League Two club-by-club preview pt2: from Mansfield to York

Gareth Ainsworth, Wycombe Manager

Gareth Ainsworth, Wycombe Manager - Credit: Archant

Second of a two-part look at clubs in League Two this season

Mark Hughes has signed for Stevenage. Photo: Stevenage FC

Mark Hughes has signed for Stevenage. Photo: Stevenage FC - Credit: Archant

Mansfield Town

Last season: 21st League Two

Manager: Adam Murray (December 2014)

Key signings: Matt Green (Birmingham City), Chris Beardsley (Stevenage), Nicky Hunt (Accrington Stanley), Craig Westcarr (Portsmouth), Krystian Pearce (Torquay United).


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Key departures: Simon Heslop, Ricky Ravenhill, Lee Beevers (Lincoln City), Matt Rhead (Lincoln City), Rakish Bingham (Hartlepool Utd).

This season: Mansfield boss Adam Murray has registered himself as a player this season, but hopes that he won’t have to pull on his kit for a game. He probably won’t need too either as this summer the 33-year-old has brought in 14 new faces and could even add to that with a loanee or two. The Stags finished 21st last season so it is no surprise to see a summer of change at Field Mill. Chris Beardsley arrives from Stevenage while goalkeeper Scott Shearer joins from Crewe. Nicky Hunt and Lee Collins should help shore up the defence, while this week Krystian Pearce also put pen to paper following a successful trial. Matt Green is also back at the club after two years spent at Birmingham City.

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Morecambe

Last season: 11th league Two

Manager: Jim Bentley (May 2011)

Key signings: Lee Molyneux (Tranmere Rovers), Adam Dugdale (Tranmere Rovers), Peter Murphy (Wycombe), Adam Wildig (Shrewsbury), Tom Barkhuizen (Blackpool).

Key departures: Ryan Williams (Brentford), Padraig Amond (Grimsby Town), Mark Hughes (Stevenage), Jack Redshaw (Blackpool).

This season: Morecambe finished just eight points off the play-offs last season, and will be hoping for a concerted push again this campaign. They have acquitted themselves well with the likes of Peter Murphy and Adam Dugdale coming in. They have also kept hold of some key personnel. Joint top scorer Kevin Ellison remains, as does 20-year-old Paul Mullen who signed a three-year deal with the club last September. However, they have lost Jack Redshaw to League One side Blackpool for an undisclosed fee on a two-year deal.

Newport County

Last season: 9th League Two

Manager: Terry Butcher (April 2015)

Key signings: Matt Taylor (Cheltenham), Alex Rodman (Gateshead), Danny Holmes (Tranmere), Scott Boden (Halifax), Aaron Hayden (Wolves, loan).

Key departures: Ryan Jackson (Gillingham), Adam Chapman (Mansfield), Jamie Stephens (Barnet), Shaun Jeffers (Yeovil Town), Michael Flynn.

This season: Newport are among the bookies’ favourites to go down, which may come as a surprise as last season they finished ninth in the league. Les Scadding, the £45m Euromillions winner, has decided to step down as chairman, and that seems to have influenced bookmakers’ thinking. The club has also seen an exodus of the squad that helped them to a top half finish last season including defender Ryan Jackson, who rejected a new deal. This summer they have brought in a new manager, Terry Butcher, but he faces a tough task to repeat last season’s ninth place finish.

Northampton Town

Last season: 12th League Two

Manager: Chris Wilder (January 2014)

Key signings: Alfie Potter (AFC Wimbledon), Ryan Clarke (Oxford United), Adam Smith (Leicester City), Sam Hoskins (Yeovil), Nicky Adams (Bury), David Buchanan (Preston NE).

Key departures: Lee Collins (Mansfield), Ross Perry (Brechin), Ben Tozer (Yeovil).

