An in-demand striker, a young star and a long away trip - meet the promoted sides who will face Town next season
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While the League One play-offs and Championship season are still ongoing, Ipswich Town do at least know who’ll be joining them from below in the 2020/21 campaign. Mark Heath takes a look at the teams coming up from League Two...
Champions: Swindon Town
Away trip distance (round-trip): 370 miles
Top scorer: Eoin Doyle (26 goals)
Swindon were actually second when football was suspended in March, but won the title on points-per-game by virtue of having played one match less than Crewe.
The big question for the side managed by former Town loanee Richie Wellens is whether or not they could hang on to the league’s leading scorer Doyle, and sadly for the Robins, the answer appears to be no.
Doyle, 32, turned down a new contract offered in the wake of promotion, and looks set instead to remain in League Two and sign for freshly-relegated Bolton Wanderers.
Wellens’ men have also lost their second and third leading scorers - loanee Jerry Yates, who bagged 14, has returned to parent club Rotherham, while Keshi Anderson, who scored six, has departed for Blackpool.
So the summer task for Wellens is clear - sign the strikers who can replace the 46 goals they’ve lost!
Runner-up: Crewe Alexandra
Away trip distance: 408 miles
Top scorer: Chris Porter (14)
It’s the opposite story at Crewe, who were denied the league title by Swindon on the aforementioned PPG.
While Swindon appear to have lost their top scorer, the Alex have secured leading striker Porter for at least another year, with the veteran hitman signing an initial one-year deal.
Porter, 36, has bags of experience to take into the third tier next season, having played for the likes of Derby, Sheffield United and Colchester over a 17-year career so far.
Crewe have already started strengthening for the challenge ahead too, bringing in Accrington striker Offrande Zanzala, who scored eight goals in 28 games last season.
And star man Charlie Kirk, who scored nine goals and handed out 15 assists last season, has also signed a new two-year contract. The Alex may have missed out on the title, but they appear to be in a good place heading into League One next season.
Third: Plymouth Argyle
Away trip distance: 610 miles
Top scorer: Antoni Sarcevic (11)
The third side to claim automatic promotion, the Pilgrims were just a point behind both Swindon and Crewe when the season was ended.
And, while Town fans – and our Town reporting team – may groan at the prospect of the massive round-trip to Home Park, Plymouth are certainly relishing the task ahead.
They’ve re-signed many of their key players from the promotion push, including captain Gary Sawyer, centre-backs Niall Canavan and Scott Wootton, and midfielder Conor Grant.
The club have also triggered an extension on the contract of one-time Town target Danny Mayor after the midfielder, who chose Plymouth over Portman Road last summer, was a key part of their success.
However, top scorer and player of the year Sarcevic – dubbed the ‘Manchester Messi’ by fans – dealt the club a huge blow when he turned down a new contract last month. He appears set to sign for Salford City, an opportunity for the midfielder to return to his native north-west.
Play-off winners: Northampton Town
Away trip distance: 216 miles
Top scorer: Sam Hoskins (11)
The Cobblers won promotion through the play-offs as impressively as a side could do it - first turning around a two-goal deficit to stun Cheltenham 3-0 away in the second leg of their semi-final, before trouncing Exeter 4-0 at Wembley.
When they face Town next season it will be the first time the sides have clashed in the league since a League Two meeting in April 1967, and also gives skipper Luke Chambers a chance to play against one of his former clubs.
There won’t, however, be a reunion with the Blues for ex-Town star Paul Anderson – he of play-off strike against Norwich fame – after he was one of 13 players released by the Cobblers last week, along with starting centre-back John Turnbull. Top scorer Hoskins has been offered a new deal though.
But it looks as though there are testing times ahead for Northampton, with boss Keith Curle warning: “This is a difficult summer with the impact of Covid-19 on the industry and we have been very transparent about that from the very start with the players.”
They will start as one of the favourites for the drop back to League Two.