Comment: Pompey’s promotion rivals - part one

Former Accrington man Tom Davies, left, will be playing for Pompey this season  not against them   Picture: Joe Pepler

Former Accrington man Tom Davies, left, will be playing for Pompey this season  not against them Picture: Joe Pepler

Carl Baker and Christian Burgess celebrate Pompey's League Two title success. Picture:Joe Pepler

Pompey fixtures out tomorrow

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It’s now just under a month until the 2016-17 season begins.

And squads all across League Two are taking shape.

Despite the promotion of heavyweights Oxford and Bristol Rovers, the fourth division is looking to be as strong as last year.

Today I take a look at a couple of potential promotion rivals for Pompey this season – it’s a process I will continue in the coming weeks.

Accrington Stanley

John Coleman’s side cruelly missed out on automatic promotion last time round – and arguably should have been promoted.

But a goal scored on the stroke of half-time was disallowed by the referee’s interval whistle.

Had that goal stood, Accrington would have beaten AFC Wimbledon 1-0 and eventually gained enough points to go up.

Who knows how many years that non-goal will haunt Accy fans?

But in the short term their heroic squad has unsurprisingly broken up.

Josh Windass and Matt Crooks both left for Rangers, Piero Mingoia opted to join Cambridge, goalkeeper Ross Etheridge signed for Doncaster and, of course, Tom Davies was snapped up by Pompey.

The overriding question Accrington will face in the coming months is will their new signings fill the gaps left by the leavers.

Like those before, Stanley’s summer signings are rather unspectacular but Coleman has proven himself to develop players quite rapidly and I expect Accrington could be on course for another outstanding season.

In Shay McCartan and Billy Kee, Accy already have two goalscorers in their ranks and I anticipate Kee, especially, to continue his rich vein of form.

I predict Accrington will have another superb campaign, I firmly believe they are a club on the up and are not just a flash in the pan.

Can they emulate the success of fellow minnows Burton Albion?

Highly unlikely but I do not doubt they will rival Pompey for automatic promotion this coming season.

Cambridge United

Cambridge have made significant strides under the management of former Pompey player Shaun Derry.

Since he took the reins from Richard Money early last season, United climbed 10 places in the League Two table – an impressive feat considering they were not his players.

Cambridge have a solid spine to their team, with keeper Will Norris, Leon Legge, Luke Berry and Barry Corr.

A core most League Two sides would rightly envy and if they can stay fit they could spark a promotion charge for Cambridge.

The signing of Medy Elito is an impressive one.

The former Dagenham & Redbridge winger caused havoc for Newport County against Pompey last season and will add a lot of energy to Derry’s side.

Strength in depth will be crucial to any side vying for promotion, the key question for the U’s is do they have it?

Derry is very savvy in the loan market and, in my opinion, this will play a big part in the success of Cambridge’s upcoming campaign.

They just missed out on the play-offs last term but will surely achieve a top-seven spot this time round.

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