By Riegan Thompson

As the start of the football season draws near, BA (Hons) Multimedia Sports Journalism student Riegan Thompson takes a look at the runners and riders in each of English football’s four leagues, starting with the battle for the EFL League Two crown…

Last season was full of drama, none more so than in the League Two play-off positions which weren’t decided until the last minute of the final day. Ultimately, Blackpool came through the play-offs to win at Wembley and join Plymouth Argyle, Portsmouth and Doncaster Rovers, who all won automatic promotion.

At the other end of the table Leyton Orient’s off field issues affected them on the pitch as they dropped out the Football League for the first time in 112 years, and Hartlepool United’s four-year flirt with relegation finally came to an end.

Joining League Two this year following promotion from the National League are champions and FA Cup giant killers Lincoln City and, for the first time ever in the Football League, Forest Green Rovers. Swindon Town, Chesterfield, Coventry City and Colchester United were all relegated from League One and will all be hoping for a quick return come May.

At the top, Mansfield Town are being tipped for promotion by many. Steve Evans has done his recruiting early on, adding frontman Jimmy Spencer and goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik amongst others. Lincoln are also being tipped for a second successive promotion but will face strong challenges from Coventry and Swindon, who are many people’s favourites to go up.

The dark horses for promotion are Cambridge United who have recruited former Carlisle United striker Jabo Ibehre, who will be hoping to spearhead another promotion push. Exeter City, Carlisle and Notts County are all expected to be in the race for the play-off spots.

At the bottom end of League Two, Newport County could face another relegation fight after last year’s great escape. Morecambe are also being tipped by many to struggle at the foot of the Football League. Yeovil and Wycombe have the smallest squads in the league and may struggle with injuries in the long run.

UCFB student and Grimsby Town fan, Kieran Riley gave his thoughts ahead of the new League Two season. The BA (Hons) Football Business & Media student said: “Looking at some of the signings they’ve made Mansfield Town are looking to be serious promotion contenders, especially with the likes of Jacob Mellis joining. I also expect Luton Town to be up there, they will want to redeem themselves after last season’s play-off failure and there’s no doubt Danny Hylton will provide plenty of goals.”

On the outsiders chances he said: “Although I hate to say it Lincoln are definitely going to be up there. With last season’s FA Cup money and having sold 6,000 season tickets it has allowed them to bring in some good signings. From what I saw last season Danny Cowley’s style of play will be perfect for this league!”

On his own sides chances, Kieran added: From what I have seen this pre-season, I’m very excited with how Grimsby are looking. In my opinion we have to be looked at as potential dark horses. Russell Slade has solidified our defence immensely with Nathan Clarke and Paul Dixon who will shut a lot of teams out. And the young lad Siriki Dembele, signed from the Nike Academy, has to be one of the most exciting players I’ve ever seen at Blundell Park and can’t wait to see him in league action.”