Sky Bet League 2 briefing

Team news, statistics and our verdict for the opening weekend in Sky Bet League 2.

Last Updated: 02/08/13 at 14:25 Post Comment

Phil Brown: Southend boss starts season with a home game v Plymouth

Phil Brown: Southend boss starts season with a home game v Plymouth

Saturday, August 3

Bury v Chesterfield

Bury's squad has been revamped this summer with 17 fresh faces coming in through the door at Gigg Lane.

Defender Phil Picken will not be available, though, after sustaining another knee injury which is likely to force him to miss a second successive season.

Central defenders Liam Cooper and Ian Evatt will miss Chesterfield's opening game.

Left-back Nathan Smith is continuing to work his way back to fitness following an ankle injury.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

Last five league matches: Bury L L W D W; Chesterfield W D L W W

Referee: Mark Haywood (W Yorkshire)

Our verdict: Bury 0 Chesterfield 3 - It could take the much-changed Shakers some time to find their feet.

Cheltenham v Burton

Veteran striker Jamie Cureton could make his Cheltenham debut.

Former Rochdale forward Terry Gornell could also make his first competitive start for the club.

Burton will be without centre-half Zander Diamond after damaging a ligament in his foot

Striker Billy Kee could be fit for the big kick-off after battling a sore thigh in pre-season, while veteran midfielder Rory Delap heads a list of nine new signings hoping to make their debuts for the Brewers.

Last season: Burton Albion 3 Cheltenham 1, Cheltenham 1 Burton Albion 0 Last five league matches: Cheltenham W L W W D; Burton Albion L W W L W Referee: Fred Graham (Essex)

Our verdict: Cheltenham 1 Burton 0 - The Robins can win this battle of two sides from last season's play-offs.

Exeter v Bristol Rovers

Exeter boss Paul Tisdale has a fully-fit squad to pick from.

Tisdale could hand Swedish defender Doug Bergqvist, a summer signing from Aldershot, his first start for the club.

Bristol Rovers manager John Ward is confident striker Matt Harrold will be fit, while midfielder John-Joe O'Toole could be in line for a full debut.

Garry Kenneth, Fabian Broghammer, Seanan Clucas, Jim Paterson and Danny Woodards remain sidelined, while long-term injury concern Matt Gill is rated as doubtful.

Last season: Bristol Rovers 2 Exeter 0, Exeter 1 Bristol Rovers 2 Last five league matches: Exeter L L D L L; Bristol Rovers W L D L D

Referee: Mark Heywood (Cheshire)

Our verdict: Exeter 0 Bristol Rovers 0 - Don't expect goals in Devon.

Fleetwood v Dagenham

Fleetwood have a clean bill of health.

The Cod Army have made some impressive moves in the summer transfer window with the acquisitions of new club captain MarkRoberts, Ryan Cresswell and Steven Schumacher - the latter came in to pre-season on the back of a hernia operation but has trained fully.

A trio of new faces could make their Dagenham debuts.

Teenage striker Afolabi Obafemi is also likely to lead the line alongside former Arsenal trainee Rhys Murphy.

Last season: Fleetwood Town 2 Dag & Red 1, Dag & Red 1 Fleetwood Town 0 Last five league matches: Fleetwood Town D L L L L; Dag & Red L W L L L Referee: Seb Stockbridge (Tyne & Wear)

Our verdict: Fleetwood 1 Dagenham 1 - The hosts will have to settle for a point in this contest.

Newport v Accrington

Newport manager Justin Edinburgh has a selection dilemma ahead of Saturday's clash.

Midfielders Adam Chapman, Robbie Willmott, Max Porter, Mike Flynn and Lee Minshull are all vying for a place.

Accrington could hand as many as eight debuts to their new players.

Defenders Nicky Hunt and Rob Atkinson are set to start at the back while midfielders Rob Atkinson, Josh Windass, Piero Mingoia and Michael Richardson are all vying for places in the middle.

Last season: No Corresponding fixture Last five league matches: Newport County W W W D L; Accrington Stanley D D W W L

Referee: Darren Drysdale (Lincolnshire)

Our verdict: Newport 1 Accrington 2 - The hosts will be frustrated in their first taste of League 2 after promotion.

Portsmouth v Oxford

Portsmouth could start life in the bottom tier of English football with as many as 11 new faces.

Boss Guy Whittingham has brought in a host of players including Monaco's Romain Padovani and Hull duo Danny East and Sonny Bradley.

Oxford boss Chris Wilder could hand veteran striker Dave Kitson, while Jonathan Meades, David Hunt and Tom Newey are also pushing for inclusion.

