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Vital Lincoln City – League One Season Preview 2022-23 (Part One)

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The first part of our League One Season Preview focuses on Accrington Stanley, Barnsley, Bolton Wanderers, Bristol Rovers, Burton Albion, Cambridge United, Charlton Athletic, Cheltenham Town, Derby County, Exeter City, Fleetwood Town, and Forest Green Rovers.

The article has been published with two pages (6 clubs on each page). To get to the second page, press “NEXT” at the bottom right of the page, or CLICK HERE!


The information in this preview is complete to 5pm on Wednesday 27 July 2022.

Managerial data is as accurate as possible. Online statistics databases have not been used due to the errors they can contain. As the figures are self-compiled, any errors, therefore, are my fault entirely. Firstly, sincere apologies to the subjects; secondly, any errors should be minor and not affect the overall impression; thirdly, it will be more accurate than Wikipedia. Given the increase in the number of coaches from development football, managerial data is drawn from senior football only.

An average points per game figure is given for each manager. To translate that into something more tangible, the table below shows how many points that figure equates to over the course of a 46-game season. Although other factors obviously come into play, it gives an indication of how likely that manager is to be involved in a relegation struggle (under 1.20 PPG), a play-off challenge (above 1.50 PPG needed) or an automatic promotion challenge (above 1.70 PPG needed).

As for the player sections, all permanent transfers in and out are included, as are longer-term loans in. All shorter-term loans in and out and season-long loans out are not included; that is because a player’s departure on loan is unlikely to have any bearing on the performance of his parent club, while short-term loans tend to have minimal impact. Players given their first professional contracts from academy status are not included as new signings. Remember that the transfer window does not close until 1 September, four weeks after the season begins: later signings may be significant.

There is usually a caveat with these Season Previews, and this year it is a very simple one: I have not had the time to complete it to the usual standard, so apologies if there are errors and omissions.

Due to some clubs insisting on operating separate U23 squads, departures from these squads are also listed to enable a fair comparison with those who run one squad only.

Player ages are as of 1 August 2022.

Finally, bookmakers’ odds are for promotion.

Scotimp, 27/7/2022


Last season: 12th
P46 W17 D10 L19 F61 A80 Pts61

Chairman/owner: Andy Holt, 57 (appointed October 2015)

Manager: John Coleman, 59 (appointed September 2014)

John Coleman’s managerial record:

League games only – play-offs and cup games not included.

Players out (9):

Goalkeepers (0):

Defenders (2):
Stephen Sama, 29
Ross Sykes, 23 (Union SG – Belgium)

Midfielders (4):
John O’Sullivan, 28 (Bohemian)
Matt Butcher, 25 (Plymouth Argyle)
Ben Pleavin, 19
Luke Stowe, 19

Forwards (3):
Colby Bishop, 25 (Portsmouth)
Lewis Mansell, 24
Kevin Spinelli, 19

Players in (6):

Goalkeepers (1):
Lukas Jensen, 23 (season loan from Burnley)

Defenders (1):
Ryan Astley, 20 (season loan from Everton)

Midfielders (1):
Mo Sangare, 23 (Newcastle United)

Forwards (3):
Shaun Whalley, 34 (Shrewsbury Town)
Matt Lowe, 26 (Brackley Town)
Alhagi Touray Sisay, 22 (Haverfordwest County)

Average age of players out: 23
Average age of players in: 24

Player of the Season 2021-22: Michael Nottingham, 33 (centre-half)

One to watch: Sean McConville, 33 (midfield)

Season ticket sales: 1,000

Ground capacity: 5,450

Visiting supporter capacity: 2,300 (1,800 standing, 500 seated)

P7 W3 D2 L2 F6 A5
2/7 Crystal Palace A 1-1 Lowe
9/7 BLACKBURN ROVERS (match 1) H 1-0 Lowe
9/7 BLACKBURN ROVERS (match 2) H 0-2
13/7 STOKE CITY H 2-0 McConville 2
23/7 SUNDERLAND H 2-1 McConville (pen), Adedoyin


“22 seasons makes me feel old but when I stop enjoying it, I won’t hang around and I am still loving it at the moment.” – Accrington Stanley manager John Coleman

In these days of impatience and disloyalty, John Coleman’s continued presence in the Accrington hotseat represents a beacon of security and achievement. He was away from the club between 2012 and 2014, of course, but to have managed the same club for a total of 21 seasons goes directly against the grain with almost every other club chairman. His ambition is to take Stanley to the Championship, and he is probably the only manager in football who will be given all the time he needs to achieve it.

