Football League end of season round-up: League Two

by Mike Moore

Saturday, June 2nd, 2012
 

DiCanio's Swindon reigned supreme this season

The final piece of our end of season round-up casts us towards League Two, often a proving ground for exciting new managers and players – but how well did my predictions pan out?

Promoted

Actual – Swindon Town, Shrewsbury Town, Crawley Town, Crewe Alexandra

Predicted – Crawley Town, Rotherham, Bristol Rovers, Plymouth.

Wow. I certainly didn’t impress here (I also tipped Bradford, Port Vale and Northampton…), but one out of four isn’t that bad!

Crawley were many people’s favourites for promotion back in August, as they had the momentum and the money needed to further push through the league. And they did not fail to disappoint, powering to the top of League Two and beginning a tight battle with Swindon. The loss of Matt Tubbs and Tyrone Barnett in January made them stumble, though, and ultimately the Red Devils gained promotion by the tightest of margins.

Swindon were probably dark horses for many, but ably stewarded by League Two’s craziest manager (some say the Ian Holloway of the division) Paulo DiCanio’s men romped to the title, with players such as Paul Benson and Matt Ritchie proving the Robins should again prosper next season.

Shrewsbury Town have been the nearly men of the division for many years, so it was great to see them finally return to League One for the first time in some years. Crewe were a proper dark horse this season, coming from way out to gain the last play-off spot on the last day of the season before pipping favourites Cheltenham Town to gain promotion. Despite the absence of Dario Gradi, who stepped aside in November to concentrate on youth development, their much-vaunted youth team including current superstar Nick Powell came good.

Relegated

Actual – Macclesfield, Hereford

Predicted – Macclesfield, Barnet

At least this prediction was a touch more accurate. This division’s relegation spots are often harsher than the rest of the leagues, as the drop into the Conference is something no team wants to have. Despite Plymouth seemingly being dead and buried throughout the first half of the season, they produced an incredible turn of form to clinch survival, and once Macclesfield slipped to the bottom of the table, it seemed unlikely they would ever get out. A tough rebuilding process awaits, as fans of Stockport County, Lincoln City and more will attest.

The second relegation spot was filled by Hereford, who fought a terrific five-way battle with Barnet, Plymouth, Northampton and Bradford City. All of these clubs filled a relegation spot at one point, but ultimately it was the Bulls who succumbed on the last day of the season. Barnet’s appointment of Martin Allen proved very savvy as he once again saved his team from relegation. Hereford, however, proved less able, returning to the Conference after a five season spell in the Football League, and may well struggle next season.

Player of the season – Matt Ritchie (Swindon Town)

The former Portsmouth man has been in scintillating form for Paulo DiCanio’s men this season, contributing 13 goals from the wing and forming a key part of their promotion push.

Team of the Season

Steve Phillips (Crewe), Bilel Mohsni (Southend), Shane Cansdell-Sherriff (Shrewsbury Town), Kane Ferdinand (Southend), Alan Bennett (Cheltenham Town), Matt Ritchie (Swindon Town), Sergio Torres (Crawley Town), Nick Powell (Crewe), Ryan Hall (Southend), Izale McLeod (Barnet), Lewis Grabban (Rotherham)

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