Skip to main content Skip to site footer
Club News

2021/22 League Two Preview

3 August 2021

With the new season getting underway on Saturday, we take a look at the other 23 teams in League Two that the Valiants will be taking on during the campaign.

 Barrow A.F.C 

The 2020/21 campaign marked Barrow’s first season in the EFL for 48 years and it turned out to be a successful one for The Bluebirds as they retained their League Two status after finishing in 21st, five points clear of the relegation zone. 

Going into the new season, the club has appointed a new manager in the form of former Forest Green boss Mark Cooper who signed a 3 year deal with the club in May and despite releasing 14 players in the summer including the likes of former Vale players Scott Quigley and Calvin Andrews, the experienced EFL manager has been busy in the recruitment area during the transfer window. 

The club has brought in seven players so far with the most notable being former Walsall forward Josh Gordon along with a couple of ex Championship youngsters such as Joe Grayson and Tom White who came in from Blackburn and full-back Ramao Hutton who was recruited from Birmingham, but does have League Two experience on his CV after spending last season on loan Stevenage. 

 

Bradford City A.F.C 

After a difficult start to the season which saw Stuart McCall get sacked in mid-December after he only managed to win three of the opening 16 games of the campaign leaving the club in 22nd place, under the joint management of Mark Trueman and Connor Sellars the Bantams managed to achieve a mid-table finish.  

Similarly to Barrow, a new manager came into the reigns in the summer with former Morecambe boss Derek Adams being appointed. 

The Scotsman earned promotion to League One with the Shrimps last season and he will be hoping for a similar outcome this season with Bradford. 

In the hope to do this Adams has brought in eight new additions with a number of players from League Two clubs coming into the side such as Lee Angol from Leyton Orient and both Abo Eisa and Alex Gilliead from Scunthorpe United. 

Bradford’s new boss did further bring in one player from his former Morecambe side in the shape of defensive midfielder Yann Songo’o who was a regular starter especially in the latter stages of the Shrimps successful 2020/21 campaign.  

 

Bristol Rovers 

After five seasons in League One, Bristol Rovers made the drop down to League Two after finishing bottom of the pile last season. 

It was a torrid campaign for the Pirates as throughout the season they ended up having three permanent managers after both Ben Garner and Paul Tisdale were relieved of their duties and despite former Fleetwood boss Joey Baton failing to retain their status in League One, he has been kept in the role ahead of the new season.  

During the transfer window, the former Premier League player has had a reshuffle of his squad after letting go of 17 players, but so far the club has brought in a further 14. 

Among these are former Lincoln City regular Harry Anderson and experienced EFL forward Brett Pitman along with Aaron Collins who netted ten times for Forest Green Rovers in League Two last season. 

 

They have also recruited in a couple of loan players which include Stoke City centre back Connor Taylor and Barnsley winger Luke Thomas who at only 22 years of age has featured 60 times in the Championship. 

 

Carlisle United 

Under the management of Chris Beech, Carlisle had a decent season last time round as they finished in tenth position only six points adrift of the play-off places and going into the new season they will be looking to build on this to try to break into the top seven places. 

Like Bristol Rovers, the Blues have had a reshuffle in their squad as they have let go of 12 players but so far have only added five so more activity for the remainder of the transfer window should be expected. 

Up to now, Beech has recruited Wigan Athletic’s Zach Clough and Corey Whelan along with former Everton and QPR youngster Manesse Mampala. 

Tristan Abrahams who was a regular feature in the Newport County team last season that reached the play-off final has further been brought in along with Burnley goalkeeper Lukas Jensen who has arrived on a loan move to replace the departed Paul Farman. 

 

Colchester United 

After having pushed for a play-off spot for the last couple of seasons against all odds Colchester ended up being involved in a fight for survival but did manage to retain their status in the fourth tier of English football after finishing six points clear of the drop. 

