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League Two playoffs: Which team to back

Sunday 14th May 2017
The Sky Bet League Two playoffs is a pivotal part of the football league. Allowing teams to climb the ladder and escape the threat of playing outside England's top four divisions is an opportunity attempted to be seized by all. I take a look at who is your best bet for this year's League Two playoff campaign. 

4th place - Luton - 15/8

Luton Town are involved in an open playoff campaign. With the bookies struggling to back one team, it looks like a £5 punt on them may be worth it this year. Falling short of automatic promotion by just eight points, they are still eyeing up the prospect of playing in League One next season. Should they make the jump they'll be playing in that division for the first time in almost a decade. Luton once plied their trade in the Championship - rich history will not evade many fanatic fans as they are desperate for their team to once again climb the ladder.

One major advantage that Luton have in their ranks is the league's third highest goalscorer, Danny Hylton. He enters this stage having scored the most goals out of any other player competing in this year's playoffs. Hylton's scored 21 times this season, which demonstrates his scoring ability. He will look to put a few past Blackpool in their two-legged semi-final affair.

A price of 15/8 makes Luton favourites to gain promotion at Wembley, an excellent price for the favourites. Having just missed out on automatic promotion, they'll be eager to make amends.

5th place - Exeter - 12/5

The western side have been competing in League Two for the past six seasons, teasing fans with hopeful playoff campaigns, only to finish mid-table. Well, this seems to be the year for Exeter, who have hit goal-scoring form just at the right time. Eight goals in their last three games is an impressive record as they enter the semi-finals against Carlisle. Interestingly, the Grecians lost 3-2 against Carlisle last week in their final game of the season, suffering from conceding two penalties.

Exeter's top goalscorer, David Wheeler has enjoyed his best season yet with 17 goals for his club. His scoring ability could prove crucial in the playoffs. So, priced at 12/5, the value isn't too bad for the fifth-placed team in League Two. However, the Grecians finished inside the playoff positions for the first time since relegation to this division in 2012. Playoff success may be too much to ask.

6th place - Carlisle - 7/2

The team least likely to succeed, according to the bookies, is Keith Curle's side, Carlisle. Following an eight-year stint in League One, the club's fate was eventually sealed when they were relegated to England's fourth tier. Since avoiding relegation out of the football league in 2015, they've made steady progress, finishing 10th in 2016 and now 5th this season.

Surprisingly, the Cumbrians have conceded an astonishing 68 goals in 46 games this campaign, the highest inside the top fifteen places. A disappointing attack has managed just one goal more, scoring 69 times, leaving them with an extremely poor goal difference. This statistic alone is certainly a contributing factor to why they're the least likely to go up. A price of 7/2 may look inviting, but I would steer well clear. A recently free-scoring Exeter will have no mercy on Carlisle's unsteady defence.

7th place - Blackpool - 10/3

I'm sure everyone has heard about Blackpool, an introduction to the Seasiders is unnecessary given their short-lived Premier League experience. Despite their unfortunate decline through the football league system, including hostility between fans and owners, the players have done the talking this season, managing to scrape seventh place to remain in with a shout of reaching League One.

With Gary Bowyer in charge, Blackpool have a great opportunity to get back towards where they belong. They've managed to pull off some impressive performances so far this season, including overcoming Doncaster Rovers of late, who finished third in League Two. However, a 1-0 loss to Luton Town (their next opponents in the semi-final) will be fresh in their minds as they enter the playoff campaign.

As much as I'd love Blackpool to gain promotion, perhaps playing in the Premier League again one day, I don't think they have it in them. They only just made the playoffs by one point and don't really have any stats going their way. I think the favourites, Luton, will be too much for them over two legs.

The Skybet League Two playoffs are due to start on Sunday 14th May. The final will take place at Wembley Stadium, 28th May 2017.
Jack Drury
19 years of age. Sport and Exercise Science Student at Loughborough University. Peterborough United.

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