Midfielders Danny Rose and Asa Hall could also make their debuts.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

Last five league matches: Portsmouth W D L W L; Oxford Utd L L W W W

Referee: Gavin Ward (Surrey)

Our verdict: Portsmouth 1 Oxford 1 - This high-profile clash will end with both sides getting a point.

Rochdale v Hartlepool

Rochdale manager Keith Hill has a fully-fit first-team squad to choose from.

Hill drafted in 10 new players to Spotland during the close season and has plenty of options for the game at Spotland.

Hartlepool manager Colin Cooper is expected to hand his only summer signing Jack Compton his debut.

Winger Compton teamed back up with Cooper following his release from Colchester and is likely to be handed a starting role.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

Last five league matches: Rochdale W W D L W; Hartlepool L W W D D Referee: Michael Bull (Essex)

Our verdict: Rochdale 3 Hartlepool 1 - Dale are in much better shape to start the season in style.

Scunthorpe v Mansfield

Summer signing Andy Dawson is expected to make his second debut for Scunthorpe.

Etienne Esajas is manager Brian Laws' only absentee and all nine of his other new signings are hoping to play some part.

Martin Riley is expected to be fit and give Mansfield manager Paul Cox a full squad to choose from.

Summer signing Riley has been nursing a dead leg but the defender should fully recover in time.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

Last five league matches: Scunthorpe L D L W W; Mansfield W W L W W Referee: Eddie Ilderton (Tyne & Wear)

Our verdict: Scunthorpe 1 Mansfield 1 - The Stags can return to League 1 with a point.Southend v Plymouth

Southend boss Phil Brown could hand debuts to all four of his summer signings.

Former Aldershot man Craig Reid could start in attack after agreeing a one-year deal with the club on Thursday.

Plymouth boss John Sheridan will be without suspended defender Maxime Blanchard for the trip.

Sheridan has a wealth of forwards to choose from, with new boys Lewis Alessandra, Marvin Morgan and Reuben Reid all in contention to face the Shrimpers.

Last season: Southend 0 Plymouth 2, Plymouth 1 Southend 1 Last five league matches: Southend L D W L L; Plymouth W L W L L

Referee: Rob Lewis (Shropshire)

Our verdict: Southend 1 Plymouth 2 - The away side are the call in this one.

Torquay v AFC Wimbledon

Karl Hawley and Callum Ball could make their Torquay debuts.

The strike duo joined the Gulls on Thursday and are both likely to play some part at the weekend.

AFC Wimbledon manager Neal Ardley takes his side knowing he could hand up to 10 players their debuts.

Saturday's game is likely to come too soon for trialist Rhys Weston, who is yet to agree a deal following talks with Ardley.

Last season: Torquay 2 AFC Wimbledon 3, AFC Wimbledon 0 Torquay 1 Last five league matches: Torquay L L W W D; AFC Wimbledon L L D D W Referee: Tim Robinson (West Sussex)

Our verdict: Torquay 1 AFC Wimbledon 1 - Nothing to pick between the sides.

Wycombe v Morecambe

Wycombe boss Gareth Ainsworth has plenty of attacking options.

New signings Paris Cowan-Hall, Jon-Paul Pittman and Steven Craig are all vying for a starting berth in the Chairboys' attack.

Morecambe hope Padraig Amond's signing will be ratified in time. The Shrimps announced on Thursday that they had reached terms on a two-year deal with the ex-Accrington forward.

Defender Chris McCready should feature, though, despite only recently making his comeback from ankle surgery.

Last season: Morecambe 0 Wycombe 1, Wycombe 2 Morecambe 2 Last five league matches: Wycombe L W D L D; Morecambe L W L L W

Referee: Graham Horwood (Bedfordshire)

Our verdict: Wycombe 1 Morecambe 2 - The Shrimps can again make a quick start to a season.

York v Northampton

Estonia international Sander Puri, Ryan Jarvis and Ryan Bowman are among York's new signings who could make their debuts.

Richard Cresswell, another permanent signing following his loan spell from Sheffield United last season, is expected to be in the starting line-up.

Northampton boss Aidy Boothroyd could hand debuts to as many as eight new players.

The Cobblers will be without skipper Kelvin Langmead for up to three months after suffering a knee injury in pre-season.

Last season: Northampton 0 York 2, York 1 Northampton 1 Last five league matches: York W D W W W; Northampton L L D D W

Referee: Charles Breakspear (Surrey)

Our verdict: York 0 Northampton 0 - The Cobblers can get under way with a point on the road.


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