They will be hoping to get back on track this season and ensure that they don’t get dragged into that situation again under the helms of Hayden Mullins who was appointed as the U’s boss at the end of March. 

Like a lot of the clubs in this division, Colchester have had a clear-out this summer with 11 players leaving the club with the most notable being 19 years old Kwame Poku’s departure to Championship outfit Peterborough United after impressing throughout his 75 games for the U’s. 

In terms of arrivals, Mullins has so far brought in six players with former Valiant Luke Hannant being recruited from the recently promoted Cambridge United and Freddie Sears returning to the club for the first time in six years from Ipswich Town.  

 

Crawley Town 

Last campaign Crawley finished comfortably in mid-table and will be looking this time around to improve upon this to mount a challenge for a spot in the play-offs. 

In truth, there has not been too much transfer activity for the Red Devils as of yet with former Peterborough midfielder Jack Payne coming in from Eastleigh along with Milwall youngster Harry Ransom and Burton Albion’s Owen Gallacher. 

The Reds have further recruited another goalkeeper on loan in the form of 20-year-old Blondy Nna Noukeu from Stoke City while also letting seven members of their squad, the most noteworthy of which being Josh Doherty who has departed the club to join National League side Barnet. 

 

Exeter City 

In the last couple of seasons Exeter have been on the edge of promotion but have not quite been able to achieve it after having suffered a couple of play-off final defeats at Wembley. 

Last season Matt Taylor’s narrowly missed out on a spot in the top seven as they ended being only three points adrift. 

This season they will be looking to ensure that they at least get back into the play-off spots but they will hope to go one further by breaking into the automatic promotion places. 

Over the course of the transfer window, Taylor has had a switch around of his squad with 14 leaving the squad the most noteworthy of which being captain Jake Taylor who had nearly made 300 appearances for the club as he made the move to fellow League Two rivals Stevenage. 

Despite losing a large proportion of their squad the club have recruited a fair few in their place with Jevani Brown from Colchester United, Pierce Sweeney from Swindon Town and Callum Rowe from Aston Villa all having come in just to name a few. 

Former Vale goalkeeper Scott Brown Is also among those to join the Grecians as part of the coaching staff as they look to make the return to the third tier for the first time since 2012. 

 

Forest Green Rovers 

In the 2020/21 campaign, Forest Green finished in the play-off places for the second time in three years but once again fell at the semi-final stage after a 5-4 aggregate loss to play-off Finalists Newport County. 

Going into the new season Rovers have hired a new manager in the form of ex Wolverhampton Wanderers Under 23’s coach Rob Edwards after Mark Cooper was relieved of his duties with eight games of last season remaining after nearly five years in charge of the club. 

In the latest transfer window up to now, the club has not been involved in much activity with Edwards only having brought in four new players in the shape of Regan Hendry from Raith Rovers, Saidu Diallo from Wolves, Opi Edwards from Bristol City and young forward Jack Aitchison on loan from Bristol City. 

Then in terms of departures Rovers have let go of five players the most notable of which being Chris Stokes who has joined Scottish side Kilmarnock and Aaron Collins who left to join the recently relegated Bristol Rovers. 

 

Harrogate Town 

Harrogate endured a successful first season in the EFL after earning promotion from the National League after they comfortably achieved survival with a 17th placed finish. 

Ahead of the new campaign, the Sulphurites have recruited  6 new members of the squad with among those being midfielder Nathan Sheron from Fleetwood Town and Alex Pattison who came in from Wycombe Wanderers. 

In return manager Simon Weaver has parted ways with ten of his players with the most notable of which being Brendan Kiernan going to Walsall and goalkeeper James Belshaw leaving the club to go to Bristol Rovers as Harrogate look to retain their League Two status for a second consecutive season. 

 

Hartlepool United 

After spending four years out of the Football League, a dramatic penalty shoot-out win in the play-off final against Torquay United ensured that Hartlepool will make their return to the EFL at the start of this campaign. 