Although small by League One standards, the growth of the club continues in outstanding fashion. Last season saw the highest average attendance in the club’s history at 2,915, and redevelopment at the Wham Stadium has created some much-needed new facilities. For his part, chairman and owner Andy Holt continues to campaign for the rights of smaller clubs, resigning from the EFL’s problematic iFollow platform at the start of July due to inequitable distribution of funds.

Coleman’s immediate priority is to strengthen in defence: his side conceded an astonishing 80 league goals last season in finishing 12th, with only four teams in League One conceding more. The loss of Colby Bishop and Matt Butcher will surely impact on his side’s ability to score goals and may even weaken them defensively. Both players will be hard to replace, as will defender Ross Sykes.

Perhaps Stanley’s best signing of the summer was a contract extension for Sean McConville. Despite advancing years, the 33-year-old continues to be one of the best midfielders in the division, and it will be interesting to see how he performs alongside the equally experienced Shaun Whalley from Shrewsbury. As ever, Coleman has supplemented his squad with some astute loans and signings from the non-league ranks.

Whether John Coleman can take Accrington to the Championship in his 22nd season remains to be seen, but it would constitute a football miracle. One thing is almost guaranteed, and perhaps this is really the measure of his achievement: with Coleman at the helm, Stanley will never be relegated.

At the bookies (Sky Bet): 28/1


Last season: 24th in the Championship (relegated)
P46 W6 D12 L28 F33 A73 Pts30

Owner: BFC Investment Company Limited

Chairman: Neerav Parekh, 35 (appointed May 2022)

Head Coach: Michael Duff, 44 (appointed June 2022)

Michael Duff’s managerial record:

League games only – play-offs and cup games not included.

Players out (12):

Goalkeepers (1):
Daniel Jinadu, 20

Defenders (2):
Callum Brittain, 24 (Blackburn Rovers)
Aapo Halme, 24

Midfielders (4):
Isaac Christie-Davies, 24 (K.A.S. Eupen – Belgium)
Romal Palmer, 23 (Göztepe SK – Turkey)
Tomas Kalinauskas, 22
Connor Hodgson, 19 (Ossett United)

Forwards (5):
Cauley Woodrow, 27 (Luton Town)
Carlton Morris, 26 (Luton Town)
Victor Adeboyejo, 24 (Burton Albion)
Patrick Schmidt, 24 (Admira Wacker – Austria)
George Miller, 23 (Doncaster Rovers)

Players in (6):

Goalkeepers (1):
Jamie Searle, 21 (Swansea City)

Defenders (2):
Robbie Cundy, 25 (Bristol City)
Conor McCarthy, 24 (St Mirren)

Midfielders (2):
Nicky Cadden, 25 (Forest Green Rovers)
Luca Connell, 21 (Glasgow Celtic)

Forwards (1):
James Norwood, 31 (Ipswich Town)

Average age of players out: 23
Average age of players in: 24

Player of the Season 2021-22: Brad Collins, 25 (goalkeeper)

One to watch: Michał Helik, 26 (centre-half)

Season ticket sales: 6,500

Ground capacity: 23,287

Visiting supporter capacity: 2,000 (can be increased to 4,700)

P6 W3 D3 L0 F8 A4
25/6 Worksop Town A 3-1 Cole, Leya Iseka, Brittain
1/7 Walsall A 1-0 Cole
20/7 Harrogate Town A 2-2 Marsh, Moon
23/7 SHEFFIELD UNITED H 2-1 Aitchison, Benson


“As a board, we will live by our Latin motto – spectemur agendo – let us be judged by our acts.” – Barnsley chairman Neerav Parekh

Changes in the boardroom, a change of head coach and significant turnover on the playing side provide the backdrop to Barnsley’s latest adventure in League One. Their previous two relegations to the third tier resulted in two-year and one-year stays respectively, but Barnsley fans are not expecting an immediate return to the Championship this time. A couple of seasons in the third tier may be required to rebuild and compete for promotion, especially considering the presence of six other former Premier League clubs in the division.

