The first instalment of a five-part series profiling the Grecians' 2016/17 opponents
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, we bring you the first instalment of a five-part series.
Manager: John Coleman
Home: Wham Stadium
Last season’s top-scorer: Billy Kee (17)
The division's surprise package last term, Accrington Stanley missed out on automatic promotion on the final day of the campaign.
After a slow start to the season which saw them pick up a solitary win in eight games, Stanley hit a purple patch thanks largely to the goals of Billy Kee and Josh Windass. They will have to make do without the latter next term, having seen the 22-year-old head north of the border to sign for Rangers alongside fellow midfielder Matt Crooks.
Manager John Coleman has looked to dampen expectations ahead of the coming season after Stanley’s success in 2015/16: “We’ll go again next year but it will be more difficult. Teams will be wise to us and we won’t be the surprise package.”
Manager: Martin Allen
Home: The Hive Stadium
Last season’s top-scorer: John Akinde (24)
Barnet made a solid return to the Football League with a fifteenth-place finish in 2015/16.
Bees fans will have been disappointed to see captain Andy Yiadom leave for newly-promoted Championship side Barnsley last month, but contract extensions for Curtis Weston, Sam Togwell, Michael Nelson and Bondz N’Gala will see the core of the side remain intact.
The London club registered some impressive victories last term, seeing off the likes of Northampton Town, Oxford United, Bristol Rovers and Plymouth Argyle.
Martin Allen: “We’ve had a fantastic run and the team have done really well. We’ve had some of our young players coming in which has been a breath of fresh air, so there has been lots of positives.”
Barnet's Curtis Weston (right) has signed a new deal at The Hive Stadium this summer.
Manager: Gary Bowyer
Home: Bloomfield Road
2015/16: 22nd (League One)
Last season’s top-scorer: Mark Cullen (9)
Relegated from the third tier last season, Blackpool kick-off 2016/17 against Exeter City on 6th August. A Premier League side little over five years ago, the Tangerines will be looking to stabilise after a turbulent few seasons.
The Seasiders have added some firepower to the ranks this summer, recruiting forwards Colin Daniel and Kyle Vassell alongside former Plymouth Argyle striker Jamille Matt; scorer of the opening goal in the Devon derby last April.
Recently-appointed manager Gary Bowyer said: “We have to develop a positive mentality by working with the players and recruiting intelligently. It’s a similar sort of situation to when I took over at Blackburn; I have to bring stability first and foremost and then try and get similes back on people’s faces.”
Jamille Matt celebrates scoring the opener in the Devon derby last April.
Manager: Shaun Derry
Home: Abbey Stadium
Last season’s top-scorer: Luke Berry (13)
Cambridge United will be looking to go one better this season after a ninth-place finish in 2015/16.
Manager Shaun Derry has wasted no time in recruiting fresh faces, signing Medy Elito, George Maris, David Gregory and former Accrington Stanley winger Piero Mingoia.
The U’s head out to the Netherlands for pre-season training in just over one week’s time, and Derry believes that the tour will provide the perfect opportunity for his squad to gel ahead of the upcoming season: “As much as we love being at the training ground, sometimes it’s just nice to try something a little bit out of the ordinary. It’s really important to create some sort of togetherness as quickly as you can and Holland will enable us to do that.”
David Wheeler looks to gain some ground at Cambridge.
Manager: Keith Curle
Home: Brunton Park
Last season’s top-scorer: Jabo Ibehre (17)
Despite having to play several home fixtures away from Brunton Park last season due to flood damage, Carlisle United still managed to finish in tenth place in 2015/16.
As well as achieving a respectable league finish, the Cumbrians progressed to the third round of the of the EFL Cup and the fourth round of the FA Cup, only to be knocked out by Liverpool and Everton respectively.
Carlisle boss Keith Curle has sought to freshen up his squad over the close season. A number of high-profile players have been shown the exit door, with six new players heading in.
Finding the perfect balance is, according to Curle, the key priority: “The minimum number I would look to go into the season would be twenty-two players. I we got that it would still leave me with a little bit of room for movement because you always work on twenty to twenty-five per cent of your squad being unavailable at any one time. I wouldn’t be disappointed with a squad of twenty-four as long as the players are the right calibre and adding the right skill sets to the squad.”
Managers Paul Tisdale and Keith Curle on the St James Park pitch.