League Two Predictions

June 15, 2005
By Sean Smith

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    OUTRIGHT BETTING

    THE BIG HITTERS

    Darlington (15.0 at William Hill)finished last season well, just missing out on a play-off place to Northampton on goal difference. But they are an ambitious club and are looking for promotion at the earliest possible opportunity. But their best hopes may be the play-offs.
    Verdict: Promotion possible, via play-offs maybe?

    Wycombe Wanderers (13.0 at Bet 365) are a team with some ambition. John Gorman, the former right-hand man of Glenn Hoddle, and manager in his own right at Swindon and Gillingham is aiming to drag them up by their bootstraps next season.
    Kevin Betsy has joined and Rob Lee may stay, which is good news. The money is in place for more signings, too, so it could be an interesting season at the Causeway Stadium.
    Verdict: Very live wire prospects

    Macclesfield (13.0 at William Hill) look likely to have a very settled squad next season with a number of players already signing their future to the Silkmen. Manager Brian Horton got the side to the play-offs last season and may go one better in his second full season in charge.
    Verdict: Macc are main challengers

    Oxford United (19.0 at William Hill) are being as predatory as they have always been at this level. Manager Brian Talbot, who made his name as the Alex Ferguson of the non leagues with Rushden and Diamonds, has already sign four players and plans to up the ante as the season gets closer. They have an ambitious chairman and plan to return to the top half of the leagues. Is this their season?
    Verdict: Could be champions, could be mid-table?

    THE NEARLY MEN

    Northampton (7.0 at Bet 365) are uneasy favourites to win League Two in 2006.The Cobblers finished 7th and lost in a play-off semi-final to Southend United who were eventually promoted to League One. Much of Northampton's campaign will depend on finding a reliable central defensive pair after their captain Chris Willmott joined rivals Oxford on a free.
    Verdict: Difficult to see them justifying favouritism

    Relegated Wrexham (10.0 at William Hill) are rightly strongly fancied to return to League One at the first time of asking. The bare fact of the matter is that if they had not been docked 10 points for entering administration they would not have been relegated. Finance will obviously play a part, but the Welsh club is still in there fighting the evil property developers and their minions.
    Verdict: God willing for Wrexham

    THE DISAPPOINTERS

    Last season's play-off final losers Lincoln City (13.0 at Bet 365) may have missed their chance of success for the time being as stronger teams are preferred. Ten players have rejected contracts with the club and one can only imagine that their promising boss Keith Alexander may be off pretty soon, too.
    Verdict: Miserable season for Lincoln

    Peterborough (15.0 at William Hill) are in a transitional period after their relegation last season and the promise that Barry Fry is finally ready to walk away from the club. Of course, he still wants paying and until the great lump gets his dough, Peterborough will be found drifting. One for next season, maybe?
    Verdict: Not for backing this year

    Torquay (13.0 at Bet 365) spent their first season out of the bottom flight in 13 years last season and almost stayed out of the basement. But a last day defeat consigned them back to the bottom. They may struggle this year as the basement league has progressed somewhat.
    Verdict: Play-offs at best

    THE OUTSIDE CHANCERS

    Leyton Orient (21.0 at Bet 365) are a side who hope to be going places. A ground under development and a squad that can beat anyone in the league on their day. Just a few more faces added to the current crop could bring results next season.
    Verdict: Worth a punt

    Barnet (26.0 at Bet 365) could be a real surprise next season. They won the Conference doing handstands and many a Conference side has managed back-to-back promotions. The loss of Martin Allen as boss will put a lot of punters off, but it didn't put their promotion charge off, so it shouldn't affect where we put our money.
    Verdict: Could get promoted by a close shave

    Sometimes the bigger a club's support at this level, the higher the belief – and that can make a big difference. Bristol Rovers (17.0 at William Hill) have a huge support for this level who have the knack of making them seem almost invincible when they play well.
    After a few years in the wilderness, could this be Bristol Rovers' year?
    Verdict: A season of cheer for Rovers?

    With a new Icelandic manager it make take time for Notts County (26.0 at William Hill) to adjust, but they have the ability to be real contenders for at least a play-off place, if things go right.
    The history is there and the pedigree and the desire. If they can put it all together, we may have some value on our hands.
    Verdict: Proper dark horses

    STUCK IN THE MIDDLE

    Carlisle (21.0 at Bet 365) have had a renaissance in one year in the Conference, but will still be happy just to avoid the bitter memories that years of relegation battles brought them. Mid-table will do nicely
    Bury (51.0 at Bet 365) may start the season slowly as speculation increases about the involvement of the Neville clan, but are too good to go down. A spell in the middle and a push for promotion next year maybe?
    Chester (41.0 at William Hill) are certain to struggle, but not half as much as people think they will.
    It looked like a play-off push was on the cards last season, but Cheltenham (34.0 at William Hill)proved far too erratic. If they don't start well next season it could be a dangerous dalliance with the drop. But more likely just mid-table boredom again.
    Rochdale (26.0 at Bet 365) got close to the play-offs thanks to the goals of Grant Holt, but he is likely to be on his way in the summer. If he does go, what remains for Rochdale?

    Both Grimsby (29.0 at William Hill) and Mansfield (26.0 at Bet 365) will play some nice football at times – without troubling either end of the table.

    THE ALSO RANS

    It is hard to imagine Rushden and Diamonds (81.0 at Bet 365) making any inroads on League Two now that their chairman has left them in the lurch.
    Shrewsbury (67.0 at Bet 365) could well go down.
    Stockport (15.0 at William Hill)were so abysmal in relegation last season that this season could end up being a real struggle for them.
    Boston United (34.0 at Bet 365)have found life in the leagues an increasing struggle. Is this season they return from whence they came?

    VERDICT

    Champions: Wycombe Wanderers (13.0 at Bet 365)
    Promoted: Wrexham, Oxford United
    Play-offs: Barnet, Bristol Rovers, Darlington, Notts County
    Bottom three: Rushden and Diamonds, Shrewsbury, Boston United

  • What do you think? How's your luck? E-mail me your comments at ballselecta@blueyonder.co.uk