May 11, 2008

England, League Two 2007-’08: the 3 Promoted Clubs, and the 4 Playoff Contenders.

Filed under: Eng-4th Level/League Two,Engl. Promotion Candidates — admin @ 8:01 am


In League Two (which is the 4th Level of English Football) MK Dons, Peterborough, and Hereford have clinched promotion to League One, by finishing in first, second, and third places.

MK Dons, with their giant new stadium, clearly have ambitions beyond the third tier.  There is still a great deal of antipathy towards the club, from many in the English footballing world, for the way they abandoned the fans of South London, when Wimbledon FC moved up to Buckinghamshire, in 2005.  That being said, their new fan base is growing in the Milton Keynes area: attendance has risen from 4,896 (in 2004-’05, the club’s first year in Milton Keynes) to 9,456 (this season).

Peterborough United also has the reputation of a club with ambitions.  The ”Posh” are managed by Darren Ferguson, the son of Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson.  There is new ownership at the club {see this}, and continued investment in new players is expected.   There also is an initiative for a new stadium.  The club’s attendance was up by around 1,300 this season, to an average of 5,995.

Hereford United stands in direct contrast to the other two automatically promoted clubs, as they are not a small club with big ambitions, but a small club that has found a way to survive, and even thrive, in spite of little fan support, miniscule cash-flow, and a stadium that really deserves the wrecking ball.  Their ground, Edgar Street is one of the most bare-bones and outdated stadiums in the League {see this};   {see this, from The Ground Guide 1, a Lincoln City travelling fans’ site}.  The club had a heavy reliance on loan players during this campaign.  And the inhabitants of Herefordshire seem uninterested in the club’s recent success…there was an average of only 3,421 this season.   But the bottom line is that the Hereford United Bulls will be in the third tier next season, after their second promotion in three years.

In the League Two Playoffs, it’s #6 Darlington  vs.  #5 Rochdale;   and #4 Stockport County  vs.  #7 Wycombe Wanderers

The in-form club was Rochdale, who had won 5 of their last 8 league games; conversely, it was Darlington who went into the playoffs on a down, losing 4 of their last 8.  But on Saturday, Darlington resisted a second half Rochdale onslaught, which included a deflected goal by the Dale’s 2007 leading scorer Chris Dagnall {see this profile, from the Rochdale site} (now fully rcovered from a cruciate injury).  Darlington then scored a late goal against the run of play, via an Ian Miller injury-time header, to win the first leg 2-1.  {Click here, for a report on the match, from the Sky Sports site.}

**{Click here for video highlights (youtube, via 101 Goals site)}. 

Darlington’s first goal came as a result of on-loan Middlesbrough winger Jason Kennedy, who curled a sublime shot from the left corner of the penalty area in the 28th minute. The second leg, at Rochdale’s Spotland {see this, from Ground Guide 1} will be on 17 May (next Saturday).   Rochdale has remained in the 4th Level for 34 straight seasons, the longest of any club currently in League Two.  [Note: on the map, Rochdale's usual blue home jersey is replaced by one that looks like Newcastle's, because the club is celebrating their Centenary, and black-and-white vertical stripes was their original uniform.  Next season, the club has come up with the inspired idea of combining both jerseys...they will look like Inter Milan, with black and blue vertical stripes.]

In the other League Two playoff match-up, Stockport County hosts Wycombe on Sunday; the second leg is also on 17 May.

Here is the winning goal in the League Championship Playoff game (first leg)- Crystal Palace 1-2 Bristol City.  The fantastic shot was scored by Bristol’s David Noble, in injury time…{Click here (from the 101 Goals site)}.    {Click here, for a report on the match, from the Sky Sports site.}

Thanks to ( for the kits. 

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