The Pools finished their National League campaign in fourth position but after wins in the play-offs over Bromley, Stockport County and then eventually against second-placed Torquay at Ashton Gate, it meant that after a difficult couple of seasons that Hartlepool could make their return to where they want to be. 

Over the transfer window, they have been involved in a fair few deals in arrivals and departures with six new players being added to the fold including former Vale forward Mark Cullen. 

Manager Dave Challinor has also added a couple of players with Football League experience with the likes of Olufela Olomola from Scunthorpe United and experienced centre back Jake Lawlor from Harrogate Town being brought into the squad. 

Despite recruiting a few key members into the current squad, Challinor has parted ways with eight of his players that were involved in their promotion last season. 

Among these are Ryan Johnson who made the switch to Vale Park in the summer and former Vale forward Danny Elliot who has made the move to Boston United. 

 

Leyton Orient 

The O’s experienced their best season in League Two since their promotion back in 2019 after they finished in 11th place on a respectable 61 points. 

During the 2020/21 campaign, Ross Embleton departed from the management role with Jobi McAnuff taking over as interim manager from the end of February to the end of the season. 

However, going into the new campaign they have a new man under the helms in the form of former Wolverhampton Wanderers and Swansea City manager Kenny Jackett as the club look to make that climb back into League One. 

During the transfer window, Jackett has had a big reshuffle of his squad with eight new additions being made including experienced midfielder Darren Pratley from Charlton Athletic and striker Paul Smyth from Queens Park Rangers who last season had spells out on loan at League One clubs Charlton Athletic and Accrington Stanley. 

Even though fresh faces have joined the squad, 13 players at Leyton Orient have been released with the likes of Connor Wilkinson, James Brophy and Lee Angol being amongst these as they moved on to Walsall, Cambridge United and Bradford City retrospectively. 

 

Mansfield Town 

Mansfield made a difficult start to the campaign last time around but after Nigel Clough was appointed in November he seemed to turn things around as the Stags ended up achieving a 16th placed finish. 

However, Clough will be looking to improve upon his first season at the club and be pushing to be contenders for a play-off place and over the summer he has recruited ten new faces. 

Among these are Stephen Quinn on a permanent deal after he spent time on loan with the club last season, Oliver Hawkins from Ipswich Town and 20-year-old Ryan Burke from Birmingham City. 

Up to now Clough has further sealed a couple of loan deals with Nathan Bishop from Manchester United, George Shelvey from Nottingham Forest and Ryan Stirk from Birmingham City all having joined the club until the end of the season. 

Despite being busy in terms of the arrivals coming into the club, Mansfield have said goodbye to eight of their players from last season some of which include Mal Bennings and Aidan Stone who both have made the switch to Darrell Clarke’s side. 

Defender Ryan Sweeney has also departed the club to join Dundee FC along with Andy Cook who has made the permanent switch to Bradford after spending time out there on loan. 

 

Newport County 

It has been a disappointing end to two of the three last seasons for Newport County as in the 2018/19 campaign and last season they reached the play-off final but fell at the last hurdle on both occasions by losing on the day. 

This time around they will look to be up in around the play-offs again and will be targeting to find a way to break into those automatic promotion positions. 

In the window manager Michael Flynn has recruited in 11 new players with the likes of Ed Upson from Bristol Rovers, Jermaine Hylton from Ross County and Christopher Missilou from Swindon Town joining the Welsh-based club. 

In return, 13 players have left the Ironsides the most noticeable names among them being Josh Sheehan who has joined the recently promoted League One outfit Bolton Wanderers and Liam Shepherd who has opted to go to fellow League Two club Salford City. 

 

Northampton Town 

After only one season back in League One, Northampton just didn’t quite have enough to earn survival as they made the drop straight back down to the fourth tier after finishing in 22nd place.  

With 20 games remaining Northampton decided to cut ties with manager Keith Curle who led them to promotion the season prior and Jon Brady was appointed as caretaker manager. 

