League Two 2012-13 season: Club-by-club preview

Compiled by Emlyn BegleyBBC Sport
Swindon Town celebrate the League Two title

Fleetwood Town will begin their first season in the Football League among the favourites for promotion.

Last season's Blue Square Bet Premier champions, who play their first match in League Two at home to Torquay on Saturday, will be hoping to make an instant impact.

Oxford, who finished ninth last season, Rotherham (10th), Southend (beaten in the play-off semi-finals) and relegated Chesterfield are also expected to be competing for the top spots.

Who will suffer the drop from the Football League? Last season Barnet, Plymouth and Northampton all narrowly stayed up - but how will they fare this time?

You can also check out BBC guides to the Premier League,Championship and League One.

AFC Wimbledon

Manager: Terry BrownLast season: 16th
Best summer signing: Louis HarrisOne to watch: Brendan Kiernan
AFC Wimbledon

BBC London 94.9's Laurence Lowne: "After a brilliant start to last season, which saw AFC Wimbledon reach the heady heights of third place, there were many that thought back-to-back promotions were on the cards.

"It was a false dawn as the side lost its confidence with injuries piling up, and a fall down the table was only steadied in the second half of the season with four loan signings from higher-placed clubs.

"Manager Terry Brown has now shipped out 12 of last season's squad, brought in new players and promoted a number of the exciting reserve team.

"A mixture of youthful enthusiasm and players with lengthy Football League experience should see the side comfortable in mid table."

Accrington Stanley

Manager: Paul CookLast season: 14th
Best summer signing: George MillerOne to watch: Michael Liddle
Accrington Stanley

BBC Radio Lancashire's Dan Jewell: "After more than a decade with the same management team, change was always going to be an upheaval for Accrington and a stuttering end to last season seemed to prove the point.

"Things are very different now though, with Paul Cook remoulding the club to his own design. The blueprint is very simple; hungry youngsters playing attacking football and aiming for the very top. The average age of the current Stanley squad is just over 21.

"The bookies might be tipping the Reds to go down but if it all comes together, they could be one of the season's surprise packages."

Aldershot Town

Manager: Dean HoldsworthLast season: 11th
Best summer signing: Craig ReidOne to watch: Adam Mekki
Aldershot Town

BBC Surrey's Gavin Denison: "After an excellent second half to last season, expectations are high that Aldershot Town can challenge for a top-seven finish.

"Holdsworth, Reid and team captain Ben Herd all turned down League One offers in the summer with the aim of bringing third-tier football to north-east Hampshire.

"Experienced campaigners Craig Stanley, Guy Branston and Anthony Tonkin add nous to a young squad, while the signings of centre-backs Ollie Lancashire and Troy Brown compensate for the loss of club captain Darren Jones.

"The reintroduction of seven substitutes should provide further development opportunities for the club's excellent crop of academy graduates."


Manager: Mark RobsonLast season: 22nd
Best summer signing: Ricky Holmes One to watch: Anthony Edgar

BBC Sport's Joel Hammer: "Rarely can the desire to achieve mid-table obscurity be higher than amongst Barnet fans. For each of the last three seasons they've only survived on the very last day. If the Bees' League status can be assured sooner it will be a significant improvement.

"The club has once again had a high summer turnover of personnel. The manager, club captain and top scorer all departed.

"In Mark Robson the Barnet board have given a well-established coach the chance to be the main man. The season, however, is certain to end in sadness as this will be their last on the famous slope of Underhill before a move out of the borough."

Bradford City

Manager: Phil ParkinsonLast season: 18th
Best summer signing: Gary JonesOne to watch: Ross Hannah
Bradford City

BBC Radio Leeds' Dave Fletcher: "After three seasons at the wrong end of the table, it looks like time for Bradford to mount a promotion challenge.

"It is something manager Phil Parkinson has already acknowledged and he will be better placed to guide them to that target having joined early in the 2011-12 campaign following the sacking of Peter Jackson.

"The signings of Garry Thompson from Scunthorpe, Rory McArdle from Aberdeen and Gary Jones from Rochdale, as well as making Andrew Davies' switch from Stoke City permanent, shows that the club means business and if they can get off to a decent start expect them to be in the race for League One."