As for last season, relegation only twelve months after appearing in the Championship play-offs was certainly unexpected. In direct contrast to the likes of Derby and neighbours Sheffield Wednesday, Barnsley do not have significant financial baggage and a history of misfeasance to carry into League One with them. The club lost £4.26m in the Covid season of 2020-21, taking the club marginally into the red, yet notes of caution have already been sounded with regards to expectations.

Chairman Neerav Parekh confirmed in June that players would need to be sold to cover the funding shortfall caused by relegation, and there have been significant departures. Captain and main striker Cauley Woodrow departed for Luton, to be joined shortly afterwards by teammate Carlton Morris. Talented full-back Callum Brittain also opted to remain the Championship with Blackburn. Departing players scattered across England, Turkey, Austria and Belgium, indicating the quality that was leaving Oakwell. The most significant arrival is undoubtedly new head coach Michael Duff, who joins after making his name with Cheltenham. Although he has just the one season in League One management, Duff played in all five top divisions in English football and made 342 appearances for Burnley in the top two divisions. The lack of goals scored last season (33) is surely one of Duff’s main concerns ahead of the new season, and the signing of James Norwood from Ipswich may go some way to solving that problem.

Duff will surely add more faces to his squad before the window closes. Whether he can repeat the same journey up the leagues as a manager as he did a player remains to be seen, but an unbeaten pre-season campaign is reason for optimism.

At the bookies (Sky Bet): 7/2


Last season: 9th
P46 W21 D10 L15 F74 A57 Pts73

Owner: Football Ventures (Whites) Limited

Chairman: Sharon Brittan, 55 (appointed August 2019)

Manager: Ian Evatt, 40 (appointed July 2020)

Ian Evatt’s managerial record:

League games only – play-offs and cup games not included.

Players out (9):

Goalkeepers (1):
Matty Alexander, 20

Defenders (4):
Alex Baptiste, 36
Liam Edwards, 25 (Chester)
Reiss Greenidge, 25
Liam Gordon, 23 (Walsall)

Midfielders (2):
Andrew Tutte, 31 (Bolton Wanderers B as player-coach)
Ronan Darcy, 21 (Swindon Town)

Forwards (2):
Nathan Delfouneso, 31
Jay Fitzmartin, 19

Players in (4):

Goalkeepers (1):
James Trafford, 19 (season loan from Manchester City)

Defenders (3):
Jack Iredale, 26 (Cambridge United)
Eoin Toal, 23 (Derry City)
Conor Bradley, 19 (season loan from Liverpool)

Midfielders (0):

Forwards (0):

Average age of players out: 26
Average age of players in: 22

Player of the Season 2021-22: Dapo Afolayan, 24 (striker)

One to watch: Jón Daði Böðvarsson, 30 (striker)

Season ticket sales: 12,900

Ground capacity: 28,723

Visiting supporter capacity: 3,000 (can be increased to 5,000)

P7 W3 D2 L2 F18 A8
28/6 Longridge Town A 9-0 Charles 3, Dempsey, Kachunga, Bakayoko, Johnston, Böðvarsson, Afolayan
2/7 Chorley A 3-1 Charles, Böðvarsson, Kachunga
5/7 Stockport County A 2-2 Kachunga, Bradley
12/7 Watford A 2-0 Lee, Afolayan
16/7 Carlisle United A 1-3 Morley (pen)
23/7 HUDDERSFIELD TOWN H 1-1 Sadlier


“Football is a business and we are in the business of winning football matches, especially at a club like this. We’ve got huge expectations – from within more than anything else. We have to make sure that every day we perform to those expectations.” – Bolton Wanderers manager Ian Evatt

Given Bolton’s poor financial history, a set of accounts from this club is always an interesting event. Their 2020-21 accounts were published this month and announced a reduction in annual losses (from £3.85m to £1.46m). However, the accounts still make tough reading despite several million pounds’ worth of loans being written off and a £900,000 contribution from the furlough scheme. Over £12m in loans were converted to shares, yet the amount due to creditors remained at over £31m at the end of June 2021.

