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2018/19 League One Preview – Part Two

The second part of my look at our League One rivals as we enter our third consecutive season under our current genius owner. I am sure he is reading this as he renews his subscription for Valley Pass.

Here was Part One of my 2018/19 League One preview, which went Accrington Stanley to Coventry City.

Doncaster Rovers navigated League One on their first season back by finishing mid table, but the man that led them, Darren Ferguson, then resigned. Ex-Peterborough manager Grant McCann was appointed and unlike a lot of new managers, the Irishman inherits a stable squad.

There were a lot of draws last season proving that Donny were hard to beat, and in fact only the top six ended the season with fewer defeats. McCann has been able to make a couple of new signings. Burnley youth product Tom Anderson, a defender, has had nine loan spells ending at Donny last season, and he signs on a permanent. Midfielder Ally Crawford, who made over 200 appearances for Hamilton Accies moved south. 19-year old striker Mallik Wilks joined from Leeds on loan.

Cedric Evina was one of six player released. Donny rely heavily on ex-Millwall striker John Marquis who has hit 41 goals over the last two seasons and 37-year old midfielder James Coppinger is still hugely influential.

Odds: Promotion 10/1; Relegation 5/1
Player to watch: John Marquis
Charlton connection:
CA hunch: Grant McCann has promised promotion within two seasons. I’m not sure. Donny look light in a lot of areas. Relegation battle.

Joey Barton is bound to bring a bit of publicity to League One this season. He was appointed as Fleetwood Town head coach in June after his gambling ban ended. Credit to him for starting at the ‘bottom’ and it has definitely caught the imagination of the Cod Army.

Barton has made some astute signings on a small budget set by likeable owner Andy Pilley. Former Wales centre-back Craig Morgan has joined on a free from Wigan and been named captain. Central midfielder Jason Holt and experienced left-back Tommy Spurr have arrived on season-long loans from Rangers and Preston respectively. And in a headline writers dream Barton also signed Ched Evans on loan from Sheffield United.

A number of players were released, most of whom were signed by Uwe Rosler, but defender Nathan Pond, who played almost 500 times, did make the move to Salford. Journeyman Toumani Diagouraga left for Swindon.

Ched Evans joins Paddy Madden, Bobby Grant and Conor McAleny in a potentially potent strike force. Lewis Coyle has returned on loan from Leeds and is an exciting prospect that should thrive under Barton’s tutelage.

Odds: Promotion 10/1; Relegation 13/2
Player to watch: Lewis Coyle
Charlton connection: Conor McAleny
CA hunch: It could all go pear-shaped of course but I reckon Barton will get his head down and produce a competitive side. Top half.

Gillingham, our fiercest local rivals.. are in their 6th year in League One. After a year previous when they only stayed up on the last day of the season, last season was better, but Steve Lovell’s team had a very poor end to the season.

The Gills have re-mixed their ex-Addicks ranks with Scott Wagstaff (Wimbledon), Lee Martin (Grimsby) and Franck Moussa (unattached) each moving on and replaced by Wimbledon’s Barry Fuller and Dean Parrett, whilst youngsters Regan Charles-Cook and Brandon Hanlan signed from us. Midfielder Callum Reilly, who was on loan from Bury last season, signed on a 2-year deal and Lowell, who knows the Kent non-league scene well, plucked free-scoring midfielder Josh Rees from Bromley.

As well as losing captain Lee Martin, Lowell has also lost Ben Nugent and Jake Hessenthaler, but can still rely in Tom Eaves, scorer of 17 league goals last season, who along with Gabriel Zakuani and Mark Byrne provide a strong spine.

Odds: Promotion 28/1; Relegation 15/8
Player to watch: Tom Eaves
Charlton connections: Regan Charles-Cook, Barry Fuller, Dean Parrett, Brandon Hanlan,
CA hunch: Much will depend on Eaves, but Gills look short on quality and another relegation battle could ensue.

Nathan Jones took over Luton Town in January 2016 keeping the Hatters away from relegation. A rebuild job saw them make the play-offs in 16/17 ultimately losing too Blackpool, but then last season Luton scored 94 goals on their way to promotion and back into the third tier for the first time in 11 years.

There were a few outgoing including ex-Addick Jordan Cook to Grimsby. The biggest loss will be that of midfield general Olly Lee, who decided to take a new challenge in Scotland with Hearts.

Incoming is Birmingham midfielder Andrew Shinnie, who was on loan at Kenilworth Road last season, and two defenders Matty Pearson, who spent just a season at Barnsley and the towering Sonny Bradley from Plymouth, once on our radar.

In defence Alan Sheehan shined last season, but it’s upfront where Jones will be hoping that his side can transition into the higher level. James Collins and Danny Hylton were both prolific last season scoring 40 goals between them. Rob Lee’s youngest son Elliot Lee added 10 from an attacking midfield position. Hylton is the least experienced and whether he can score goals a level up will help decide if Hatters can compete for promotion again.

Odds: Promotion 5/1; Relegation 20/1
Player to watch: Danny Hylton
Charlton connections: Nathan Jones, Alan McCormack
CA hunch: I’m a big fan of Nathan Jones and I think he will enhance his CV with a good promotion attacking season.

I guess we always now look at Oxford United and think Karl Robinson’s press conferences. Robinson took over at the Kassam Stadium in March and won just 3 games before the season came to a close.

