League One team-by-team review of the season so far
Uncertainty hangs over the Sky Bet League One season after the agreed suspension of football action brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
Here, PA takes a club-by-club look at how each of the division’s teams had been faring in the 2019-20 campaign.
Having been seventh in mid-December following defeat at Shrewsbury, Mark Robins’ Sky Blues are now on a 14-match unbeaten run – featuring 11 victories – and sit five points clear at the top of the table, with a game in hand over second-placed Rotherham. The goals of Matt Godden, scorer of back-to-back hat-tricks at Wycombe and Tranmere, have been key.
Rotherham have had a similar rise, going from eighth place in the middle of December to the league’s summit. Paul Warne’s men dropped from first to second while failing to register a win in any of their last three games, and they are currently two points above the play-off positions.
The U’s ended 2019 in the automatic promotion places before winning only one of their first eight league games of 2020. Have subsequently bounced back with five victories in a row.
Kenny Jackett’s men made an underwhelming start to the season but have been in the top six more or less the entire time since late January. Level on points with both Oxford and Fleetwood.
Fleetwood were in the play-off positions until early November before a slump that saw them register only one win in 10 outings. They were not being defeated often in that sequence, though, and Joey Barton’s team are now back among those places having gone 12 games unbeaten.
Posh, a point behind the three sides directly above them, were briefly top in October and have jumped into the automatic promotion berths a couple of times since. Were down to 10th following a December/January six-game winless streak, then triumphed in seven of the next nine matches. Their 24-goal forward Ivan Toney is the division’s top-scorer.
After defeat in last season’s play-off final, Sunderland sacked boss Jack Ross in October with the team lying sixth. Under his successor Phil Parkinson the Black Cats slid as far down as 15th before a significant upturn in results and return to the play-off spots. Currently outside them on goal difference.
Wycombe made a remarkable start to the season, losing only once in their first 20 games and enjoying a run as table-toppers. But eight defeats have been suffered in the subsequent 14 games and having been first on New Year’s Day, Gareth Ainsworth’s men are now eighth, level on points with Peterborough and Sunderland.
After appointing boss Darren Moore as successor to Grant McCann last summer, Doncaster have kept themselves in the race for a play-off place without finding quite the form to occupy one. Currently five points off sixth, with a game in hand over many rivals.
Very much a campaign of two halves – 36 points accrued from their first 18 matches and looking destined for automatic promotion, then 16 from the 18 that followed and currently seven points adrift of the play-off places. The Tractor Boys have lost seven of their last nine games and speculation has been rife about boss Paul Lambert’s position.
While Gillingham were in very decent form at the point the suspension kicked in, having lost only one of their last 17 games, that included nine draws and with 15 overall, they have registered more than any other League One side this term.
Nigel Clough’s 12th-placed men climbed into the play-off spots in mid-January after five wins in six but have taken maximum points just once since then.
The Seasiders were part of the top six for most of the time up until the festive period – then seven defeats were suffered in nine games and boss Simon Grayson was sacked. Neil Critchley has been brought in from Liverpool’s Under-23s as his replacement and so far overseen a draw and a loss.
The Pirates’ play-off push also stuttered in December after manager Graham Coughlan left to join Mansfield. They were fourth at that point – now, with Ben Garner at the helm, they are 10 places lower after winning only twice in 16 matches.
Lincoln are another club to have seen a successful boss depart for pastures new, with Danny Cowley switching to Huddersfield in September. Now with Michael Appleton in charge, the Imps, 10 points above the relegation zone, recorded their first win since January in their final outing before the suspension.
Sam Ricketts’ Shrews have struggled for wins considerably from Boxing Day onwards, but two in their last four outings has provided a significant boost.
The gap between Stanley and the relegation zone was only two points in November. Having had a couple of bursts of form since they are now eight clear in 17th, although they entered the suspension on a dip, with three losses in four games.
After parting company with boss Paul Tisdale in November having lost eight times in nine matches and lying 21st, MK Dons have enjoyed a revival under Russell Martin – they are currently five points clear of the drop zone.
Dale finished 2019 just a point above the relegation zone after eight losses in nine games. They were beaten only twice in the next seven to give themselves more breathing space and and the gap is currently four points.
In late October, AFC Wimbledon found themselves in the relegation places and without a manager following the departure of Wally Downes. Glyn Hodges stepped up from caretaker boss and has managed to keep their heads just above water.
Rovers dropped into the relegation zone on New Year’s Day with a 4-1 home thrashing at the hands of Coventry, and lost six of the next eight games. They have given their survival hopes a major boost by winning each of their last three fixtures, leaving them three points behind AFC Wimbledon with a game in hand.
Southend, who replaced departed boss Kevin Bond with Sol Campbell in October, have experienced major problems both on and off the pitch. With only one win to their name by mid-January, they have long appeared destined for the drop and were 16 points adrift of safety when the suspension began.
Starting the season on minus 12 points after going into administration meant relegation was something Bolton were unlikely to avoid – fans were then relieved to have a club left at all, with the Trotters having been on the verge of liquidation before a takeover in August. Keith Hill came in as boss and has overseen five wins, 10 draws and 14 defeats.
It was a different story for Bury, who also entered the campaign on minus 12 points due to financial difficulties. With owner Steve Dale having missed a final deadline to provide assurances he could fund the club or to sell it to someone who could, the Shakers were expelled from the English Football League on August 27.