The £5m loan from the Government’s UK Future Funds Nominees Limited fund is shown in these accounts as an amount due to creditors, but the loan was controversially converted to shares in January 2022. In addition to providing the club with an incredible £5m cash windfall, that effectively means that the club is now partly owned by the taxpayer, at least until it is sold at some point in the future. It is difficult to see how the public can achieve any return on its investment in Bolton Wanderers in the interim, casting an unsatisfactory shadow over the whole exercise.

One point of interest this season is the creation of a B team to play in the Central League, the intention being to provide a stepping-stone from academy to first team. Whether that will significantly change the club’s financial strategy is an unknown quantity, although the project may produce results in time. Summer transfer activity has been decidedly muted to date, although Bolton were very active in January and made some significant signings then. Departures largely consist of youngsters and fringe players, leaving the squad with a more streamlined look. Jack Iredale from Cambridge is the standout signing, while goalkeeper James Trafford returns from Manchester City for a second loan spell.

Bolton experienced a mixed pre-season, the high point being a win at Championship side Watford. The club is starting to recover from its brush with oblivion and is already eyeing a return to the Championship. Some of last season’s results suggest they may not be far away this time around, and it will be interesting to see whether last season’s January signing spree is repeated this season.

At the bookies (Sky Bet): 10/3 (sixth)


Last season: 3rd in League Two (promoted)
P46 W23 D11 L12 F71 A49 Pts80

President/owner: Wael Al-Qadi, 52 (appointed February 2015)

Manager: Joey Barton, 39 (appointed February 2021)

Joey Barton’s managerial record:

League games only – play-offs and cup games not included.

Players out (14):

Goalkeepers (0):

Defenders (3):
Junior Brown, 33
Cian Harries, 25 (Swindon Town)
Pablo Martinez, 21 (Chippenham Town)

Midfielders (7):
Glenn Whelan, 38
Jon Nolan, 30 (Tranmere Rovers)
Sam Nicholson, 27 (Colorado Rapids – USA)
Cameron Hargreaves, 23 (King’s Lynn Town)
Ben Liddle, 23
Tom Mehew, 21 (Chippenham Town)
Lucas Tomlinson, 21

Forwards (4):
Leon Clarke, 37
Brett Pitman, 34 (AFC Portchester)
Ollie Hulbert, 19 (Yeovil Town)
Kieran Phillips, 19

Players in (4):

Goalkeepers (0):

Defenders (2):
James Gibbons, 24 (Port Vale)
James Connolly, 20 (Cardiff City)

Midfielders (1):
Jordan Rossiter, 25 (Fleetwood Town)

Forwards (1):
John Marquis, 30 (Lincoln City)

Average age of players out: 26
Average age of players in: 25

Player of the Season 2021-22: James Belshaw, 31 (goalkeeper)

One to watch: Harry Anderson, 25 (winger)

Season ticket sales: 5,217 SOLD OUT

Ground capacity: 9,870

Visiting supporter capacity: 1,300 (1,100 standing, 200 seated)

P6 W3 D0 L3 F15 A11
1/7 Melksham Town A 6-1 Collins, Lawrence (pen), Greenslade, Gibbons, Jones, Saunders
9/7 FC Porto N 0-3 (in Portugal)
12/7 Bath City A 1-3 Loft
12/7 Chippenham Town A 4-1 Marquis 2, Saunders 2
16/7 Swansea City A 2-3 Collins (pen), Loft
19/7 STOKE CITY H 2-0 Saunders, OG


“I am extremely pleased Joe has decided to continue to lead the club forward. I am really excited to see him building this squad of talented and committed players. I wish him all the very best and this new deal hopefully shows him just how important he is to my vision for Bristol Rovers Football Club.” – Bristol Rovers owner Wael Al-Qadi

In one of the most remarkable final day results of all time, Bristol Rovers’ 7-0 win over relegated Scunthorpe snatched automatic promotion from unlucky Northampton on goals scored. It looked unlikely at the midway stage of the season, sitting fifteenth as manager Joey Barton’s side struggled after relegation in May. Calls were made for the manager’s head, but Rovers collected an impressive 50 points from their final 23 games, the best in League Two. Promotion was achieved and Barton has signed a new contract to 2026, no mean achievement for a manager who tendered his resignation last September after that poor start.