Bristol Rovers

Manager: Mark McGheeLast season: 13th
Best summer signing: David ClarksonOne to watch: Ollie Norburn
Bristol Rovers

BBC Radio Bristol's Richard Hoskin: "It's not unusual for Bristol Rovers fans to be optimistic going into a new campaign, only to be let down badly. But Mark McGhee has made a good impression since joining the club in January, and once again hopes are high going into the new campaign.

"Rovers ended last season in superb goalscoring form at home, but they struggled to make an impact away from the Memorial Stadium and the team will need to improve away results if they're to challenge for promotion.

"The loss of Mustapha Carayol was a blow but not a surprise, and at the time of writing Mark McGhee still has work to do in the transfer market.

"Pre-season injuries are a concern and they will miss Danny Woodards in particular, but anything less than a play-off push will be a disappointment."

Burton Albion

Manager: Gary RowettLast season: 17th
Best summer signing: Robbie WeirOne to watch: Jacques Maghoma
Burton Albion

BBC Radio Derby's Charles Collins: "Gary Rowett has recruited particularly well after a mini clear-out at the end of last season. With Zander Diamond and Marcus Holness joining Nathan Stanton, he has three excellent central defenders to choose from and competition at left-back with Damien McCrory trying to force veteran Aaron Webster up the pitch.

"In Calvin Zola, Justin Richards, Billy Kee and Adi Yussuf, they probably have the best strike force in the division.

"The Brewers look good enough for a top-half finish this season and could surprise if injuries don't hit them as hard as they did last year. Those writing them off as relegation material are seriously underestimating them."

Cheltenham Town

Manager: Mark YatesLast season: 6th
Best summer signing: Shaun HarradOne to watch: Jermaine McGlashan
Cheltenham Town

BBC Radio Gloucestershire's Paul Furley: "A good start will be important to Cheltenham's season. Avoiding a hangover from their play-off final defeat by Crewe could go a long way to ensuring another exciting campaign.

"Their task is more difficult because last season carried on until the end of May meaning that, after the players were allowed a decent break, the Robins have had a shorter pre-season than most other clubs.

"New signing Sam Deering is the man most likely to fill the void left by Luke Summerfield's departure. If he can slot in to the midfield unit alongside Marlon Pack and Russ Penn, Cheltenham - with the aid of another good run on the injury front - could challenge again."


Manager: John SheridanLast season: 22nd (League One)
Best summer signing: Marc Richards One to watch: Jordan Bowery

BBC Radio Sheffield's Andrew Giddings: "Chesterfield are certainly contenders for automatic promotion after the disappointment of relegation from League One last season.

"As well as the signing of Richards from Port Vale, boss John Sheridan has recruited well with Sam Hird coming in from Doncaster. However, outside of the starting XI the Spireites are not blessed with a wealth of options and could suffer if they pick up injuries in some areas.

"Sheridan has great knowledge at this level and his side impressed everyone on their way to promotion in 2010-11. I expect more of the same."

Dagenham & Redbridge

Manager: John StillLast season: 19th
Best summer signing: Gavin HoyteOne to watch: Dwight Gayle
Dagenham & Redbridge

BBC London 94.9's Stuart Smith: "Only a final flurry of positive results helped Daggers hang on to their League status last May.

"Several senior players have now departed and once more Daggers will rely on youth and hope to unearth another gem or two in order to survive another season.

"With perhaps the smallest budget in the league, John Still will utilise the loan market if necessary, but he will also hope that last season's unfortunate run of injuries to key players is not repeated.

"A top-10 finish would be a real achievement, but get set for another roller-coaster season for Dagenham & Redbridge."

Exeter City

Manager: Paul TisdaleLast season: 23rd (League One)
Best summer signing: Matt OakleyOne to watch: Elliot Frear
Exeter City

BBC Sport's Brent Pilnick: "Exeter manager Paul Tisdale has added a host of experienced players to his squad as he bids to challenge for promotion straight back to League One.

"He has picked up Tommy Doherty, Kevin Amankwaah and Craig Woodman as well as persuading Alan Gow, Matt Oakley and Jamie Cureton to rejoin the club after featuring last season.

"Fitness will be key for Exeter - injuries ravaged the squad last season and ended their chances of survival, but if his squad can stay fully fit there is no reason they cannot be challenging at the top end of League Two."

Fleetwood Town

Manager: Micky MellonLast season: 1st (Blue Square Bet Premier)
Best summer signing: Youl MaweneOne to watch: David Ball
Fleetwood Town

BBC Radio Lancashire's Gary Hunt: "Fleetwood, the Football League's newest club, have lost leading scorer Jamie Vardy to Leicester for a fee of around £1m, but manager Micky Mellon has made a number of new signings to boost his squad.

