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Match Previews

Season Preview: 2016/17

6 July 2016

Our club-by-club guide to the 2016/17 season

With preparations for the 2016/17 EFL Sky Bet League 2 season in full flow, we profile the twenty-three teams that Exeter City will face over the course of the coming campaign. Here, contributor Rory Ngah brings you the final instalment of a five-part series.

Portsmouth


 
Manager: Paul Cook
Home: Fratton Park
2015/16: 6th
Last season’s top-scorer: Marc McNulty (12)


After a number of agonising years for Pompey fans, 2015/16 provided an apt tonic as the club fought their way to the play-off semi-final. Nevertheless, it has been widely acknowledged that the club, who spent much of the season threatening the automatic spots, were hampered by a lack of consistency which saw them fail to win any of their last three league games.

In a bid to address this, manager Paul Cook has been active in the transfer market bringing in six new faces to date, with Michael Smith, Milan Lalkovic, Danny Rose, Drew Talbot, Carl Baker and Matt Clarke all dropping down from higher divisions to help Pompey make a concerted push for promotion.

In spite of their disappointment at being knocked out of the playoffs to a stoppage time equaliser, Cook has emphasised the need for a positive approach to the new season, stating: “My job is now to manage the club again and lead by example… I will lift myself and will certainly not be walking around sulking.”


City's 2015/16 Golden Boot winner Jayden Stockley began last season on loan at Fratton Park.

Stevenage


Manager: Darren Sarll
Home: Broadhall Way
2015/16: 18th
Last season’s top-scorer: Chris Whelpdale (9)
Twitter: @StevenageFC


Having reached the play-off semi-finals during the 2014/15 season, Boro fans were left disappointed by their team’s showing during the last campaign, which ended with them languishing deep in the lower half of the table.

Although boss Darren Sarll has brought in two new faces in the form of Andrew Fox and Darren Godden, many of the Stevenage faithful will be praying for more signings after losing the services of ten players, including last season’s top scorer Chris Welpdale.

Sarll has suggested that he will favour traditional methods over the upcoming season: “We are a 4-4-2 nation. We get it wide, we cross it and we head it in the goal. That’s what we do, that’s what we have always done… I don’t know why we can’t just be England and why we have to copy France and Spain.”


Stevenage boss Darren Sarll.

Wycombe Wanderers



Manager: Gareth Ainsworth 
Home: Adams Park
2015/16: 13th
Last season’s top-scorer: Michael Harriman/Garry Thompson (8)


After the agony of losing 7-6 to Southend in a penalty shootout during the 2014/15 play-off finals, the Chairboys were unable to galvanise themselves for another tilt at promotion, finishing eleven points off the play-off places.

Thus far it has been a relatively quiet transfer window with Paris Cowan-Hall re-joining the club on loan from Millwall and Antiguan international Myles Weston joining from League 1 Southend. Perhaps the most exciting news has been the acquisition of 22-year-old striker Dayle Southwell, who scored fifty-four goals across two seasons in the National League for Boston United, whilst working at a fish factory.

Aware that the club’s lack of transfer activity has caused disquiet in sections of the Wanderers’ fanbase, manager Gareth Ainsworth has moved to provide assurance: “We identified a few key targets but found ourselves massively outbid by clubs in our own division… I have every confidence that we we’ll start the season with a squad which is capable of improving on how we finished last year. Believe me, we are working day and night to strengthen the squad in the right areas.”

Paris Cowan-Hall up against Tom McCready last February.


Yeovil Town



Manager: Darren Way
Home: Huish Park
2015/16: 19th
Last season’s top-scorer: Ryan Bird (8)
Twitter: @YTFC

After suffering back-to-back relegations, Yeovil Town were able to stop the rot last season finishing 19th. This season they will be hoping to restore their fans’ faith with a good run.
 
Whilst the initial stages of the transfer window had been quiet at Huish Park, manager Darren Way stepped up his pre-season preparations during the last week of June completing the signings of teenagers Joe Lea and Joshua Ezewele alongside that of Tom Eaves and Otis Khan. The Glovers have also retained the services of right-back Liam Shephard on a six-month loan deal from Swansea City.

One of the interesting features of this Yeovil squad is the way in which it has been built around youth, with Way stating that the Glovers “Offers players a fantastic opportunity to put themselves on the map.” Although Yeovil’s youth policy has, in the main, been based around the loan system, Way has also suggested that this season could see the integration of players from the club’s academy, which was re-launched in 2015: “I am happy to give people their opportunities but they will only get their chance if they show that they are capable of playing in the first-team.”


Liam Shepard is back for his third loan spell at Huish Park.

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