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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 July, 2004, 16:54 GMT 17:54 UK
League Two form guide


Nickname: The Pilgrims
Ground: York Street
Capacity: 6,543
Last season: 11th
Manager: Steve Evans (March 2004)

Andy Kirk (Hearts), Austin McCann (Hearts), Jason Lee (Falkirk), Martin Carruthers (Macclesfield), Paul Gascoigne, Matt O'Halloran (Chesterfield), David Staff, Gareth Jelleyman (Peterborough, loan), Courtney Pitt (Oxford).

Graeme Jones (Bury), Derek Lilley (Livingston, 22,500), Stuart Balmer (Clyde), Matt Hocking (Stevenage), Dene Cropper (King's Lynn), Mark Angel (King's Lynn), Ben Chapman, Stuart Douglas, Steve Croudson.

BBC Sport verdict:
The Pilgrims have been on the up since Steve Evans returned as manager in March - with the signing of Paul Gascoigne their latest coup.

Gazza will be an inspiration if he stays long-term, but expect Boston to figure in the play-off race anyhow.

Key man:
Paul Gascoigne


Nickname: Pirates
Ground: Memorial Stadium
Capacity: 11,976
Last season: 15th
Manager: Ian Atkins (April 2004)

James Hunt (Oxford), Craig Hinton (Kidderminster), Steve Elliott (Blackpool), Stuart Campbell (Grimsby), Craig Disley (Mansfield), Jamie Forrester (Hull), Paul Trollope (Northampton), Robbie Ryan (Millwall), Richard Walker (Oxford).

Danny Williams (Wrexham), Wayne Carlisle (Leyton Orient), Andy Rammell, Adam Barrett (Southend), Kevin Austin (Swansea), Paul Tait (Rochdale), Anwar Uddin (Dagenham), Neil Arndale, Danny Boxall, Bo Henriksen, Graham Hyde.

BBC Sport verdict:
After three years of fighting to stay in the League, the new-look Pirates now finally look capable of challenging for promotion.

The know-how of Paul Trollope and Jamie Forrester will be invaluable but Rovers need Lee Thorpe to get among the goals.

Key man:
Jamie Forrester


Nickname: Shakers
Ground: Gigg Lane
Capacity: 11,669
Last season: 12th
Manager: Graham Barrow (December 2003)

Dave Challinor (Stockport), Dwayne Mattis (Huddersfield), Jon Newby (Huddersfield), Graeme Jones (Boston), Brian Barry-Murphy (Sheffield Wednesday).

Gareth Seddon (Rushden), George Clegg, Paul O'Shaughnessy, Lewis Solly, Lee Connell.

BBC Sport verdict:
Much will rely on Graham Barrow's ability to get the most from his squad as the cash-strapped Shakers have little money for strengthening.

Even if Graeme Jones does rediscover his scoring touch Bury will struggle, and survival is their only real target.

Key man:
Danny Swailes


Nickname: The U's
Ground: The Abbey Stadium
Capacity: 9,247
Last season: 13th
Manager: Herve Renard (May 2004)

Matt Robinson (Ipswich), Jermaine Easter (Hartlepool), Ashley Nicholls (Darlington), Abdel El Kholti (Yeovil), Igor Yedo-Latte (Cerielo), Louis-George Mongin (GAP), Sully Seychelles.

Terry Fleming (Grimsby), Mark Venus (Hibernian, coaching role), Fred Murray (Northampton), Martin Brennan (Welling), Alex Revell, Chris Clarke (York), Stuart Bimson (Accrington, loan), Gilbert Prilasnig, Brian Dutton, David Bridges, Sully Seychelles.

BBC Sport verdict:
Herve Renard steered the U's out of trouble last season and his side are unlikely to struggle this time.

New arrival Jermaine Easter is unproven but Luke Guttridge and Shane Tudor are solid enough to ensure a mid-table finish.

Key man:
Luke Gutteridge


Nickname: The Robins
Ground: Whaddon Road
Capacity: 7,407
Last season: 14th
Manager: John Ward (November 2003)

Michael Taylor (Blackburn), Steve Guinan (Hereford), Ashley Vincent (Wolves), Scott Brown (Bristol City), Chris Murphy (Telford), JJ Melligan (Wolves, 25,000), Gavin Caines (Walsall).

Michael Duff (Burnley, 30,000) Ben Cleverley (Forest Green), Lee Howells (Merthyr Tydfil), Antony Griffin (Dorchester), Bob Taylor, Steve Book, Paul Brayson, Luke Buttery, Craig Dobson, Richard Forsyth.