This season: Northampton have gone for experience in this summer’s transfer market, bringing in the likes of David Buchanan and Nicky Adams. They’ve added width, while in goalkeeper Ryan Clarke they have a man who has worked with manager Chris Wilder previously at Oxford United. Adam Smith, who was sacked this summer by Leicester City for his part in a racist sex video, has also joined. Lawson D’Ath will be instrumental in any success the Cobblers have this season, and while Marc Richards is on the wrong side of 30 he showed last season with his 18 goals that he still knows what it takes to get the goals. Expect double figures from him again this term.

Notts County

Last season: 21st League One

Manager: Ricardo Moniz (April 2015)

Key signings: Jon Stead (Huddersfield Town), Graham Burke (Aston Villa), Kyle De Silva (Crystal Palace), Gill Swerts (NAC Breda), Scott Loach (Rotherham), Filip Valencic (Monza).

Key departures: Fabian Spiess (Torquay Utd), Drissa Traore (Swindon Town), Garry Thompson (Wycombe), Hayden Mullins, Shaun Harrad.

This season: With 18 new signings and counting, Ricardo Moniz has stockpiled for the tough winter months ahead. Relegated last term, County will be expecting good things this season from the former Red Bull Salzburg and 1860 Munich boss but he will have to rely on his new-look squad gelling, and gelling quickly. Of the new men in, former Belgium international midfielder Gill Swerts is the most eye-catching. Thierry Audel and Civard Sprockel both signed just this week, while veteran striker Jon Stead has been added to the attack. Former Manchester United goalkeeper Roy Carroll also remains at the club but at the rate of players in and out anything could still happen before kick-off against Stevenage.

Oxford United

Last season: 13th League Two

Manager: Michael Appleton (July 2014)

Key signings: Ryan Taylor (Portsmouth), Liam Sercombe (Exeter City), Sam Slocombe (Scunthorpe United), George Baldock (MK Dons).

Key departures: Will Hoskins (Exeter City), Jamie Ashdown, John Campbell.

This season: An eight-match unbeaten run at the end of the season wasn’t enough to get Oxford into the League Two play-offs – the damage was done well before then – but it should have them champing at the bit at the start of this campaign. They have brought in the talented Liam Sercombe from Exeter City, while at the same time recruiting Ryan Taylor, who made more than 40 appearances for Portsmouth last season. Callum O’Dowda could be a real star for them this season, too. He’s still only 20 but already has more than 50 club appearances to his name. Boss Michael Appleton has also reduced the size of the pitch at Oxford after measuring it himself with a metre wheel and discovering that it was the size of Wembley’s.

Plymouth Argyle

Last season: 7th League Two

Manager: Derek Adams (June 2015)

Key signings: Gregg Wylde (St Mirren), Graham Carey (Ross County), Jake Jervis (Ross County), Gary Sawyer (Leyton Orient), Josh Simpson (Crawley Town).

Key departures: Dominic Blizzard, Jason Banton (Wycombe), Anthony O’Connor (Burton Albion).

This season: New boss Derek Adams is eyeing a promotion push this season at Plymouth. Argyle have options up top with Rueben Reid and Ryan Brunt likely to fight it out for a central starting place in a 4-3-3 formation. Reid is back from a foot injury he picked up towards the end of last season, while Brunt will be hoping to hit the ground running this term. Graham Carey, from Adams’ former club Ross County, is likely to provide some of the ammunition, while the Pilgrims have brought in Gregg Wylde from St Mirren to add width to the team.

Portsmouth

Last season: 16th League Two

Manager: Paul Cook (May 2015)

Key signings: Gareth Evans (Fleetwood Town), Adam McGurk (Burton Albion), Enda Stevens (Aston Villa), Kyle Bennett (Doncaster Rovers), Adam Barton (Coventry City), Michael Doyle (Sheffield Utd), Kal Naismith (Accrington Stanley), Christian Burgess (Peterborough).

Key departures: Jed Wallace (Wolves), Paul Robinson (AFC Wimbledon), Craig Westcarr (Mansfield Town), Ryan Taylor (Oxford United).