Despite not being able to keep the Cobblers up, Brady was still appointed as permanent manager of the club at the start of May and he will be looking to make the jump straight back up to the third tier. 

In terms of transfer movement, the club has made 12 new additions, a number of which have come from Scottish Championship side Kilmarnock such as Mitch Pinnock, Nickie Kabamba and Aaron Mcgowan. 

Brady has also brought in midfielder Dylan Connoly from St Mirren and centre back Jon Guthrie from Livingston amongst a host of other names. 

Even though the Cobblers have brought in a lot of fresh faces they have released 2quite a few from their squad of last season as 12 have left the club with amongst these being former Vale players Mark Marshall and Alex Jones. 

 

Oldham Athletic 

Since their relegation into League Two in 2017/18, Oldham have struggled to make their way up the League Two table as they have either been involved in a relegation fight or have had to settle for a mid-table finish. 

However, under the tutelage of Keith Curle who signed a two-year contract at the end of the season, after his success with Northampton during the 2019/20 promotion campaign, Oldham will hope that their fortunes will be turning around. 

Over the transfer window, the Latics made 6 new signings with the most noteworthy being the arrival of former Vale loanee Sam Hart and forward Hallam Hope from Swindon Town. 

Then in terms of departures from the side based in Greater Manchester, ten players throughout the summer decided to leave the club with former Manchester United defender Cameron Borthwick Jackson to Burton Albion and Gary Woods to Aberdeen being the moves of the most interest.  

 

Rochdale A.F.C 

After seven years in League One, Rochdale A.F.C fell to relegation last season after finishing in 21st place, only a point away from safety. 

Going into the new season, the Dale have a new boss under their ranks in the form of Robbie Stockdale in what is his first permanent management job even though he previously has had three stints as a caretaker boss. 

In Stockdale’s first transfer window, he has not made much activity in terms of bringing many players to the club as he has only added young centre backs Max Taylor from Manchester United and Sam Graham from Sheffield United. 

Even though they have made not many additions to the squad, the club has let go of nine players including Conor Shaughnessy who has joined Burton Albion, 18-year-old Kwaddo Baah who has gone to the Premier League to join recently promoted Watford and veteran Paul McShane who has made his return to Manchester United after 15 years. 

 

Salford City 

Salford narrowly missed out on the play-off spots last season as they fell just two points short as they ended up finishing in 8th place and this campaign they will be hoping to ensure that they solidify a place in that top seven. 

Manager Gary Bowyer has been at the club since March and in the 10 games that he has so far managed at the club, he has won five. 

Over the window like many of the clubs in League Two, the Ammies have been very active on the transfer front with six players up to now having made their way into the club. 

Among these are Josh Morris from Fleetwood who made 24 appearances for the club last season in League One, Conor McAleny from Oldham and experienced midfield Matty Lund from Rochdale. 

 

Scunthorpe United 

Scunthorpe narrowly avoided the drop last season by only three points and will be looking to not get dragged into the same situation for a third season running after being involved in a relegation scrap during the 2019/20 season as well. 

During the transfer window boss, Neil Cox has been busy with business to help make sure that this won’t be the case as eight new players have come through the door such as defensive midfielder Alex Perry from Wigan Athletic, full-back Ross Millen from Kilmarnock and former Crewe Alexandra man Harry Davis from Morecambe. 

The Irons have also recruited a couple of youngsters that have been bred through the academies of Championship sides such as Lewis Thompson from Blackburn and Tyrone O’Neill from Middlesbrough. 

Despite bringing in a fair few fresh faces into the club, it is fair to say that Cox has had quite a clear-out as well with 19 players making their way through the exit door. 

Among this list is young centre back Jacob Bedeau who has made the move to Burnley, long-serving striker Kevin Van Veen who has gone to Scotland to join Motherwell and Lewis Spence who has chosen to go in a similar treachery as he has signed for Hamilton Academical. 

