With less than two months until the curtain comes down on what has been a remarkable season in League 2, the run-in is looking very exciting at both ends of the table. There are less than ten games to go and things are still wide open – expect a frenetic finish for all involved. This article looks at the top end of the table and assess who is the more likely to be playing League 1 football next season.
Currently sitting at the top of the table are Rochdale. They went top following a midweek victory against Northampton and consolidated their position with a strong 2-0 win against Wycombe yesterday. Their main man this season has been Scott Hogan, who has rightfully been earning plaudits from fans and experts alike, but even without him (as they currently are) they are strong, solid and well-organised – exactly what you need to be successful in League 2.
The team who are most likely to catch The Dale is Scunthorpe. The Iron have one of the strongest squads that League 2 has seen in several years as they boast the likes of Sam Slocombe, Paddy Madden, Gary McSheffrey and Sam Winnall, who has been one of the most potent strikers in the league this season. Given that they are on a 22-match unbeaten run, it is amazing that they are not clear at the top of the league but too many draws have hindered their progress. Promotion seems almost a certainty – to win the league, they need to cut out the draws and hope Rochdale suffer a blip.
Chesterfield are currently in 3rd place and will probably be disappointed with the way the last few weeks have hindered their title chances. Inexplicable defeats to Wycombe and Accrington have dented their chances of winning the league but, since they are six points clear of 4th placed Fleetwood, it is likely that they be plying their trade in League 1 next term. In their ranks they have League 2’s Player of the Season in Gary Roberts who accompanies strength in defence and in attack. Two wins in eight is a worry but, if they can turn the tide, they could still be in the hunt for the title.
Whilst it is unlikely the top three will be breached (perhaps even the top six), very little has been settled beyond doubt in the hunt for the Play-Offs. Fleetwood and Burton sit 4th and 5th respectively both on 61 points – it would take a minor miracle for them to fall out of the Play-Offs but it not beyond reasonable doubt, as has been proved by Southend who now sit 9th after a hugely disappointing run of form which has seen them waste a seven point advantage over the chasing pack. A similar dramatic upturn in fortunes has seen York City hurtle from a relegation battle to the upper echelons on the division and they have a very real chance of winning promotion. 6th placed Oxford have a four point lead over the chasing pack and will be confident of finishing in the top seven.
The teams outside of the top seven, but in with a chance of promotion, are Plymouth, Southend (see above), Dagenham & Redbridge and, possibly even, Hartlepool. Plymouth have had a very successful 2014 so far and have given themselves a real chance of getting into the Play-Offs. It hasn’t always been easy for John Sheridan’s side this season but their recent form has been exemplary and they are in a very strong position. Dagenham were certainly not expected to be anywhere near the Play-Offs this season but the form of Zavon Hines, Rhys Murphy and, more recently, loanee Luke Norris has ensured their very successful season. They are five points off of the Play-Offs but unbeaten in six with a very real chance of a top seven finish. Hartlepool might be considered to be long-shots since they are in 11th and six points of the pace but, with the attacking talent that they have, anything is possible. 12th placed Newport looked one of the favourites to go up at one point but a run of poor form and match postponements appears to have scuppered their chances.
Predicted table (top-half)
|11||Dagenham & Redbridge|