This season: Among the pre-season favourites, again, Pompey fans will probably look towards this season as their best chance yet of climbing out of League Two. And that comes down to their new manager, Paul Cook. He’s been here before with Chesterfield, of course, but has seen the potential in a Portsmouth side that underachieved last season. Kal Naismith and Enda Stevens are among the quality imports, but the loss of top scorer Jed Wallace to Wolves is a big blow. Jack Whatmough, 20, played more than 20 times in defence last season and is their next bright young thing.

Stevenage

Last season: 6th League Two

Manager: Teddy Sheringham (May 2015)

Key signings: Fraser Franks (Luton Town), Mark Hughes (Morecambe), Brett Williams (Aldershot), Steven Schumacher (Fleetwood Town), Tom Hitchcock (MK Dons, loan), Jamie McCombe (Doncaster).

Key departures: Roarie Deacon (Crawley Town), Chris Beardsley (Mansfield Town), Jon Ashton (Crawley Town), Harry Worley (Hartlepool Utd), Bira Dembele (Barnet), Darius Charles (Burton Albion), Simon Walton (Crawley Town).

This season: Last season Stevenage’s injury-riddled squad probably over-achieved in reaching the League Two play-offs, but despite a top-six finish Graham Westley’s contract wasn’t renewed in the summer. Instead, Boro brought in former Manchester United and Spurs striker Teddy Sheringham for his first foray into management. This summer has seen plenty of movement out of the club, but as yet only five new players brought in on permanent deals plus Tom Hitchcock on a one-month loan deal. The club is light up top and they do need another striker or two. Pleasingly for the fans, many of their best performers last season – Tom Pett, Dean Wells, Dean Parrett – all remain.

Wycombe Wanderers

Last season: 4th League Two

Manager: Gareth Ainsworth (November 2012)

Key signings: Stephen McGinn (Dundee), Anthony Stewart (Crewe), Garry Thompson (Notts County), Jason Banton (Plymouth).

Key departures: Steven Craig (Dumbarton), Matt McClure (Dagenham), Peter Murphy (Morecambe).

This season: Two seasons ago Wycombe were hanging on to their Football League life, finishing 22nd in League Two on goal difference to avoid the drop to the Conference. So the improvement last year to finish fourth and reach the play-off final was a remarkable achievement, though of course defeat to Southend United will still hurt. The signing of Stephen McGinn is an exciting one for the club this season, as Dundee wanted him to remain north of the border, while veteran Garry Thompson joins the club from Notts County.

Yeovil Town

Last season: 24th League One

Manager: Paul Sturrock (April 2015)

Key signings: Ben Tozer (Northampton), Ryan Bird (Cambridge Utd), Shaun Jeffers (Newport), Jack Compton (Hartlepool), Wes Fogden (Portsmouth), Harry Cornick (Bournemouth, loan).

Key departures: Nathan Ralph (Newport), Joel Grant, Sam Foley (Port Vale), Sam Hoskins (Northampton Town), Craig Eastmond.

This season: It will take a lot of hard work for a club to recover from successive relegations, but that is the job new manager Paul Sturrock has on his hands. The Glovers have brought in 16 players over the summer as the new boss looks to stop the rut and push Town into the top half of the table this season. Wes Fogden joins from Portsmouth, Ryan Bird has arrived after leaving Cambridge United while Ben Tozer joins from Northampton Town. The club has also signed Harry Cornick on a month’s loan.

York City

Last season: 18th League Two

Manager: Russ Wilcox (October 2014)

Key signings: Eddie Nolan (Scunthorpe Utd), Scott Flinders (Hartlepool), James Berrett (Yeovil), Vadaine Oliver (Crewe).

Key departures: Ryan Jarvis (Lowestoft), Daniel Parslow (Cheltenham), Wes Fletcher (Motherwell), Jason Mooney (Accrington).

This season: The departure of strikers Ryan Jarvis and Wes Fletcher leaves York a little light up top this season, though their actual top scorer last term was Jake Hyde with nine goals. Vadaine Oliver has been brought in, while this week they also signed Frickley Athletic striker Reece Thompson. They will also rely on Luke Summerfield, the former Shrewsbury midfielder, who had a decent season for the club last term.

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