League One Preview: Part 2
The 2014/15 season of League One, England’s third tier of soccer, kicks off on August 9. How well do you know your teams?
After previewing the first eight teams in League One, here are the next eight. The teams covered this time are Doncaster Rovers, Fleetwood Town, Gillingham, Leyton Orient, Milton Keynes Dons, Notts County, Oldham Athletic, and Peterborough United.
Doncaster Rovers – 2013/2014 Position: 22nd (Championship)
What can I say? Doncaster had the same problem as the other teams relegated from the Championship — no scoring and giving up tons of goals. Hence the reason why they were relegated. So far in this transfer window they certainly don’t look like a team wanting to get back to the Championship. They have allowed midfielders Mark Duffy and David Cotterill to leave, as well as forwards Chris Brown and Billy Paynter. If you add in the loss of Billy Sharp because he was on loan from Southampton, all of those people account for approximately half of all goals for the team last season. So far the team hasn’t brought anyone in but we can’t blame manager Paul Dickov for the team’s lack of business. Former Chairman John Ryan and One Direction star Louis Tomlinson were supposed to take over the club but the deal fell through leaving the team without owners who can inject cash to get the team promoted. The Rovers are going to struggle this season and expect them to be sitting mid-table at best.
Fleetwood Town – 2013/2014 Position: 4th (League Two)
For me, Fleetwood Town is a club that has done it right. Two years ago was their first season in the Football League. The club has gone from an average attendance of 134 ten years ago to 2,819 last season. Last season they were rewarded for their hard work by winning the League Two Playoff final against Burton Albion. However, last year’s success won’t be carried over to this season. Midfielder Josh Morris is back on loan from Blackburn, and forward Jamie Proctor signed for Fleetwood after scoring 15 goals in 50 games at Crawley Town. As much as I would like to see The Cod Army stay up, I don’t think it will happen. When the end of the season rolls around expect them to be in the bottom four.
Gillingham – 2013/2014 Position: 17th
The Gills were able to stay up after their first season back in League One and it looks like the team is heading for another season in the division. Forward Danny Kedwell is back after two years of being the team leader in scoring. Manager Peter Taylor has brought in a trio of young, talented, and experienced (at this level) players. Winger Ben Dickenson was signed from Brighton and has been on loan at Chesterfield, AFC Wimbledon and Northampton Town. Luke Norris is a forward from Brentford and has played at Boreham Wood, Northampton Town, and Dagenham & Redbridge. Finally, they have added Ireland U21-international, former Sunderland youth academy player, defender John Egan. Most recently Egan played at Southend United. By holding onto their top players and bringing in new blood Gillingham will move up the table from 17th to top half.
Leyton Orient – 2013/2014 Position: 3rd
Last year was a heartbreaker for Leyton Orient. After being in first place almost every week during the first half of last season, they took a turn for the worse and ended up in 3rd place. They beat Peterborough in the semi-final only to be beaten by Rotherham United in the final, on penalties (3-4). However, this season may be the season they go up without any play-off drama. The majority of their squad is back and after having spent the previous year battling for automatic promotion, they are now harden professionals ready to take that experience and turn it into an exciting season for their fans. Two key losses during the transfer window were starting goalkeeper Jamie Jones and midfielder Moses Odubajo. While Jones turned down an extension and decided to sign for Preston North End, the Os received around £1 million from Brentford for Odubajo. So not all was lost. The team picked up goalkeeper Gary Woods, a former Manchester United youth player and backup at Watford. Additionally, they picked up journeyman midfielder Bradley Pritchard. All in all this looks like a good season for the club, and I predict they get automatically promoted.
Milton Keynes Dons – 2013/2014 Position: 10th
MK Dons fascinate me. Since their promotion to League One in 2008, they have stayed in the top half of the league and yet haven’t been promoted to the Championship. This season it looks like more of the same for The Dons. While manager Karl Robinson has a youthful squad made up of last year’s starters, there hasn’t been any moves made in the transfer window so far that says, “Yes, we are making a strong push for promotion.” They have relied on getting young players on loan from the top clubs, but is this a recipe for getting promoted? I’m not sure it is. That’s why I predict The Dons to stay where they are at, mid-table.
Notts County – 2013/2014 Position: 20th
Without a late push for points last season, Notts County wouldn’t even be in this preview. Last season, they spent 40 out of 46 weeks in the relegation zone. Of the weeks they weren’t down at the bottom, 4 were in the last 7 weeks. Last year’s top goal scorer with 14 league goals was Callum McGregor on loan from Celtic. James Spencer, a 22-year old kid from Leeds, might provide the necessary firepower to replace McGregor. Last season, he had scored 5 league goals in 13 appearances. However, with the loss of their starting keeper, Bartosz Bialkowski to Ipswich Town and starting centre-back Dean Leacock to Crawley Town, this will be the season The Magpies go down. Keep your eye on 22-year old left-back Blair Adams. He is a graduate of Sunderland’s academy and played well for Coventry City last season.
Oldham Athletic – 2013/2014 Position: 15th
League One staple Oldham Athletic had a mediocre season in 13/14 and is gearing up for another one. The team didn’t really excite fans with their scoring ability, yet didn’t give up too many goals. In this transfer window, they look to try some new faces up front in order to kick start their attack. Oldham let strikers Jonson Clarke-Harris and Charlie MacDonald go, and brought in William Gros and Amari Morgan-Smith. One signing that I find exciting for Oldham is the signing of Liam Kelly, a midfielder from Bristol City. He had a good spell at Kilmarnock before going to Bristol City, which was rewarded with his only cap for Scotland. After a tough injury, he never quite got back to full form. Look for him to make a comeback at Oldham and lead the team to a comfortable mid-table finish.
Peterborough United – 2013/2014 Position: 6th
Darren Ferguson led Peterborough to a respectable 6th place last season, only to lose to Leyton Orient 3-2 on aggregate in the play-off semi-finals. If you are a Posh fan, then you have to be excited about Britt Assombalonga. This kid is a monster. The 21-year old striker scored 23 goals in 43 league appearances. So far there has been very little discussion of this young prodigy being transferred, so its good news for the team. Playing up top with Britt will be new sigining Erhun Oztumer, a 23-year striker signed from non-league side Dulwich Hamlet. He scored 33 goals in 49 appearances (all competitions). With the excitement up front, I think Peterborough is one signing away from being a favorite for promotion. If Ferguson can shore up the back line with a signing or two, I think they are going up. Hopefully, he can get this done and the youngsters up front can continue to score. Expect The Posh to not fizz out during the middle of the season like last time and be hanging in or around 3rd place.
Keep an eye out for the third and final part of the League One Preview, as well as my predictions on where each of the teams will end up this season.