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SEASON PREVIEW

26 July 2022

It's less than a week until we get underway at Plymouth Argyle, so we continue to take a look at our opponents for the forthcoming campaign.

Here are the next six teams in part three of our season preview...

IPSWICH TOWN
Last season: 11th (League One)
Manager: Kieran McKenna
Stadium: Portman Road (185 miles)

Another one of the big hitters at this level, Ipswich are about to embark on their fourth consecutive season in League One and will be hoping for better fortunes than their previous attempts to climb back up the pyramid.

They have finished 11th twice and ninth in the past three campaigns, with new Reds hitman James Norwood claiming their top scorer award on two of those occasions.

A familiar face amongst the ranks at Portman Road is Conor Chaplin, who spent two years in South Yorkshire, while former Barnsley loanee Sam Morsy is also plying his trade for the Tractor Boys.

In Kieran McKenna, the East Anglia outfit have a young manager with experience of working at the highest level, having spent time as José Mourinho’s assistant at Manchester United and as part of the first team coaching set-up at Old Trafford under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick.

You have to go back to 2010 for the last time we beat Ipswich – a 3-1 victory on our travels. We haven’t faced each other since the 17/18 campaign, with Town claiming three points in both meetings.

LINCOLN CITY
Last season: 17th (League One)
Head Coach: Mark Kennedy
Stadium: LNER Stadium (55 miles)

After toppling out of the Football League at the end of the 10/11 campaign, the Imps spent six years in the National League before securing promotion as champions under Danny Cowley.

They reached the League Two play-offs at the first attempt, losing out to Exeter City at the semi-final stage, before claiming the title the following season – returning to the third tier for the first time in two decades.

At the helm for City is Mark Kennedy, who has been there and done it as a player at the top level – playing in the Premier League for Liverpool, Wimbledon, Manchester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers. In fact, the former Republic of Ireland international never played outside of the top two divisions in England during a 20-year career.

Barnsley vs Lincoln used to be a regular fixture in the calendar up until the 80s, with 80 meetings between the sides in all competitions yielding 33 wins for the Reds.

Daniel Bogdanovic scored the only goal the last time we faced the Imps in a League Cup clash back in 2009.

MILTON KEYNES DONS
Last season: 3rd (League One)
Head Coach: Liam Manning
Stadium: Stadium MK (130 miles)

It was a productive campaign last time out for the Dons, who narrowly missed out on automatic promotion to the Championship by a point to Rotherham United – despite thumping Plymouth Argyle 5-0 at Home Park on the final day.

Successive defeats against Sheffield Wednesday and Oxford United in mid-April proved to be costly for the Bedfordshire outfit as they had to settle for a place in the play-offs – eventually being edged out by Wycombe Wanderers in the semi-finals.

Top scorer Scott Twine has since departed for Burnley after catching the eye with 20 goals from midfield, but Will Grigg has returned to Stadium MK on a permanent basis having had two loan spells earlier in his career.

Head Coach Liam Manning enjoyed a successful first season at the helm after arriving from Lommel SK, who are part of the City Football Group portfolio. Prior to his time in Belgium, he had coached in the academy set-ups at Ipswich Town, West Ham United and Manchester City before a stint in the MLS with New York City FC.

We last faced the Dons during the 14/15 campaign, losing twice, with an up and coming Deli Alli on the score sheet on both occasions.

MORECAMBE
Last season: 19th (League One)
Manager: Derek Adams
Stadium: Mazuma Stadium (110 miles)

As first seasons in the third tier of English Football go, you have to say that Morecambe’s 19th place finish last term can be marked down as a resounding success. Just two points separated them from the drop, but they won’t care – they’ve got another campaign of League One football ahead of them.

Their biggest concern will be defensively; the Shrimps conceded more goals than any team in the division (88) and kept just six clean sheets, but in Cole Stockton they have a striker who notched 26 goals in all competitions.

Home form could be crucial once again for Derek Adams’ side, who picked up more than two thirds of their points at the Mazuma Stadium – claiming impressive wins against Sheffield Wednesday and Wycombe Wanderers, too.

Scotsman Adams is in his second stint in Lancashire, having guided Morecambe to promotion from League Two via the play-offs in 2021 before leaving for Bradford City.

We have only faced the Shrimps twice in our history – both in the League Cup – losing 2-0 in August 2011 and winning 4-3 in August 2017.

OXFORD UNITED
Last season: 8th (League One)
Manager: Karl Robinson
Stadium: Kassam Stadium (155 miles)

It was a nearly campaign for the U’s, who occupied a play-off berth for much of the campaign before a run of one point from four games saw them slip out of the top six.

They had Herbie Kane amongst the ranks on a season-long loan from Oakwell and he contributed six assists in a productive spell with Oxford where he played almost 3,000 minutes of football.

Matty Taylor is the main dangerman for Karl Robinson’s side; the striker bagged 22 goals last term – the only time he has scored more than that in a campaign is his haul of 27 for Bristol Rovers in 16/17.

Robinson has previous at this level having led MK Dons to promotion back in 2015, and also guided United to the play-offs for two seasons running – losing in the 2020 final to Wycombe Wanderers and the 2021 semi-finals against Blackpool.

Our last meeting with the U’s was in January 2019 as we came from two goals down to draw 2-2 at the Kassam Stadium. The Reds put four past Oxford on the opening day of that campaign at Oakwell.

PETERBOROUGH UNITED
Last season: 22nd (Championship)
Manager: Grant McCann
Stadium: Weston Homes Stadium (100 miles)

Much like the Reds, it was a disappointing season for Peterborough who suffered relegation from the Championship, making an immediate return to the third tier.

In the end, they only finished four points away from safety but, after slipping into the bottom three following a 2-0 defeat at Stoke City in mid-November, the Posh never clawed their way back out.

Recent history suggests they are a team that is likely to be there or thereabouts in the race for promotion, finishing sixth, ninth (twice), seventh (twice) and second in six of the last eight seasons at this level.

Former Reds midfielder Grant McCann is in the dugout at Weston Homes Stadium – his second stint with the club – and he will know our Head Coach Michael Duff well from their time at Cheltenham Town.

Peterborough edged the head-to-head with Barnsley last term, winning one and drawing one of the fixtures. However, our previous encounters in League One saw the Reds claim a 4-0 victory on the road before securing a 2-0 win at Oakwell during the 18/19 campaign.


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