BBC Sport verdict:
Robins boss John Ward will be keen to build on last season's 14th place finish, but it will not be easy.

Ward has used his Wolves connections to bring in Ashley Vincent and JJ Melligan but much responsibility will lie with impressive midfielder Grant McCann.

Key man:
Grant McCann


Nickname: The Blues
Ground: Deva Stadium
Capacity: 6,000
Last season: Conference champions
Manager: vacant

Sean Hessey (Kilmarnock), Stephen Vaughan (Liverpool), Stewart Drummond (Morecambe), Richard Hope (York), Andrew Watson (Farsley Celtic), Cortez Belle (Merthyr Tydfil), Michael Branch (Bradford), Chris MacKenzie (Telford), Darren Edmondson (York).

Mark Wright (manager), Alex Smith (Wrexham), Scott Guyett (Yeovil), Michael Twiss (Morecambe), Chris Lane (Leigh RMI), Shaun Carey (Hornchurch), Carl Ruffer (Morecambe), Ian Foster (Kidderminster), Jamie Heard, Andy Woods.

BBC Sport verdict:
Mark Wright's former side will find things tougher now they are back in the League but the signs are encouraging for the ambitious Deva Stadium outfit.

Striker Michael Branch is their biggest signing of the summer and his goals should mean City end up in the top six.

However, fans will have been shocked by Wright's departure just a day before the start of the new season.

Key man:
Michael Branch


Nickname: The Quakers
Ground: The Arena
Capacity: 25,294
Last season: 18th
Manager: David Hodgson (October 2003)

Joe Kendrick (1860 Munich), Sam Russell (Middlesbrough), Steve Thomas (Wrexham), Curtis Fleming (Crystal Palace).

Barry Conlon (Barnsley), Gary Pearson (York), Danny Mellanby, Ashley Nicholls (Cambridge).

BBC Sport verdict:
Another cash-strapped club who will spend most of their time battling at the wrong end of the table.

David Hodgson has experience of working without money to spend but he will have his work cut out to keep the Quakers up regardless of their off-field problems.

Key man:
Matt Clarke


Nickname: The Mariners
Ground: Blundell Park
Capacity: 10,033
Last season: 21st in Division Two (relegated)
Manager: Russell Slade (May 2004)

Justin Whittle (Hull), Simon Ramsden (Sunderland), Andy Parkinson (Sheff Utd), Terry Fleming (Cambridge), Ashley Sestanovich (Sheff Utd, season-long loan), Michael Reddy (Sunderland), Ronnie Bull (Millwall), Thomas Pinault (Colchester), Anthony Williams (Hartlepool), Rob Jones (Grimsby).

Stuart Campbell (Bristol Rovers), Phil Jevons (Yeovil), Aidan Davison (Colchester), Iain Anderson (Dundee), Isaiah Rankin (Brentford), Liam Nimmo.

BBC Sport verdict:
The Mariners find themselves in the bottom division after two straight relegations - but manager Russell Slade will surely stop the rot here.

Slade has overhauled his squad, and Town may take time to gel, but they look good bets for a mid-table finish.

Key man:
Michael Reddy


Nickname: Harriers
Ground: Aggborough Stadium
Capacity: 6,500
Last season: 16th
Manager: Jan Molby (October 2003)

Reuben Hazell (Torquay), Daniel Lewis (Studley), Simon Brown (West Brom, loan), Ian Foster (Chester), Jamie Gleeson (Southampton), Simon Russell (Hull), Youssou Diop , Frederic Advice-Desrulsseaux, Micky Mellon (Fleetwood Town), Adrian Viveash (Swindon, loan), Iyseden Christie (Mansfield).

Craig Hinton (Bristol Rovers), Matt Gadsby (Forest Green), John Williams (Bath), Adam Murray (Mansfield), Dean Bennett (Wrexham), Stuart Brock (Telford), Adam Willis (Hinckley), Sean Parrish (Telford), Scott Stamps, Graham Ward, Mark Yates, Kenny Coleman.

BBC Sport verdict:
Jan Molby took Harriers to the Conference title in his first spell in charge at Aggborough, and kept them in the League last season.

Some exotic signings have bolstered his squad but it would be unrealistic to expect Harriers to go up next May.

Key man:
Dean Keates


Nickname: The O's
Ground: Brisbane Road
Capacity: 5,000
Last season: 19th
Manager: Martin Ling (September 2003)

Lee Steele (Oxford), Alan White (Colchester), Wayne Carlisle (Bristol Rovers), Michael Simpson (Wycombe).