Momentum in football is a wonderful thing, and Barton must have been tempted to retain his promotion-winning squad. However, there have been fourteen departures but curiously only four arrivals to date: expect more before the window closes. The most notable signing is that of experienced striker John Marquis after an anonymous spell at Lincoln, and former Liverpool and Rangers midfielder Jordan Rossiter has good League One experience from Fleetwood.

Off the field, season tickets have sold out – Rovers are hamstrung by a small capacity and unfavourable ground configuration in a similar way to Lincoln – and are seeking small solutions in the same way. Plans for a new stadium are proceeding slowly, the latest proposals involving a site at Bristol Fruit Market. The new training ground, opened in October 2020, is already undergoing expansion. One shadow on the horizon is the impending trial of manager Barton for allegedly assaulting his wife, scheduled for the end of October.

At the bookies (Sky Bet): 28/1


Last season: 16th
P46 W14 D11 L21 F51 A67 Pts53

Chairman/owner: Ben Robinson MBE, 76 (appointed June 1995)

Manager: Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, 50 (appointed January 2021)

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s managerial record:

League games only – play-offs and cup games not included.

Players out (7):

Goalkeepers (0):

Defenders (3):
Michael Bostwick, 34 (Stevenage)
Ryan Leak, 24 (Salford City)
Luke Redfern, 19

Midfielders (2):
Danny Rowe, 30
Bryn Morris, 26 (Grimsby Town)

Forwards (2):
Oumar Niasse, 32
Aaron Amadi-Holloway, 29

Players in (6):

Goalkeepers (1):
Viljami Sinisalo, 20 (season loan from Aston Villa)

Defenders (0):

Midfielders (4):
Calum Butcher, 31 (Dundee United)
Davis Keillor-Dunn, 24 (Oldham Athletic)
Quevin Castro, 20 (season loan from West Bromwich Albion)
Tyler Onyango, 19 (season loan from Everton)

Forwards (1):
Victor Adeboyejo, 24 (Barnsley)

Average age of players out: 28
Average age of players in: 23

Player of the Season 2021-22: John Brayford, 34 (defender)

One to watch: Sam Hughes, 25 (centre-half)

Season ticket sales: Not disclosed

Ground capacity: 6,912

Visiting supporter capacity: 1,800 (1,400 standing, 400 seated)

P6 W1 D0 L5 F6 A13
1/7 Hibernian N 2-4 Ahadme, Gilligan (at Amendoeira, Portugal)
5/7 Stratford Town A 2-1 Keillor-Dunn, Moult
16/7 BIRMINGHAM CITY H 1-2 Hamer
19/7 Brackley Town A 1-2 Moult


“We have tried to get some players in, and they have ended up going to other clubs. It has been difficult, but we have to be patient and make the right decisions. We don’t want quantity, we want quality.” – Burton Albion manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink

Speaking after the pre-season defeat at home to Birmingham, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink summed up the problems faced by smaller clubs in competing for players in League One. His reference to quality over quantity signals a change in philosophy, as Burton had the largest squad in the division a year ago. Another problem was an ageing squad, which has been addressed again with the release of some senior players. Meanwhile, Hasselbaink apparently rejected an approach from Barnsley in June amid rumours of a Zoom interview not being honoured; Barnsley had moved on, and Hasselbaink remains at the Pirelli.

Although last season’s lower half finish was a disappointment to some, Burton’s continued presence in football’s third tier is surely the opposite. The Brewers would be firmly in League Two’s bottom six if attendances were the determining factor for all English clubs, and the accounts for 2019-20 (the last full season prior to Covid) show gate receipts of just £837,000. The club relies on legendary chairman and owner Ben Robinson to keep the club afloat as he always has, although quite what happens when he eventually calls it a day is an unknown quantity.

