At the start of the season Chesterfield were the vast majority of people’s favourite to win League 2, and after eight games the Spireites sit top of the table, unbeaten and on 22 points. They have recorded very impressive wins over fellow promotion hopefuls Oxford United and Portsmouth, whilst also beating Wimbledon, who have so far exceeded all expectations and sit 3rd.
They have only conceded three goals, so clearly they boast a strong defence, which is complimented by an attacking force who have scored 14 goals. They also have the best player in League 2 in their ranks; Gary Roberts. Roberts has already picked up the Player of the Month award for August and has scored four goals. Alongside him are players such as Ian Evatt and Gary McSheffrey who possess experience and ability in abundance. They face a stern test of their promotion credentials in the coming weeks with home games against Mansfield and Burton either side of trips to Morecambe and Fleetwood and if they come through those tests still top, I doubt that anyone will be able to match them as the season progresses.
Making up the rest of the automatic promotions places are Fleetwood and Wimbledon. Fleetwood were expected to stamp their authority on League 2 last season, but ended up in mid-table so the improvement that has already been made will be welcome at Highbury Stadium. So far they have ruthlessly disposed of Dagenham & Redbridge and Torquay United, and with six wins on the board even defeats to Wimbledon and Burton haven’t slowed down their storm to second place. Wimbledon, who were part of a relegation scrap which went to the wire last season, will be extremely pleased with their start. The Dons have secured five wins so far, including a 2-0 victory over Fleetwood, and with three games coming up against teams struggling at the bottom of the table, Neil Ardley’s men will be confident of continuing their fantastic start to the season.
Oxford United, Mansfield Town, Wycombe Wanderers and Rochdale make up the rest of the top seven. Oxford have scored more goals than anyone else in the League and they have enjoyed some fantastic away days, with thumping wins over Portsmouth and Torquay, despite stuttering home form. The likes of Johnny Mullins and Alfie Potter have been terrific in steering Oxford into the play-off places. Mansfield’s return to The Football League has been magnificent. After a slow start, they have picked up wins against Dagenham, Northampton, Wycombe and York. Striker Sam Clucas is in fine form and the experience that they boast throughout the team should help then to continue their strong run of form.
Wycombe and Rochdale have made almost identical starts to the season; they are level on points, games won, drawn and lost and goal difference. Both teams were hopeful of improving on mid-table finishes last season and, after recruiting strongly in the summer, both teams will be very happy with their starts. They play each other this coming Saturday and, with very little to choose between the two so far, the match has all the ingredients to be a cracker.
With only nine points between second and seventeenth, League 2 is already looking very tasty. And with teams such as Burton Albion, Southend United and Portsmouth set to join the teams at the top as the season progresses, the race for promotion could go down as one of the best for a very long time.