Matthew Joseph (Canvey Island), Chris Tate (Mansfield), Simon Downer, Ciaran Toner (Lincoln C), Matthew Brazier.

BBC Sport verdict:
The O's tenth straight season in the basement division will not end in promotion - but Martin Ling's side will not go down either.

Ling has toughened up his squad but needs a consistent goalscorer if his side is to rise above mediocrity.

Key man:
Michael Simpson


Nickname: The Red Imps
Ground: Sincil Bank
Capacity: 10,147
Last season: 7th (lost in play-off semi-finals)
Manager: Keith Alexander (May 2002)

Dean West (Burnley), Peter Folkes (Bradford), Michael Blackwood (Telford), Nathan Peat (Hull), Simon Rayner (Port Talbot), Ciaran Toner (Leyton Orient), Gareth McAuley (Coleraine).

Mark Bailey (Macclesfield), Rory May (Tamworth), Ben Sedgemore (Barnet), Richard Liburd (Eastwood), Scott Willis (Halifax), Kevin George, Niall McNamara, Allan Pearce, David Wattley, Aron Wilford, Darren Horrigan.

BBC Sport verdict:
Keith Alexander's brand of direct football does not win the Imps many admirers but few can doubt the effectiveness of their tactics.

Losers in the play-offs in the last two seasons, they will again be a permanent fixture in the top ten.

Key man:
Peter Gain


Nickname: The Silkmen
Ground: Moss Rose
Capacity: 6,235
Last season: 20th
Manager: Brian Horton (March 2004)

Tony Barras (Notts County), Thomas Rooney (Tranmere), Joey Jones (Everton), Mark Bailey (Lincoln), Michael Briscoe (Coventry, Neil Morgan (Nottingham Forest), Alan Fettis (Hull), Mike Sheron (Blackpool).

Martin Carruthers (Boston), David Smith, David Miskelly, Jason van Blerk, Chris Priest, Karl Munroe, James Olsen, George Abbey.

BBC Sport verdict:
Brian Horton performed a miracle to keep the Silkmen in the League last year - and he will need a repeat performance this time.

The Silkmen have a threadbare squad and Horton will have his work cut out to keep them out of the drop zone.

Key man:
Matthew Tipton


Nickname: The Stags
Ground: Field Mill
Capacity: 9,990
Last season: 5th (lost in play-off final)
Manager: Keith Curle (December 2002)

Adam Murray (Kidderminster, undisclosed), Scott McNiven (Oxford), Alex Neil (Barnsley), Chris Tate (Leyton Orient), Derek Asamoah (Northampton, undisclosed).

Liam Lawrence (Sunderland), Andy White (Crewe) Jamie Clarke (Rochdale), Tony Vaughan (Barnsley), Craig Disley (Bristol Rovers), Chris Beardsley (Doncaster), Craig Mitchell (Leigh RMI), Bobby Hassell (Barnsley), Iyseden Christie (Kidderminster), Mark Hurst, Laurent D'Jaffo.

BBC Sport verdict:
The Stags must bounce back after losing last season's play-off final on penalties, but should put that behind them and challenge at the top.

Liam Lawrence has left but crucially Rhys Day stayed on, and his commanding presence at the back is a huge boost.

Key man:
Rhys Day


Nickname: The Cobblers
Ground: Sixfields Stadium
Capacity: 7,653
Last season: 6th (lost in play-off semi-finals)
Manager: Colin Calderwood (October 2003)

David Galbraith, Scott McGleish (Colchester), David Rowson (Partick), Tommy Jaszczun (Blackpool), Fred Murray (Cambridge), Pedj Bojic (Sydney Olympic), Bertrand Cozic (Hereford Utd).

Chris Hargreaves (Brentford), Paul Trollope (Bristol Rovers), Derek Asamoah (Mansfield), Paul Reid (Barnsley), John Taylor (Dag & Red), Glyn Thompson, Greg Lincoln, Des Lyttle.

BBC Sport verdict:
A superb run took them into the play-offs last season and they are many people's favourites to go straight up into League One this time round.

Town boss Colin Calderwood will ensure his side keep working hard however, and they will be in the top six come May.

Key man:
Martin Smith


Nickname: The Magpies
Ground: Meadow Lane
Capacity: 20,300
Last season: 23rd in Division Two (relegated)
Manager: Gary Mills (January 2004)

Glynn Hurst (Chesterfield), Chris Palmer (Derby), Mathew Gill (Peterborough), Mike Whitlow (Sheff Utd), Gavin Gordon (Cardiff), Julien Baudet (Rotherham).

