from the English Riviera.  His Bristol Rovers have had a decent start picking up 6 points with the Gulls only one point better off.  Pace setters Rotherham host last year’s great escapers Barnet and Torquay welcome ‘Big Spenders’ Crawley Town to Plainmoor.

This season promises to be interesting in England’s two lower leagues.  The quality in each league has never been as high with a lot of money being spent.  One thing is clear, trying to deduce form from league games is ridiculous and despite what I’ve written, anything could happen this afternoon. Apart from Barnet beating Rotherham… that won’t happen (cue the delirious Bee’s fans on the train home from the Don Valley Stadium)


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