Wednesday, 3 October 2018

League 2: September Review (Machday 7 to 10)

September has passed in League 2 and with it saw excellent football, quality goals, new managers and changes at clubs. Lincoln are flying high at the top along with Newport and Exeter. While Macclesfield and Grimsby prop up the table after a disappointing start to the season.

The Imps of Lincoln are absolutely flying notching 25 points from their first 10 league games and Danny Cowley’s side look a real force to be reckoned with. Lincoln are soaring notching up a consistent winning run and look unstoppable right now. Cowley has used his non-league knowledge and football league contacts to boost his side during the transfer window and Cowley has created a nice blend of talent. They are playing with a confidence and swagger that can only be admired by the rest of League 2. Newport are also going strong under club legend Micky Flynn. The exiles are firmly making their football clear notching 22 points lying 2nd in the table. While they did suffer a 6-0 home defeat against Yeovil, they have picked up excellent results including their most recent coming back from 2-0 down to beat Cambridge 4-2. The likes of Jamille Matt, Dan Butler and Mickey Demetriou have been magnificent for Newport and no doubt their good form will be integral in keeping Newport’s excellent run going ahead of their October matches. Exeter make up the top 3 and Matt Taylor has made a wonderful impression with the Grecians so far notching 20 points in his first 10 league games as a manager. Taylor has made St James Park at fortress with the Grecians tasting defeat just once at home against leaders Lincoln. Despite that disappointing blemish, the Grecians are looking strong and proving a managerial change isn’t always a bad thing.

September has been an excellent month for Stevenage, Forest Green and Oldham. Dino Mammria completely transformed the Stevenage squad from last season and they have begun the season well sitting 4th in the table after the first 2 months of the season. They finished September with back to back wins and no doubt their good momentum will want to be brought into October. While Forest Green are having a magnificent season so far sitting pretty in the play-off places and are the only side in League 2 yet to lose this season. Mark Cooper has done a sensational job at the club and many thought it would be a difficult campaign for the club following the departure of Christian Doidge. However, they have strived in the face of adversity and are absolutely flying, and all credit goes to chairman Dale Vince, Mark Cooper and the playing staff. Forest Green will hope to remain on their crest of a wave during their October matches. Another side in decent form is Frankie Bunn’s Oldham. Bunn has done an excellent job in his first managerial job. The Lactics have re-built following their relegation and have started the season well ending September in the play-off places. They are proving a difficult side to beat with Oldham strong defensively but maybe don’t score as many goals as they should. Bunn will be delighted with their start and no doubt he will want that good momentum to continue during October.

September has also seen an influx of new managers with Michael Duff taking over at Cheltenham, Gabriele Cioffi taking over at Crawley while Harry Kewell has completed his first month in charge of Notts County. Its been a mixed start for all 3 of the new managers. Michael Duff has had a tough start in management with Cheltenham winless in his 3 games in charge of the Robins however, in Duff’s defence he has had to face high flying Lincoln and Exeter. His other game was a goalless draw at home to Crewe. Certainly, Duff is adapting to management and given time, Cheltenham will improve in the months ahead. Gabriele Cioffi has had a decent start in charge of Crawley winning 2 of his 3 games in charge so far. Crawley have both home games under Cioffi beating Morecambe and Yeovil but a defeat to Forest Green was sandwiched in between. Cioffi will be pleased with their start under him and no doubt will want the positive momentum to continue in October. However, Harry Kewell has struggled to get Notts County going so far since replacing Kevin Nolan. County are third from bottom and a conceding far too many goals which is costing them valuable points. Kewell’s first game was a complete nightmare as they were thrashed 5-1 at Exeter. However, Kewell got a crucial first win in their final match of September against Crewe. County need to kickstart their campaign and hopefully that win allows them too with promotion still very high on their agenda despite their very poor start. Kewell has also been active in the free agent window adding the likes of Jamie Turley to stiffen a very shaky defence. A clean sheet continues to allude County and Kewell must address this issue quickly to build a winning platform at the club.