"A mixture of quality experienced players such as Jon Parkin, Youl Mawene and Damien Johnson, along with talented youngsters such as David Ball, should give Mellon plenty of options.

"The ambition and ethos of the club as a whole, from the chairman down, means that consolidation will not be an option. No-one should be at all surprised to see the club challenging at the top end of the table in League Two, despite it being their debut season in the Football League."


Manager: Martin AllenLast season: 8th
Best summer signing: Deon BurtonOne to watch: Adam Birchall

BBC Radio Kent's Matt Davison: "It is clear after Andy Hessenthaler's move upstairs that the play-offs seem to be the minimum requirement for chairman Paul Scally.

"Martin Allen has a good record in League Two. There has been a high rotation of players and pre-season has been impressive with the only defeat being by Watford.

"The defence is what cost the Gills points last season and that has to improve, but at the other end of the pitch supporters will be excited to see Adam Birchall who, a year after signing from Dover where he was prolific, is still waiting to make his debut after a serious knee injury.

"Look out for Bradley Dack, who is ready to be unleashed on League Two after scoring 26 goals from midfield for the youth team last season."


Manager: Jim BentleyLast season: 15th
Best summer signing: Richard BrodieOne to watch: Jack Redshaw

BBC Radio Lancashire's Derek Quinn: "Manager Jim Bentley has openly admitted that limited finances have had a big part to play in his preparations for the new season.

"New loan signing Richard Brodie could be vital as the Shrimps lacked goals last season. They relied far too heavily on Kevin Ellison.

"Last season, the Shrimps started superbly and topped the league for a short time at the start of the campaign. But injuries took their toll and they ended in mid-table.

"The financial restrictions mean a similar finish would be an achievement this season."

Northampton Town

Manager: Aidy BoothroydLast season: 20th
Best summer signing: Clive PlattOne to watch: Ishmel Demontagnac
Northampton Town

BBC Radio Northampton's Geoff Doyle: "After two very disappointing seasons Northampton fans will be hoping for much better this time around.

"Aidy Boothroyd is still considered a high-profile manager after his exploits with Watford in the Championship and Premier League. He is trying to rebuild his reputation and cannot afford to fail.

"He has impressed at Sixfields since taking over towards the end of last season, his budget seems bigger, player recruitment seems promising and so expectations are pretty high.

"He has taken the gamble of assembling a smaller squad made up of better quality players which seems a bright move as long as injuries and suspensions don't hit. Top 10 should be easily achievable."

Oxford United

Manager: Chris WilderLast season: 9th
Best summer signing: Jake Forster-CaskeyOne to watch: Adam Chapman
Oxford United

BBC Sport's Emlyn Begley: "Oxford fell away so drastically in the last weeks of 2011-12 that manager Chris Wilder needs a good start to keep the club's fans on his side.

"United suffered so many injuries last year that they have invested £150,000 in their fitness and sports science department and Wilder will hope this can help sustain a promotion challenge - however, they do start this season with another mini-injury crisis.

"He has kept the spine of the team together, as well as adding a few new faces, but in their third season back in the Football League, nothing less than a play-off place will do."

Plymouth Argyle

Manager: Carl FletcherLast season: 21st
Best summer signing: Rene GilmartinOne to watch: Matt Lecointe
Plymouth Argyle

BBC Radio Devon's Alan Richardson: "Carl Fletcher, in his first full season in charge, stays loyal to the squad which battled so hard to beat the drop last season.

"The Pilgrims looked very solid at the back but with just nine league goals from strikers Nick Chadwick, Warren Feeney and Matt Lecointe last season, a lack of firepower could be the big worry up front.

"To that end Fletcher has brought in Paris Cowan-Hall and Rhys Griffiths, who were both prolific outside the Football League, but if they fail to fire then the pressure could be on local lad Lecointe, an England Under-18 international, to step up to the plate."

Port Vale

Manager: Micky AdamsLast season: 12th
Best summer signing: Jennison Myrie-Williams One to watch: Ryan Burge
Port Vale

BBC Radio Stoke's Lee Blakeman: "On the pitch this pre-season has been as good as Port Vale have had for many a season - just the one defeat which came against Coventry in a behind-closed-doors match, and they've only conceded two goals in all games.