 

Stevenage 

After being involved in a relegation scrap for the majority of last season, manager Alex Revell did well to overcome it and get his side to a 14th placed finish which at one point seemed unlikely. 

Like Scunthorpe, Stevanage will want to make sure that they start to climb up the table after being involved in relegation battles over the last couple of seasons and the reshuffle in their pack over the summer will be how Revell hopes to do this. 

The 38-year-old has signed eight new players over the course of the transfer window with names such as James Daly from Bristol Rovers, goalkeeper Joseph Anang on loan from West Ham United and young midfielder Arthur Read from Brentford all coming into the club. 

Then in terms of departures, the Boro have released 14 players with among those being Tom Pett who moved to the Vale earlier in the window. 

A number of the players that have left the Hertfordshire based club have made the drop-down to the National League while midfielder Romain Vincelot has parted ways with the club after deciding to retire at 35 years of age. 

 

Sutton United 

Sutton surprised all of the odds last season by winning the National League and earning promotion to the Football league for the first time in their 106 year history. 

It was an incredible achievement for manager Matt Gray and his team and now they have earned the right to be in League Two they will surely do all they can this season to ensure that they stay there. 

In the summer transfer window up to now, the U’s have made six additions some of which include former Valiant forward Richie Bennet as well as Ricky Korboa from Northampton.  

Then with the players that have departed the newly-promoted side, former Vale player Rhys Browne is one of seven to have left as he has moved on to Wealdstone as well as Callum Kealy and Bradley Pearce who have joined Dorking and Welling United retrospectively. 

 

Swindon Town 

Swindon are another one of the teams to have made the drop back down to League Two after only one campaign back in the third tier of English football. 

The Robins finished the season in 23rd after only earning 43 points which ended up being five points away from safety but ahead of the 2021/22 campaign they have a new boss to take the team forward in the form of ex Bristol Rovers manager Ben Garner. 

In his first transfer window, Garner has so far made six additions to his squad with the most notable signings being Ben Gladwin from MK Dons, goalkeeper Joe Wollacott from Bristol City and Pierce Sweeney from Exeter City. 

Meanwhile, 18 members of last season’s team have parted ways with the club throughout the window with Brett Pitman, former Vale midfielder Anthony Grant and full-back Zeki Fryers being just a few of the names to leave the side based in Wiltshire. 

 

Tranmere Rovers 

In their first season back in League Two Tranmere managed to achieve a play-off finish but were knocked out in the semi-finals after a 3-2 aggregate loss to the eventual play-off winners Morecambe. 

Ahead of that play-off encounter Keith Hill was surprisingly let go by the club and for the new season, Micky Melon has been appointed for his second spell in charge of the club. 

In terms of transfer business during the window, Melon has made an impressive 13 signings with former Vale midfielder Sam Foley among those to have come in alongside the likes of former Wigan Athletic winger Callum McManaman and Ryan Watson from Northampton. 

Despite recruiting a lot of new members to the Merseyside based club, 11 have departed as well with Manny Monthe, Kaiyne Woolery and James Vaughn due to retirement being just a few of the players to have left the club. 

 

Walsall 

The Saddlers didn’t enjoy the best of seasons last time around as they finished in 19th place only six points clear of safety, but with former Premier League midfielder Matt Taylor being appointed as the club’s new manager, Walsall will hope to have a much-improved campaign this time around. 

In his first transfer window as a permanent manager, Taylor has brought in 13 new players with the likes of experienced full-back Stephen Ward, former Vale defender Zak Mills and Conor Wilkinson from Leyton orient all joining aboard the project they have going on at the Saddlers. 

On the other side of things, Walsall have lost a further 9 players such as the likes of Wes McDonald who has moved on to Morecambe, Dan Scarr who has joined Plymouth and forward Caolan Lavery who has made the transfer to League Two rivals Bradford City. 


Advertisement block