Paul Heffernan (Bristol City, 125,000), Tony Barras (Macclesfield), Nick Fenton (Doncaster), Ian Baraclough (Scunthorpe), Tony Hackworth (Scarborough), Stuart Garden (Ross County), Kevin Nicholson, Simon Baldry, Frazer McHugh, Paul Riley, Jonathan Bewers, Mark Briggs.

BBC Sport verdict:
The last time the Magpies were in the League's bottom division -1997/98 - they romped to the title.

But the club's precarious financial situation makes things more difficult this time round and the Magpies will have to settle for a mid-table finish.

Key man:
Mike Whitlow


Nickname: The U's
Ground: The Kassam Stadium
Capacity: 12,450
Last season: 9th
Manager: Graham Rix (March 2004)

Terry Parker (Portsmouth), Mark E'Beyer (MK Dons), Barry Quinn (Coventry), Danny Morgan (MK Dons), Lee Bradbury (Walsall), Rob Wolleaston (Bradford), Chris Tardif (Portsmouth), David Mackay (Dundee), David Woozley (Torquay), Tommy Mooney (Swindon), Leo Roget (Rushden), Lee Molyneaux.

Lee Steele (Leyton Orient), James Hunt (Bristol Rovers), Andy Crosby (Scunthorpe), Dean Whitehead (Sunderland, fee TBC), Scott McNiven (Mansfield), Andy Woodman (Stevenage), Matt Bound (Weymouth), Manny Omoyinmi (Gravesend), Paul McCarthy, Richard Walker (Bristol Rovers), Courtney Pitt (Boston).

BBC Sport verdict:
The departure of Ian Atkins took the edge off the U's promotion bid last season but they should see the job through this season under Graham Rix.

Some intriguing signings include perennial under-achiever Lee Bradbury - who should find League Two a breeze.

Key man:
Tommy Mooney


Nickname: Dale
Ground: Spotland
Capacity: 10,208
Last season: 21st
Manager: Steve Parkin (December 2003)

Neil Brisco (Port Vale), Jamie Clarke (Mansfield), Chris Armstrong (Leeds), Paul Tait (Bristol Rovers), Ashley Probets (Arsenal).

Neil Redfearn (Scarborough), Michael Simpkins (Burton Albion), Matt Doughty (Halifax), Lee McEvilly (Accrington), Rory Patterson (Radcliffe Borough), Simon Grand, Shaun Smith (York), Stephen Hill, Sean McClare, Chris Beech, Chris Armstrong (Queen of the South).

BBC Sport verdict:
Survived by the skin of their teeth last season and face a long, hard battle against relegation over the coming months.

Boss Steve Parkin knows his way around League Two but Dale's squad needs strengthening if they are to stay up.

Key man:
Kevin Townson


Nickname: Diamonds
Ground: Nene Park
Capacity: 6,441
Last season: 22nd in Division Two (relegated)
Manager: Ernie Tippett (April 2004)

Sean Connelly (Tranmere), Alex Hay (Tranmere) Gareth Seddon (Bury), Rob Gier (MK Dons), Peter Hawkins (MK Dons), Graham Allen (Tranmere), Kevin Braniff (Millwall), Craig Dove (Middlesbrough), Phil Gulliver (Middlesbrough), Lee Worgan.

Rodney Jack (Oldham), Leo Roget (Oxford), Andy Edwards (Southend), Ritchie Hanlon (Stevenage), Stephen Gahan, Owen Story, Paul Kitson, Stuart Wardley.

BBC Sport verdict:
Last season was a nightmare for the Diamonds who slid slowly into the relegation zone after a bad run - and never found a way out.

Off-the-field problems did not help, and the club will need to find a buyer before they can think about promotion.

Key man:
Gareth Seddon


Nickname: The Iron
Ground: Glanford Park
Capacity: 9,183
Last season: 22nd
Manager: Brian Laws (April 2004)

Andy Crosby (Oxford), Paul Musselwhite (Hull), Ian Baraclough (Notts County).

Paul Groves (York), Alex Calvo-Garcia, Ian Kilford (Barrow).

BBC Sport verdict:
Brian Laws is back in charge after being sacked, then reinstated, at the end of last season - and The Iron will need his know-how next season.

Laws took Scunthorpe out of the old Division Three in 1999, but he will be occupied with staying up this season.

