Last season culminated with the promotion of League Two’s big four – Plymouth, Portsmouth, Blackpool and Doncaster – and while the likes of Swindon Town and Coventry City will be mixing it in the division this year, it won’t be easy to go straight back up.
Relegation battles in League Two can sometimes mean the difference between staying in business and going bust, so expect to see a highly-competitive 46 games over the next nine months – we’re in for a treat.
Big-spending Mansfield head the market at 11/2 after making half a squad’s worth of acquisitions, and with an experienced gaffer in Steve Evans they could well finish the season top. But they did end a huge 21 points off the summit last season and a lot of signings means a lot of gelling is needed.
I prefer to take a poke on Nathan Jones’ Luton at 8/1. They finished 10 points off the top last season in fourth but lost just nine games in League Two – the fewest in the division, which is some achievement considering they were up against the likes of Plymouth, Portsmouth and Doncaster.
If that wasn’t enough, the Hatters have added striker James Collins, who hit 20 goals in League Two at relegation-threatened Crawley Town, plus they still have the impressive Danny Hylton up top.
Their fellow promotion hopefuls Coventry City (12/1) also have a new frontman in ex-Sheffield United star Marc McNulty. If manager Mark Robins can get him firing they should be right up there, and he could be competing in the top scorer charts, but Luton seem a safer bet.
Some may laugh at this, but Stevenage stand out as a bit of a bet for promotion at 6/1. They finished three points off the play-offs last season and it certainly seems to be a weaker division this time around.
What’s more, the Boro have so far kept hold of last season’s 20-goal man Matt Godden and have Northern Ireland Under-21 star Ben Kennedy pulling the strings in midfield. You heard it here first.
Despite losing a couple of key players, I also like the look of Colchester at 9/2 for promotion. They’ve managed five wins out of seven in pre-season and have acquired French striker Mikael Mandron who was signed by Championship side Wigan in January after scoring goals at Eastleigh.
OK, so Mandron in League One didn’t work out, but if Colchester manager John McGreal can get his forward’s va va voom back then he could be the Thierry Henry of League Two. Granted, I may be making this bit sound a bit more Hollywood than it is!
John Akinde and Collins are understandably the joint favourites to top the goalscoring charts this season after netting 26 and 20 goals for Barnet and Crawley respectively in the last campaign.
With Collins joining Luton he should get the extra service he needs to help fire himself up the charts, so he’s my main pick.
The only reason I haven’t opted for Collins’ new strike partner Hylton – who netted 22 for Luton last season and played fewer minutes – is because he’s got an injury problem and might not make the start of the season, otherwise I’d be on him at 12s.
At the tougher end of the table, Morecambe look set to struggle in League Two this season and are the outright 9/4 favourites for the drop into the National League. Fair enough, but I can’t wait 46 games to see if I’m going to win a 9/4 shot.
But I have spotted a price I do fancy – 5/1 for Yeovil to sadly sink deeper into the mire. Last season, they were 20th in League Two – their lowest finish in 14 years since promotion from the then-Conference – just four points above the relegation zone.
To add insult to injury, the Glovers haven’t been helped by Matthew Dolan and Keith Dawson moving to fellow relegation battlers Newport County and Cheltenham Town, and I can’t see them having much to cheer about in Somerset this season. There isn’t even Glastonbury next year!
Winner – Luton Town 8/1 (Bwin – bet HERE)
Relegation – Yeovil 5/1 (Boylesports – bet HERE)
Specials – Luton and Mansfield top two in any order 20/1 (Sky Bet – bet HERE)
Good luck and follow The Set Odds for more tips!