After 20 games played, we’re taking a look at the League Two title race, and how the table has shaped up so far at the top.
Salford City were just a place and two points outside of the play-offs last season, while Bristol Rovers were expected to recover well following relegation from League One.
Here’s the latest from the fourth tier title race, as we take a look at the teams currently occupying the top four spots.
Forest Green (1st)
Current Best Odds: 8/13
Forest Green currently sit in first, despite being pegged back after being 4-1 up against Oldham Athletic. The tie ended 5-5, leaving the Grecians four points clear with a game in hand. They’re still unbeaten at home this season.
It’s safe to say that they’ll be hoping it was a freak result. They’ve reached the play-offs twice in the last three years and missed out on a place in the final last season after a 5-4 aggregate defeat to Newport.
They were seen as a decent outside bet heading into the season, while head coach Rob Edwards has helped to guide the team to their latest unbeaten streak, which currently stands at nine games. Expect the Grecians to be there or thereabouts when all is said and done.
Northampton Town FC (2nd)
Current Best Odds: 8/1
Back in League Two following a poor showing after their play-off triumph in 2020, Northampton Town recently registered a fourth successive victory at Harrogate. The defensive duo of Fraser Horsfall and Jon Guthrie notched a goal apiece in a 2-1 win.
The Cobblers look good for their odds, and they’ve seen off a trio of promotion-chasing teams as they keep one eye on the summit.
From a negative point of view they’ve been hit by a long injury list which includes Shaun McWilliams and Kion Etete, who both missed Saturday's win. Benny Ashley-Seal picked up a recent injury in training, while Aaron McGowan is doubtful after playing with a knock back in October.
Then there’s their long-term absentees Michael Harriman, Dominic Revan, Joseph Mills and Sid Nelson.
Port Vale (3rd)
Current Best Odds: 20/1
Port Vale currently sit in third, although they’ll be looking over their shoulders at a congested table that has yet to separate properly. For example, the Valiants have 35 points with 21 games played, while Harrogate Town sit in 10th with 30 points earned.
As for Vale, all five of their senior strikers and wing-back Dave Worrall were out injured for their 2-1 defeat at Newport. Winger Dennis Politic and midfielder Ben Garrity have formed a makeshift partnership up top, with the latter notching their only goal.
A lack of firepower could see them slipping down the table, which is all but confirmed by their longer odds.
Newport County (4th)
Current Best Odds: 28/1
Newport are fourth, and have been given odds of 28/1 for an unlikely title push.
They’ve snatched fourth spot following their win at Port Vale, coming from behind in the process with two second half goals.
It’s all the more impressive considering the Exiles lost Michael Flynn after the coach resigned in October.
His record after nine league matches saw Newport in 15th, which is a disappointing result for a talented manager who saw the club to the Great Escape, as well as two Play-Off Finals at Wembley.
They’ve climbed the table ever since, while it’s worth noting that they jumped three spots following their latest victory.
The League Two Title Race: Summary
Coming up to the midway point of the season, much depends on whether the Forest Green draw was a simple blip in form. After all, every team is entitled to have an off day once in a while, and they still earned a point.
If so, they should be expected to battle the likes of Northampton for silverware and automatic promotion in an exciting title race over the coming months. Both top the recent form table, with Mansfield Town sneaking in at third.
Forest Green are up against The Stags next, which should be another solid test of their credentials as the runaway leaders.
The games are coming thick and fast, while injuries have affected almost every side to some degree. The next period will be a slog, and one that will surely create some separation between the top and the would-be contenders.
For now, we’d look to the Grecians, although that could all change in a couple of weeks.
QPR, Blackburn and Coventry are all sitting in...