Teenage Kicks: Pompey’s promotion rivals

Peter Hartley scores for Plymouth in last season's League Two play-off semi-final second leg. Picture: Joe Pepler
Peter Hartley scores for Plymouth in last season's League Two play-off semi-final second leg. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Hi fellow Pompey fans, my name is Ben Sturt.

I’m 17 years old and I’ve been a season-ticket holder in the Fratton end for as long as I can remember.

I am also the youngest member of the Pompey Supporters’ Trust’s Next Generations group, which tackles all issues that may concern younger Pompey fans.

I hope you enjoy my weekly column in the Sports Mail, describing the goings on at our club through the eyes of a younger supporter.

Last week I started to look 
at Pompey’s most likely promotion rivals in League Two this season.

I picked out Accrington Stanley and Cambridge United as real threats to Paul Cook’s hopes of taking the Blues up.

Today I turn my attentions to two more teams I believe will be in the mix for a place in League One come next spring.

Luton Town

The Hatters are another so called 
big club at this level but so far have found it difficult to punch their weight.

There is undoubted talent in their squad but the difficulty last season was in getting it all to gel.

Nathan Jones has caught the eye since taking over and impressive recruitment has led people to believe Luton could have a successful campaign.

Christian Walton, Glen Rea, Alan Sheehan, Johnny Mullins and Danny Hylton have been snapped up by the Hatters.

Similar to Cambridge, Luton have culled their Conference squad somewhat – and focused on quality over quantity.

And it is a decision which could prompt success.

If they have a good start, I can see the Hatters sticking around in the upper echelons of the League Two table.

And that is something they have frustratingly been unable to do in the past two years.

The Luton fixtures could prove even bigger for Pompey this campaign.

Plymouth Argyle

I’ve still got a bitter taste in my 
mouth from the moment 
Pompey’s League One ambitions were dashed for another year by Peter Hartley.

However, my memories of that goal at Home Park and the subsequent pitch invasion are slightly easier to bear given the prematurity of the Green Army’s celebrations.

They fell flat at Wembley and will once again be a rival for Pompey in the fourth tier of English football.

Plymouth fans knew they would have a struggle keeping hold of their out-of-contract squad – and that’s proven the case.

Hartley and Curtis Nelson have opted to join promoted Bristol 
Rovers and Oxford United respectively.

Gregg Wylde signed for Millwall, while Tyler Harvey and Reuben Reid turned down new contracts.

On top of that, Carl McHugh joined Motherwell days after agreeing a new contract with the Pilgrims.

Derek Adams has got a job on his hands replacing those players.

The signing of David Goodwillie could go some way to helping redress the balance but it’s tough to see Argyle bettering last term’s feats.

Goodwillie has an impressive CV but goals have dried up for him in the last couple of years.

Only time will tell if the former Blackburn striker and Scotland international can rediscover his best form.

If he can, Plymouth could prove a force – especially if they can keep hold of Graham Carey.

Next week, I’ll look at more of Pompey’s promotion rivals.