"There is no question that the current squad have what it takes to be serious contenders for the play-off places, but as ever at Port Vale a lot of what happens on the pitch is down to the amount of stability that can be provided off it.

"The club continues to look for a new owner following the delay over Keith Ryder's proposed takeover, and they begin the new season still in administration."


Manager: John ColemanLast season: 24th (League One)
Best summer signing: George DonnellyOne to watch: Rhys Bennett

BBC Radio Manchester's Nathan Middleton: "It has been a summer of change at Spotland as John Coleman prepares for his first full season in charge of Rochdale.

"Coleman has made good on his promise of wholesale changes after their relegation from League One, including selling inspirational captain Gary Jones, and he has mainly stuck to what he knows and trusts, signing a string of players who he worked with during his time at Accrington Stanley.

"With a bigger budget than his former club, and an intriguing blend of youth and experience in the squad assembled, expect Rochdale to be in and around the top seven all season."


Manager: Steve EvansLast season: 10th
Best summer signing: Kari ArnasonOne to watch: Ben Pringle
Rotherham United

BBC Radio Sheffield's Rob Staton: "There's a buzz around Rotherham after moving into the New York Stadium and manager Steve Evans is determined to build on that momentum.

"Eleven summer signings, including Iceland international Arnason from Scottish Premier League side Aberdeen, have revolutionised the squad and it's no surprise the Millers are one of the favourites for promotion.

"In recent years Rotherham have started well but faded, but the depth and quality in the squad is better this time. Evans himself is one of the more misunderstood characters in the game - and his CV is loaded with promotions. The Millers are genuine title contenders."

Southend United

Manager: Paul SturrockLast season: 4th
Best summer signing: Ryan CresswellOne to watch: Anthony Straker
Southend United

BBC Radio Essex's Glenn Speller: "Southend's play-off semi-final defeat by Crewe was a body blow to a club who made no secret of their determination to get out of League Two.

"Manager Paul Sturrock juggled his team and was never afraid to bring in fresh faces. But there was always the underlying rumours of off-field matters disrupting their season.

"Bilel Mohsni clashed with team-mates, officials and opponents. Although on his day he was their best player, his impending departure might be a blessing in disguise.

"Sturrock will need a good start to the season to keep the supporters onside."

Torquay United

Manager: Martin LingLast season: 5th
Best summer signing: Billy BodinOne to watch: Tom Cruise
Torquay United

BBC Radio Devon's Dave Saunders: "After falling just short in the play-offs last season, Martin Ling will be looking to continue the push for automatic promotion in only his second season in charge.

"He has lost three key players in Eunan O'Kane, Robert Olejnik and Mark Ellis but his shrewdness in the transfer market has enabled the Gulls to land Australian Aaron Downes and much sought-after Billy Bodin from Swindon.

"With a brand new stand at Plainmoor the Torquay fans will no doubt be looking forward to visits from near neighbours Exeter City and Plymouth Argyle as they seek promotion to football's third tier for the first time since 2004."

Wycombe Wanderers

Manager: Gary WaddockLast season: 21st (League One)
Best summer signing: Gary DohertyOne to watch: Anthony Stewart
Wycombe Wanderers

BBC Sport's Paul Grunill: "Despite relegation from League One last season, the Chairboys go into the new campaign in positive mood and in a position of financial stability following a takeover by the supporters' trust.

"Boss Gary Waddock has strengthened the spine of his team by bringing in defender Gary Doherty, the new skipper, and midfielder Matt Spring, both players of vast experience.

"But their ability to mount a promotion challenge may depend on whether they can hang onto striker Stuart Beavon.

"Beavon scored 25 goals last season and has been linked with clubs in higher divisions, but Waddock does at least have cover after also signing Richard Logan and Dennis Oli."

York City

Manager: Gary MillsLast season: 4th and play-off winners (Blue Square Bet Premier)
Best summer signing: Michael CoulsonOne to watch: Patrick McLaughlin
York City

BBC Radio York's Barry Parker: "Clubs just up from the Conference tend to do well and I expect York City to follow that pattern.

"The momentum of their FA Trophy and play-off successes will count for much. Manager Gary Mills is an outstanding talent who, I think, will end up managing at the highest level (like his mentor, Brian Clough) and the passing game he has installed in his team will suit the Football League better than non-league.

"There will be goals, perhaps at both ends. The defenders have the talent, but can they be consistent over a season at this level? If they can, a second promotion is a serious possibility."

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