Welcome to the first Last Word On Football EFL League Two preview of the season. Every week we’ll bring you a closer look at some of the key fixtures from each matchweek, as well as having a go at predicting the weekend’s results.
League Two Preview: Matchweek 1
Salford City v Stevenage
Salford City begin their first-ever season at this level at home to a Stevenage side who narrowly missed out on a play-off berth last season.
Just six seasons ago, the visitors were beginning their campaign in League One while Salford were in the Northern Premier League Premier Division. Such has been their dramatic rise under the Class of 92, though, the Ammies now find themselves as outside contenders for a play-off position.
Last season’s strikeforce that proved so potent in the National League has remained intact and already boasts some Football League pedigree in Danny Lloyd and Adam Rooney. They will be hoping that a home match to start the season will be the perfect platform for them to get the goals rolling once more, Lloyd especially after a disappointing return in 2018/19.
Stevenage, meanwhile, will have to contend without loanee Ilias Chair this season. The youngster, who spent the second half of last season on loan from Queens Park Rangers, was the architect of some stunning goals, including a late brace to rescue a point at Lincoln City and a 35-yard strike against MK Dons.
They do, though, possess some vital experience at the back in Scott Cuthbert, who will look to stop any Salford attacks at the earliest opportunity and will use his experience of the division to good effect against the newcomers.
Leyton Orient v Cheltenham Town
What a ride it’s been for Leyton Orient in the last few years. They dropped out of the Football League in 2017 after a troubled ownership period and only looked to be going one way. However, under Justin Edinburgh, they stormed back and won the National League title, ending their two-year exile from league football.
However, the sudden death of Edinburgh earlier this summer rocked the club to its core, and all the plans made under him for this season seemed to be scuppered. Ross Embleton, Edinburgh’s assistant, though, stepped in to take the reins and he will lead the O’s out for their first Football League appearance since 2017.
It’s perhaps unfair to suggest that this game is all about Orient and little to do with Cheltenham because, at the end of the day, there’s still a football match between two teams to be won. However, Robins fans have organised collections for the Justin Edinburgh 3 Foundation and raised money for a giant flag in his honour to be displayed before kick-off, showing that they appreciate what an emotional day it will be for the East Londoners.
Emotion can take a team a long way in a game, but it isn’t always the deciding factor. While the O’s have been unbeaten this pre-season, they have looked shaky at moments and could be found out against opposition similar to their level. Cheltenham, meanwhile, look set for another season of mid-table solidarity as they continue to consolidate their position in League Two. This could be a tight one.
Salford City v Stevenage
It’s going to be a huge day for Salford City in their first Football League game, also being shown on Sky Sports. That excitement should carry them over the line, but the loss won’t be a damaging one for Stevenage in terms of their whole season.
Salford City 2-1 Stevenage
Bradford City v Cambridge United
Bradford City are an enormous fish in the League Two pond, while many are tipping Cambridge United for relegation. Expect this to be a comfortable one for Bradford, although they won’t have it this easy every week.
Bradford City 3-0 Cambridge United
Carlisle United v Crawley Town
Crawley have struggled to get a grip in League Two since their relegation a few seasons ago, and that doesn’t look to be changing any time soon given their transfer business. Carlisle United may struggle to replicate last season’s form that saw them as play-off contenders, but home advantage should be enough here.
Carlisle United 2-0 Crawley Town
Colchester United v Port Vale
It’s been a summer of transition for Port Vale with the change in ownership, and that settling in period could also translate to the pitch with ten new signings. Colchester United, meanwhile, are one of the promotion favourites and should get off to an easy enough start here.
Colchester United 3-1 Port Vale
Crewe Alexandra v Plymouth Argyle
Plymouth Argyle are widely tipped to win the league this season under former Bury manager Ryan Lowe. Crewe Alexandra certainly aren’t an easy team to start against though and they could face a tough task here.
Crewe Alexandra 1-1 Plymouth Argyle
Exeter City v Macclesfield Town
Every table prediction going seems to have Macclesfield Town at the bottom. They pulled off a miracle last year, but doing that again borders on the impossible, and Exeter City is hardly the place to start when facing tough asks.
Exeter City 3-1 Macclesfield Town
Forest Green Rovers v Oldham Athletic
If Forest Green Rovers are to complete their aim of reaching the Championship, they’ll have to get out of League Two soon. They’re looking good for that as well, and Oldham Athletic should provide them with no real problems.
Forest Green Rovers 2-0 Oldham Athletic
Leyton Orient v Cheltenham Town
As mentioned above, emotion can play a part in games but it won’t be the deciding factor. Both teams look set for a low mid-table finish and, as such, will probably be equally-matched on the pitch.
Leyton Orient 1-1 Cheltenham Town
Morecambe v Grimsby Town
Both teams will probably see survival as a relative achievement this year – and that’s despite Morecambe beginning their 12th straight campaign at this level. Two teams that won’t set the league alight probably won’t do so in this game either.
Morecambe 0-0 Grimsby Town
Newport County v Mansfield Town
It’s not been long since these two met in the play-offs last season, where Newport County amazingly came out on top. While Newport aren’t likely to make those strides again, they’re tough to beat at home and Mansfield may find this a tough place to start.
Newport County 1-1 Mansfield Town
Northampton Town v Walsall
Neither of these sides are being tipped to have particularly bright seasons. Northampton, though, can be tricky to get past at Sixfields, and they should have just enough in them to edge a win here.
Northampton Town 1-0 Walsall
Scunthorpe United v Swindon Town
Scunthorpe are another side many predict to bounce straight back to League One, but Swindon have had an excellent summer themselves and could be dark horses this season. Expect an entertaining game here.
Scunthorpe United 2-2 Swindon Town