After the annual Football League awards took place in Manchester last Sunday, it seems an appropriate time to take a retrospective look back at the current season and pick out those sides in League Two that have been a cut above the rest throughout all 46 games.
For a league that not many people bat an eyelid at most of the time, this League Two campaign has pretty much had it all; it’s had entertainment, had clubs survive from the brink of extinction, and had ex-Premier League players stamping their marks on the lower league.
Even with three games left there’s still a lot to play for, especially in the case of the battle for automatic promotion, where just two points separate second from fifth. A memorable League Two season looks set to have some last day drama to shout about – a fitting end perhaps.
Below are what I believe have been the sides that have, by their standards, had seasons to put them apart from the rest of the league.
The fairy-tale story of AFC Wimbledon began almost 15 years ago now, entailing five promotions in nine years of non-league football before reaching the heights of League Two again.
Unfortunately, in their four seasons in League Two the Dons haven’t quite been able to recapture this promotion form, narrowly avoiding relegation twice and finishing below mid-table on the other occasions.
This makes it all the more impressive then that they’re flying as high as they are this campaign. Led by perennial League Two front man Adebayo Akinfenwa, Wimbledon are four points clear in the last play-off place with a game in hand over the chasing Wycombe behind them. ‘The Beast’ himself has provided vital goals at key points this year – none more so than a last minute winner at promotion chasing Plymouth Argyle to distance themselves from the other play-off hopefuls.
It’s another striker that has been making all the headlines this season though, with Lyle Taylor topping the Wimbledon goal-scoring charts with 19 goals which, bar a horrific collapse in the last four games, have all but certainly given the Dons at least two extra games after the end of May.
Accrington Stanley have, by all accounts, exceeded any pre-season expectations by a long distance.
In their tenth year in League Two, the football league’s smallest club have launched themselves into the midst of an exciting and tense battle for automatic promotion to League One, and currently find themselves in pole position by virtue of being in second place with three to play.
With games against relegation certainties York City and lowly Stevenage to come, Accrington know that two wins will secure them a place in the highest league in the club’s relatively short re-formed history.
Stanley boss John Coleman has performed miracles to get his team playing good quality football, getting the most out of midfield duo Josh Windass and Matt Crooks (who were both recently announced in the top ten League Two players of the year) as well as striker Billy Kee.
More importantly, Coleman has had Accrington playing as a unit for the whole year, and has instilled a workmanlike mentality into a side that has pulled off the key results when needed. Big wins against promotion rivals Plymouth Argyle, Oxford United and Bristol Rovers have come since January and it’s this, combined with other promotion contenders dropping points, that have aided the club hugely in their push for League One.
If Stanley manage to see the job through and do go up to League One, it would be a very popular promotion amongst the footballing neutrals.