Key man:
Steve Torpey


Nickname: The Shrews
Ground: Gay Meadow
Capacity: 8,000
Last season: 3rd in the Conference (won play-offs)
Manager: Jimmy Quinn (May 2003)

John Grant (Telford), Stuart Whitehead (Telford), Ben Smith (Hereford).

Greg Rioch (Northwich), Ian Dunbavin (Halifax), Glenn Tolley (AFC Telford).

BBC Sport verdict:
The Shrews' first aim will be to consolidate after winning back their League status at the first attempt - and should do so with ease.

Goals will not be a problem either, with Luke Rodgers hungry for success and a proven scorer at this level.

Key man:
Luke Rodgers


Nickname: The Shrimpers
Ground: Roots Hall
Capacity: 12,343
Last season: 17th
Manager: Steve Tilson (November 2003)

Andy Edwards (Rushden), Nicky Nicolau (Arsenal), Wayne Gray (MK Dons), Adam Barrett (Bristol Rovers), Bart Griemink (Swindon), Lewis Hunt (Derby), Carl Pettefer (Exeter), Lawrie Dudfield (Northampton).

Leon Constantine (Peterborough), Neil Jenkins (Crawley), Jamie Stuart (Hornchurch), David McSweeney (Crawley), Leon Cort (Hull), Mark Warren (Fisher), Steve Clark (Hornchurch, Leke Odunsi, Jamie Fullerton, Ryan Robinson, Carl Emberson.

BBC Sport verdict:
Steve Tilson has performed miracles since taking charge and hopes are high he can keep delivering.

Tilson has made radical changes to his squad this summer, but despite losing Leon Cort and Leon Constantine, United can be surprise play-off contenders.

Key man:
Jay Smith


Nickname: The Swans
Ground: Vetch Field
Capacity: 11,807
Last season: 10th
Manager: Kenny Jackett (April 2004)

Kevin Austin (Bristol Rovers), Gary Fisken (Watford), Adrian Forbes (Luton), Garry Monk (Barnsley), Sam Ricketts (Telford).

Roger Freestone (Newport), Leyton Maxwell, Richard Jones, Karl Connolly, Jonathan Coates, Michael Howard (Morecambe), Stuart Roberts.

BBC Sport verdict:
Kenny Jackett is highly-rated as a coach and his tactical nous should turn the Swans from also-rans to title contenders this season.

Lee Trundle, when fit, guarantees goals and the Swans' squad is strong enough to challenge for automatic promotion.

Key man:
Lee Trundle


Nickname: The Chairboys
Ground: Causeway Stadium
Capacity: 10,000
Last season: 24th in Division Two (relegated)
Head coach: Tony Adams (November 2003)

Mike Williamson (Southampton, season-long loan), Joe Burnell (Bristol City), Shahed Ahmed (MK Dons), Gary Silk (Portsmouth, loan), Gus Uhlenbeek (Chesterfield), Clint Easton (Norwich), Stuart Nethercott (Millwall), Ian Stonebridge (Plymouth, nominal).

Dannie Bulman (Stevenage), Ian Simpemba (Crawley Town), Michael Simpson (Leyton Orient), Andy Thomson (Forest Green), Chris Vinnicombe (Tiverton), Mark Rogers (Stevenage), Charlie Mapes (Crawley), Scott Marshall, Richard Harris, Lewis Cook, Steve Brown, Darren Currie.

BBC Sport verdict:
Tony Adams' first term as a manager ended in relegation, but he is unlikely to have as eventful a time in his first full season in charge.

Adams needs time to learn the ropes and although his side will not struggle, going back up looks a long way off yet.

Key man:
Nathan Tyson


Nickname: The Glovers
Ground: Huish Park
Capacity: 9,107
Last season: 8th
Manager: Gary Johnson (June 2001)

Scott Guyett (Chester), Phil Jevons (Grimsby), Michael Rose (Hereford), Adrian Caceres (Perth Glory), Nicolas Mirza (Paris St Germain), Bartozs Tarachulski, Yemi Odubade (Eastbourne Town), Keize Ibe (Bromley).

Adam Stansfield (Hereford), Nick Crittenden (Aldershot), Jake Edwards (Exeter), Dani Rodrigues (Bournemouth), Kirk Jackson (Hornchurch), Abdel El Kholti (Cambridge), Lee Elam, Jamie Gosling, Ryan Northmoor, Jake Edwards.

BBC Sport verdict:
The Glovers faded after a promising start to their last campaign but should feature prominently in the end-of-season shake-up this time.

Gary Johnson has added steel to his squad over the summer but there is still plenty of flair present too.

Key man:
Scott Guyett

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