What WSC contributors got right and wrong
7 August ~ While the rest of the League Two contributors were expecting Portsmouth to top the table in 2013-14, their own supporter Leon Tricker had different ideas. "Although the club is in good hands now we're still far from stable. I'll be happy just to avoid another relegation." That looked far from certain in March, as three defeats in a row left Pompey in 22nd, two points outside the relegation zone. A run of five wins in a row made them safe and they eventually finished 13th.
Instead it was the contributors' second favourites, Chesterfield, who ended up with the League Two title. The play-offs were the minimum Howard Borrell was demanding from the Spireites but they were rarely out of the top three and eight games without defeat at the end of the season sealed promotion and first place.
Below the champions were Scunthorpe, a position which will have surprised Steven Askew more than his fellow contributors. "Mid to lower end of the table," he said. "There has been a sustained collapse over the last three years. Manager Brian Laws has brought back some of his relatively successful old guard but the club may have reverted to type." The Iron were bang on Askew's prediction until Laws was replaced by assistant Russ Willcox and they went on a 28-game unbeaten run to gain promotion.
Rochdale's third place was a surprise to most, who had them finishing in mid-table. Even their own contributors David Emanuel and Mike Rowley only expected to be "in or around the play-off places". They briefly looked set to overhaul Chesterfield at the top but will settle for a return to League One under Keith Hill.
Two teams expected to be challenging for promotion, Northampton and Bristol Rovers, ended up spending the season battling relegation. Mark Pacan thought the Cobblers' season would depend on how they reacted to "play-off final humiliation" in 2012-13, though even his worst-case scenario was lower mid-table. In the end they dropped into the relegation zone in September and didn't escape until winning their final two games of the season.
"If we can carry on our form [under John Ward] we have the potential to do pretty well," said Jim Gwinnell of Bristol Rovers. Ward was moved to director of football and replaced by assistant Darrell Clarke as Rovers struggled throughout, though they were only in the relegation zone for 54 minutes. Unfortunately for them it was the final 54 minutes of the season, and they dropped out of the League for the first time in 94 years.
Torquay were expected to struggle and ended up rooted to the bottom from February onwards, much to the surprise of Peter Hicks who thought "a late run into the top half" was what they could look forward to. It was a reprieve for Wycombe, predicted to finish top half by most including Paul Lewis, who "expected comfortable survival". In the end they escaped on goal difference on the final day.
Fleetwood continued their rise up the leagues, finishing fourth and winning the play-off final against Burton Albion. That's lucky for manager Graham Alexander, who Alasdair Pal predicted would be "under serious pressure" if they weren't around the play-offs all season. In their play-off semi-final Fleetwood beat York, who defied predictions of the lower half under Nigel Worthington and went on a 17-game unbeaten run to finish seventh. It was even a surprise to Jim Waterson, who was expecting a "season of consolidation" which would involve "spending just enough to stay in League Two without going bust".
The WSC 2014-15 season preview will be in shops on Tuesday August 12