Robinson oversaw a lot of player departures that included last season’s joint top scorer Wes Thomas as well as experienced defender Mike Williamson. The U’s will have to cope with the double blow of losing Ryan Ledson, their standout performer last season, and Joe Rothwell. Player of the year Ledson was sold to Preston and Rothwell moved to Blackburn. Both for undisclosed fees.

Robinson signed the experienced centre-half Tony McMahon from Bradford City and striker Jamie Mackie from QPR as well as the unknown Gavin Whyte from Irish club Crusaders. He’s a winger. Perennial loanee Luke Garbett joins for another loan, West Ham prospect Marcus Browne has been entrusted to Robinson, which to be fair, is not a bad decision, and long time love Samir Carruthers has also been reunited with the cheeky scouser.

James Henry playing as a 10 will be key for the U’s as will McMahon’s set pieces and how well ex-Liverpool product Cameron Branagan does in midfield.

Odds: Promotion 10/1; Relegation 10/1
Player to watch: James Henry
Charlton connections: Karl Robinson, Jon Obika
CA hunch: Robinson has got a useful squad there, certainly with more options than he had at The Valley. Will be interesting to see how U’s Thai owner takes to him, but if motor mouth can focus they could be up there.

Steve Evans has a handful, perhaps more, promotions on his CV and Peterborough United certainly have credentials to add to his list. Evans has a certain playing style and he has made his mark on the club with a huge turnover of players. 15 players in and 18 out to be exact.

One still at London Road is Marcus Maddison, despite the fact he has been on every rumour mill all summer. Jack Marriot has left for Derby, and leaves an obvious hole. Jack Baldwin moved to rivals Sunderland, Gwion Edwards to Ipswich, youngster Leonardo Da Silva Lopes moved to Wigan, full back Andrew Hughes is now at Preston and Aberdeen signed Chris Forrester, which has, 1, raised a lot of money, and 2 asked questions of why players of such quality were unable to get Posh out of this division.

Evans has brought in three players from his former clubs, with centre-backs Rhys Bennett and Josh Yorwerth joining from Mansfield and Crawley respectively, and left-back Tyler Denton coming in on a season-long loan from Leeds. A player Addicks have eyed Matt Gooden joined from Stevenage and Siriki Dembélé from Grimsby.

Three solid looking players from Scotland are Jason Naismith, a right back from Ross County, midfielder Mark O’Hara from Dundee and on loan from Nottingham Forest, Jason Cummings. Previous Blackpool midfielder Colin Daniel looks a useful addition and Aaron Chapman, a goalie signed from Accrington, looks the new first choice. Perhaps the biggest hopes sit on the shoulders of ex-Addicks youth player, Alex Woodyard, signed from Lincoln where he’s just had a fantastic year.

Odds: Promotion 5/1; Relegation 14/1
Player to watch: Alex Woodyard
Charlton connection: Alex Woodyard
CA hunch: Could go one way or the other with Evans. I’m going to say that he and Darragh MacAnthony blow up.

Plymouth Argyle produced the most remarkable revival of any team in the top four divisions to find themselves in play-off contention by February, ultimately falling just three points short of the top six.

Derek Adams moved to become ‘Head of Football’ in the summer, which gives the Scotsman a much broader oversight at Home Park. Backed by seemingly smart owner James Brent, Adams has been active in the transfer market signing Scottish defender Peter Grant from Falkirk, Everton pair Conor Grant, a midfielder and Callum Dyson, a forward. Strengthening the defence Niall Canavan is a more experienced acquisition and Scott Wootten signs from MK Dons. Adams also plucked attacking full back Ashley Smith-Brown from Man City’s stock pile of youngsters.

Sonny Bradley was a big a loss though, moving to Luton. Simon Church retired and Luke McCormack (now at Swindon) was one of 12 players released. Argyle used 7 goalkeepers last season but Adams will probably settle on Wolves loanee Harry Burgoyne, although he has less first team games under his belt than Dillon Phillips. As always Graham Carey will be invaluable and Arygle will look to target man Ryan Taylor for goals.

Odds: Promotion 8/1; Relegation 15/2
Player to watch: Graham Carey
Charlton connection:
CA hunch: I think Plymouth will carry on where they left off under Derek Adams and will be promotion challengers.

There are plenty of experienced managers in League One, but I have always liked Kenny Jackett and he begins his second season at Portsmouth, and after former Disney chief executive Michael Eisner’s takeover last summer, Pompey have looked like a club very much on the up.

Jackett hasn’t tinkered with his squad too much this summer. Players like Brett Pitman (18 goals last season), Jamal Lowe, Luke McGee and highly rated Matt Clarke remain. Winger Kai Naismith left for Wigan and youngster Christian Oxlade Chamberlain (Alex’s brother) moved to Notts County.

Key addition was the versatile midfielder Tom Naylor, who joined from Burton. Lewisham born Anton Walkes made a permanent move from Tottenham after being on loan at Fratton Park last season, full back Lee Brown signed from Bristol Rovers and Bromley striker Louis Dennis was also added.

Odds: Promotion 9/2; Relegation 20/1
Player to watch: Matt Clarke
Charlton connection:
CA hunch: I naturally think Pompey will be stronger this season. Jackett builds teams and doesn’t throw them up. Top 6.

Final Part Three later in the week.

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