What are the best bets from League Two this season? We take a look at who could get promoted and pick a team to get relegated in the 2016/17 season.
League Two starts again on Saturday with another competitive season expected and another season of Portsmouth starting as favourites to leave the division, can Pompy finally get out of League Two?
Can Portsmouth finally get promotion from League Two? They're favourites to do so again this season.
Pompey seem to shorten each season for promotion, but they have recruited very effectively this pre-season. David Forde arrives with bags of experience between the sticks for a side who struggled in this area last season.
Matt Clarke and Tom Davis arrive at the back along the experience of Drew Talbot whilst Carl Baker should be a classy addition at this level. Danny Rose arrives from promotion winning Northampton whilst both Michael Smith and Milan Lalkovic drop a level to come to Fratton Park. Curtis Main should be a real menace at this level too.
Good additions which complement the nucleus of the squad they already possess and with Paul Cook in charge, this should be the year they return to League One. But we’ve said this before and it makes me slightly nervous backing them.
Doncaster were initially my thoughts back in June for a League Two promotion prediction, but they’ve suffered somewhat of an injury crisis coming into the new season and that could see them get off to a slow start. Gary McSheffrey and Andy Williams should be very effective at this level though and there’s an experienced head in Andy Butler at the back.
Leyton Orient look a good bet to win promotion from League Two this season.
At a slightly larger price though, I’d prefer to take Leyton Orient. Yes, there are still one or two question marks over the volatility of the owners, but in Andy Hessenthaler, they have an experience, steady hand who should be able to guide the side back to League One.
Jay Simpson and Ollie Palmer linked up well at the end of last season and they’re joined by Jordan Bowery up top. French defender Yvan Erichot comes with a decent reputation whilst Liam Kelly and Robbie Weir should be a brilliant central midfield combination at this level. The former arrives from Oldham where he was captain whilst the latter was on the books of promoted Burton Albion. Leyton Orient to be promoted is my first League Two ante-post betting tip at odds of 5/2 with William Hill.
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Perhaps their squad is still a little light in attack, but Carlisle should be a real threat this season. The Cumbrians had a decent campaign, but couldn’t quite reach the play-offs. They weren’t helped by the flooding of Brunton Park, but it helped bring the squad together and I think they have added sensibly.
Shaun Brisley should add plenty of experience at the back whilst a plethora of midfielders have arrived.
Jamie Devitt can be brilliant on his day whilst similarly Nicky Adams need to add consistency to his game, but could be unplayable. Mike Jones is a solid pro as is Russell Penn whilst Reggie Lambe showed decent quality at this level during his stay at Mansfield.
Charlie Wyke and Jabo Ibehre have got goals in them and they are joined by Shaun Miller, who netted regularly for Morecambe last year. They could be a potent front three.
Keith Curle knows this level and they could be a real contender. Carlisle to be promoted are my second promotion prediction for League Two this season, the odds are 4/1 with Paddy Power.
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I don’t think Plymouth will be quite as strong as last year, but they’ll be sniffing around the top six. As will Cambridge United, who have added the goals of Joe Pigott, which could be a masterstroke by Shaun Derry. They will be strong.
I really fear for the top two in the relegation market. Morecambe were woeful at the back last season and haven’t shown much improvement in pre-season. They have a restricted budget and although the signing of Michael Rose should add some experience, they still look a little short. They’ve had to rely on loanees largely and although Alex Whitmore and Luke Conlan could be revelations, it’s a chance they have to take. Dean Winnard is an improvement certainly, but losing Shaun Miller is a blow. Tom Barkhuizen and Paul Mullin should get between 10 and 15 goals each but will that be enough? Midfield enforcer Kevin Ellison isn’t getting any younger whilst Lee Molyneux can blow hot and cold. Peter Murphy is a steady head though.
But, at the prices, Newport look the most vulnerable. They are managed by Warren Feeney, who is relatively inexperienced. Bringing Paul Bignot and Jon Parkin back into the Football League doesn’t look massively impressive and few teams will be terrified of the beast at this level.
A flurry of new signings will have to settle in quickly with Joss Labadie probably being the pick of the bunch. He is prone to being overrun in the centre of the park though and will need someone tough alongside him. Sean Rigg, Jack Compton and Jennison Myrie-Williams are the epitome of part time wingers, sometimes brilliant, often anonymous. It’s likely to be a long hard season and so Newport to be relegated is my next League Two prediction at odds of 4/1 with William Hill.
Blackpool are another former Premier League team now down in League Two.
And finally, Blackpool look too big at even money to finish in the top half of the League Two table. Gary Bowyer previously managed in the Championship and is a good appointment for the turbulent Tangerines. He has signed Jamille Matt, Kyle Vassell, Danny Pugh, Andy Taylor and Colin Daniel. They’ve looked decent in pre-season, going unbeaten and in Mark Cullen and Danny Philliskirk they have players who have scored at this level or above. Blackpool to finish in the top half is my final betting tip at odds of Evens with Betfred.
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