September has not been kind for Cambridge, Grimsby or Crewe. Cambridge are sinking down the table at an alarming rate. Joe Dunne’s side are severely struggling to score goals and the pressure from the fans is increasing with the club performing well below expectations. Cambridge have notched just 8 points from their opening 10 games and the fans are growing impatient and frustrated at what they are seeing. Another side disappointing their fans is Crewe. David Artell’s side are winless in 9 since their 6-0 triumph over Morecambe. The Railwaymen are struggling in all areas of the pitch with goals lacking since that victory meaning wins are proving allusive. The pressure will increase on Artell if things don’t improve as October draws near. Grimsby are also struggling, and Michael Jolley must quickly get Grimsby going. The Mariners have notched just 1 win in 10 games and suffered 7 defeats. Michael Jolley’s side are struggling to find the net and their defence isn’t the most robust. Their form at Blundell Park is also a major concern with teams managing on a regular basis to take maximum points and Jolley must quickly address these issues otherwise the sack could be looming. Cambridge, Crewe and Grimsby will be hoping October offers rest bite in their dreadful form and ignites their failing seasons.

Another side having a tough month is Northampton and their month ended with a heavy 4-0 defeat to Mansfield which consequently cost Dean Austin his job. The Cobblers have been extremely disappointing and well off the pace and now a relegation battle is seemingly on their agenda once again. Northampton have turned to Keith Curle who is their 6th manager since Chris Wilder left for Sheffield United in 2016. Times are tough for Northampton and Curle must quickly stop their rot and find a winning formula to get Northampton going. Goals are proving an issue with the Cobblers struggling to find the net and not scoring goals means wins are unlikely to follow. Keith Curle is an experienced, excellent manager at this level after 3 successful seasons at Carlisle guiding them to consecutive top 10 finishes. He no doubt is an excellent appointment by chairman Kelvin Thomas but Curle must get them going fast starting against with a home game against Bury. Northampton have a good squad that needs motivation and confidence and no doubt Keith Curle will put his arm around a few players and try to install belief back into the whole football club. October could be the month where their season really takes off. We shall see whether Curle will be a success or not but given time he could be the right man to lead the Cobblers forward.

The only side left in League 2 without a win is Macclesfield. The Silkmen have notched just 3 points in their opening 10 games and the pressure is mounting on Mark Yates with the fans growing agitated and frustrated at the club’s style of play and the results on the pitch. The 8-0 hammering from Premier League West Ham in the Carabao Cup has angered fans and Yates is getting extremely desperate for a win with a team that does lack football league experience. Player and coach Danny Whitaker is doing his best both on and off the pitch but so far the Silkmen are pulling up very few trees and should the club have a winless October, than relegation could be inevitable and Yates who has plenty of experience managing the likes of Cheltenham will surely not last beyond October. Goals are not coming consistently, and they are lacking far too many goals meaning they must chase matches. The effort and commitment are there from the players and fans to back their team but, results must quickly come to ignite their season and get them pushing in the right direction. There is no doubt they are still adapting to a new manager after John Askey’s departure to Shrewsbury, but a win must come sooner rather than later. Will it come in October? Only time will tell for the Silkmen.

September was entertaining in League 2 and no doubt October will be the same with plenty of action to come as the season really begins to take shape and October could define where teams’ seasons are heading. There are some tasty games to come in October including Notts County vs Crawley, Exeter vs Stevenage, The Devon-Dorset Derby between as Yeovil face Exeter, A tasty Lancashire derby as Morecambe face Tranmere, Forest Green vs Newport, Tranmere vs Macclesfield, A three counties derby between MK Dons and Northampton, The Gloucestershire derby brilliantly named El Glossico as Forest Green battle Cheltenham and Colchester vs Lincoln. September was brilliant and unpredictable and no doubt October will be the same.  

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