A League 2 blog with an overwhelmingly pro-Torquay United bias
Welcome to the first of the 8 team summaries I’ve researched and written as part of the joint season preview I’ve put together with fellow League 2 fans @dannybrothers and @maxihobbs. We’re each publishing 2 per evening for the next 4 days (Wednesday to Saturday), and we’ll finish off with a final predicted table on the Sunday. You’ll find links to their previews of the day at the bottom of my posts as they’re released, and I’ll collate all 24 teams into a list accessible via the ‘Previews’ menu above. Without further ado, I give you … Accrington Stanley:
Recap of last season
Stanley punched impressively above their weight last season, achieving a play-off place despite attracting the 2nd smallest crowds in the division (after Macclesfield). They did so in style too, impressing at both ends of the pitch, particularly at home where they boasted a formidable record.
I’ve already mentioned their impressive home record: only 3 teams left the Crown Ground with a league win last season. Many attributed this to the awful state of their pitch, but whatever the cause it could well be their chief asset once more. Nobody in League 2 kept more clean sheets last year – they managed an impressive 17 – while at the other end they struck 3 or more goals in 12 matches.
It was just as well that their home record was so strong last season as they struggled on the road: nobody accumulated fewer away victories than the 3 they managed. Another worry has to be their relatively small crowds, which at this level equates to a smaller playing budget, necessitating less squad depth which could be exposed by a spate of injuries.
Andrew Procter – the inspirational club captain is a highly-motivated and persistent box-to-box midfielder, whose influence will be crucial in driving his team-mates forward. His importance to the team, both on the pitch and in the dressing room, cannot be underestimated.
One to watch
Kurtis Guthrie – snapped from amateur obscurity in Jersey, he immediately announced himself with a goal against Blackburn in pre-season and is already creating a buzz amongst fans. An unknown quantity up front, he could catch a few defences by surprise.
Like many small sides following up on a season of overachievement, Stanley will be expected to experience a disappointing hangover, much as Morecambe endured last season. This doesn’t have to be the case though, but they will most certainly need to replace Jimmy Ryan’s invention in midfield if they’re to pick up where they left off.
Ben: Repeating last season’s performance looks too tall an order, with mid-table a more likely finish.
Danny: I can’t see another play-off campaign, although a top half finish looks possible.
Maxi: Their play-off hangover will lead to a lower mid-table finish.
Links to other teams in this preview can be found here