Market Movers: League One promotion race tightens up

Market Movers: League One promotion race tightens up

With leaders Ipswich losing 2-0 at Accrington Stanley on Sunday, the League One promotion race has tightened up this weekend.

Gabriel Sutton (@_FootbalLab) assesses six contenders.

Ipswich Town Promotion

Why they can go up

Firstly, Ipswich are top of the league with 27 points from 12 games.

Secondly, the Tractor Boys boast by far the division’s best defensive record with only seven conceded.

Thirdly, Paul Lambert has lifted the spirit around the club by making a clear effort to connect with supporters.

Finally, they have Kayden Jackson, who possesses searing pace and striker James Norwood, who can threaten goal from many different areas in a deadly front-two.

Why they might not

The defeat at Accrington Stanley suggested that, when you take Kane Vincent-Young, Wilson, Flynn Downes and Norwood out of Ipswich’s XI, they look distinctly average.

It is important to remember that Town are re-building after four years of gradual decline, so it would be wrong to expect them to have the perfect squad after one post-relegation transfer window.

Verdict

Top two finish: Ipswich are 8/15 with Betfair to be promoted.

Wycombe Wanderers Promotion

Why they can go up

Gareth Ainsworth.

The man appears to be staying following interest from Sunderland and Millwall – he has a history of getting teams performing well above expectation and budgetary rank.

The Chairboys have a consistent rear-guard of Jack Grimmer, Anthony Stewart, Darius Charles and Joe Jacobson, yet they also possess depth in attacking areas – more so than we have seen in previous seasons.

Why they might not

Shortage of options in midfield.

Evergreen Chairboy Matt Bloomfield is a club legend but can rarely manage 90 minutes these days, Alex Pattison is supremely talented but injury prone while Curtis Thompson is a superb ball-winner but often gets suspended.

Wycombe do not have an academy, so Gareth Ainsworth must be praying that, between now and May, silky operator Nick Freeman and midfield anchor Dominic Gape will be able to start every week.

Verdict

Wycombe look well on their way to ticking off 50 points nice and early this year; whether or not their Autumn promotion dreams come to fruition, this looks likely to be a year of huge progress on and off the field. They are 11/2 with Betfair.

Peterborough United Promotion

Why they can go up

The front three.

Marcus Maddison, Ivan Toney and Mo Eisa have already scored a whopping 26 league goals between them this season.

With Maddison’s sweet left foot, which has made him the most naturally gifted player in League One for the last half-decade and Toney’s athleticism and poaching instincts combined with Mo Eisa’s skilful finesse, Posh pose a direct threat.

After a middling few years, Peterborough seem to be back to their goal-crazy best and a continuation of their current goals per game ratio would see them score 106 goals – the same number they managed in the 2010-11 Play-Off promotion campaign.

Why they might not

Goalkeeper Christy Pym endured an underwhelming first two months of the campaign, even if his display in the 2-0 win over Lincoln suggested incremental improvements.

Verdict

Firepower could elevate the Posh to top spot – they are an intriguing 9/2 with Betfair for the title.

Fleetwood Town Promotion

Why they can go up

The midfield pairing of Paul Coutts, impressive in the division above for Sheffield United and Jordon Rossiter, a metronomic presence at Bury last season, is a huge asset.

Fleetwood boast an Expected Goals Ratio (xGR) of 63.27%; the best out of all the teams in the top six.

Even when not at their best, as they have not been in the first half of games recently, they still have a clinical finisher in Paddy Madden and can therefore win games in different ways.

Why they might not

The uncertainty over Joey Barton’s legal battle could be a negative factor.

Verdict

Should be in the top six but may just miss out on promotion. At 21/10, they have been given an outside chance to do such.

Oxford United Promotion

Why they can go up

They have addressed key areas.

This summer, the main question marks over Oxford were their options at centre-back, right-back and up top.

Elliott Moore came in as a centre-back option but has found himself behind John Mousinho, who has partnered the improved Rob Dickie.

Chris Cadden has been a right-back revelation while Matty Taylor, when fit again, will offer much-needed competition for veteran Jamie Mackie.

Why they might not

Goalkeeper Simon Eastwood has arguably been in a gradual decline in form over the last 12 to 18 months and has been guilty of errors this season.

While Oxford might be playing as well as they were in 2016-17, off-field leaders in Sumrith Thanakarnjanasuth and Karl Robinson are not quite as popular with fans as Darryl Eales and Michael Appleton were three years ago, when they missed out on the Play-Offs.

Verdict

Oxford’s top six berth could become vulnerable once Sunderland, Portsmouth and Rotherham click into gear. At 4/1 , the U’s hold some big value in this market.

Coventry City Promotion

Why they can go up

Mark Robins.

The Sky Blues boss has generated some optimism around the club and continues to build a young, vibrant and exciting team.

Fankaty Dabo has been a bright addition at right-back while Callum O’Hare adds energy and verve to an otherwise technical midfield.

Why they might not

The injury to Liam Kelly has left Cov short of a natural enforcer; with Liam Walsh at the base in his absence, they often look vulnerable playing out from the back.

When performance levels drop, the feelings of disillusionment that may come with playing home matches away from their home city may return to the surface.

Verdict

Reaching the Play-Offs would be a positive achievement in the circumstances and they have the capacity to do so, if they can get their attack back on song. 15/8 with Betfair for a top six finish.