Several non-league clubs will be keeping an eye on developments in League Two this season as they are bidding to reach that level of the game. The fourth tier of English football should be fiercely competitive in 2019/20 after Plymouth, Walsall, Scunthorpe and Bradford City all dropped down in May. Bradford may have finished rock bottom of League 2 last term, but they are the favourites to bounce straight back up. Yet the bookies think several other teams are in with a chance and it should be a fascinating campaign.
The League Two odds at top sports betting sites like Bookmaker make interesting reading, as they make Bradford the clear favourites to win the title. They shipped 77 goals in League One last season and they will need to tighten up defensively if they are to yo-yo back up. James Vaughan has just been installed as captain and he will be a handful alongside Clayton Donaldson, but they may struggle in the early stages of the season and that could dent their title charge. Mansfield look like a good option in this market at 10/1. They looked all but certain to secure automatic promotion last season, only to lose their final three games and drop down to fourth, before losing on penalties to Newport County in the playoffs. They have kept the majority of the team, and they look well placed for another crack at promotion after signing the talented Nicky Maynard from Bury.
Four teams go up from League Two and the bookies reckon Mansfield, Bradford and Salford City have what it takes to secure promotion. Plymouth are fourth in the betting at 9/4 and that looks like an excellent bet. They had the best record of the four teams that were relegated from League One last season, and they were extremely unfortunate to go down via goal difference alone. Rather than wallowing in misery, chairman Simon Hallett has been proactive this summer. He snapped up manager Ryan Lowe, his backroom staff and no fewer than five players from Bury, who finished second in League Two last season but then ran into financial troubles. Plymouth now look well placed for a crack at promotion, while Scunthorpe might make another interesting option. Bringing in Paul Hurst as manager is a coup for them and they will fancy their chances of bouncing back up to League One.
Maynard hit 21 goals for Bury last season and that left him
as the third top scorer in this
division. He should slot straight into the Plymouth side as their main striker
and he is likely to enjoy plenty of chances for Lowe’s men. Plymouth outscored
10 teams in League One last season and they should have plenty of joy against
League Two defences this time around. Bury were also the top scorers under Lowe
last season, so he is likely to foster an attacking culture at Plymouth,
meaning Maynard would be a key beneficiary.
This is perhaps the market that is most interesting to non-league fans, as they will welcome several of these clubs into their fold next season. Morecambe have lost key players this summer and there has been no investment in the squad, while Sol Campbell’s Macclesfield have run into financial difficulties, so those two are the joint favourites to go down. Crawley Town have been in freefall for a while now and they finished 19th last season. Pre-season results have been poor and the squad lacks depth, so they might face the drop. Oldham are another club in a mess and the 10/1 available on them to be playing non-league football next season might appeal.