Close season departures included Lincoln promotion-winners Danny Rowe and Michael Bostwick while former Senegal international striker Oumar Niasse was released after a four-month stay. Pick of the signings is former Brewer Calum Butcher who returns to the club after a three-year stint with Dundee United. Striker Victor Adeboyejo won promotion from League One with Barnsley in 2019, and the squad is completed by three young loanees from higher levels. The players underwent warm-weather training in Portugal but followed up with a disappointing pre-season schedule consisting of one solitary win over minnows Stratford Town and five defeats.

At the bookies (Sky Bet): 28/1


Last season: 14th
P46 W15 D13 L18 F56 A74 Pts58

Chairman: Shaun Grady, 61 (appointed December 2017)

Head Coach: Mark Bonner, 36 (appointed March 2020)

Mark Bonner’s managerial record:

League games only – play-offs and cup games not included.

Players out (4):

Goalkeepers (1):
Kai McKenzie-Lyle, 24

Defenders (2):
Jack Iredale, 26 (Bolton Wanderers)
Tom Dickens, 19

Midfielders (1):
Wes Hoolahan, 40

Forwards (0):

Players in (4):

Goalkeepers (1):
James Holden, 20 (Reading)

Defenders (2):
Brandon Haunstrup, 25 (Kilmarnock)
Zeno Ibsen Rossi, 21 (AFC Bournemouth)

Midfielders (0):

Forwards (1):
Saikou Janneh, 22 (Bristol City)

Average age of players out: 27
Average age of players in: 22

Player of the Season 2021-22: Dimitar Mitov, 25 (goalkeeper)

One to watch: Sam Smith, 24 (striker)

Season ticket sales: 2,500

Ground capacity: 8,127

Visiting supporter capacity: up to 1,600

P6 W2 D0 L4 F11 A12
2/7 Watford A 3-1 Ironside 2, Knibbs
9/7 Cardiff City N 2-3 Knibbs, Janneh (at Cardiff ISS)
16/7 Notts County (game 1) N 2-0 Smith 2 (at St Neots Town FC)
16/7 Notts County (game 2) N 2-3 Knibbs 2 (at St Neots Town FC)
19/7 NORWICH CITY H 1-3 Smith
23/7 HULL CITY H 1-2 Smith


“When we got off to a flyer this year, we were always the team that was going to be in trouble, and now next season is going to be the difficult second season where everything’s going to come crashing down. The story doesn’t change, but we have to try and make sure that the outcome and what we’re doing remains the same as well. We’re really pleased with where we’re at, and quite optimistic that we can keep getting better.” – Cambridge United manager Mark Bonner

The biggest challenge facing Cambridge during the summer was to hang on to manager Mark Bonner, who was linked with a host of clubs after two exceptional seasons. Cambridge were just six points from League Two’s relegation zone when he took over in January 2020, and the season was abandoned shortly afterwards. Not many dared to forecast promotion in 2020-21, but their place in League One was secured with a final day win over relegated Grimsby. Mid-table security was achieved in the U’s first season back in the third tier, and Bonner now faces the challenge of building on the club’s highest league position for 28 years and the highest average attendance for 30 years.

Summer transfer activity to date seems to support Bonner’s assertion that he is happy with where the club is, with only four departures and four arrivals. The most significant loss is that of left-back Jack Iredale, who joined Bolton after rejecting a new contract offer. Another loss will be Wes Hoolahan, named by Bonner as the best player to appear for Cambridge in the last thirty years, who has decided to retire after being released at the age of 40. Brandon Haunstrup arrives from Kilmarnock as a direct replacement for Iredale while new striker Saikou Janneh gained experience of League One last season while on loan at Shrewsbury.

And now Cambridge enter what Bonner laconically refers to as ‘the difficult second season’. The bookmakers appear not to agree with his optimism, with only Exeter, Fleetwood and Morecambe tipped to finish below them. Cambridge have defied the bookies for the last two seasons and there is no obvious reason why they cannot make it a hat-trick. In other news, Mark Bonner achieved his Pro Licence during the summer alongside the Cowleys.

At the bookies (Sky Bet): 33/1

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