10/1 shot Joe Garner smashed 26 goals on the way to claiming the League One Top Goalscorer honours last season. Anytime Goalscoring genius and Football League aficionado Gavin Horsfall (@GHorsfall) shares his thoughts on the 2015/16 renewal.
League One | Top Goalscorer
It perhaps says something about the strength of sides in League One over the last three seasons that only three of the 12 players to finish in the top-four scorers have played for sides that finished outside the top-eight.
The superiority of teams that occupy the top positions in the division had left the third tier with an unbalanced feel in recent years; Ian Henderson managed 22 goals (helped by six penalties) for Rochdale, who finished eighth, last season but elsewhere in the places Joe Garner, Eoin Doyle and Andy Williams all played for sides who finished in the top-six.
The season prior, Britt Assombalonga and Kieran Agard both played for well-placed sides, eventually chasing home Sam Baldock for a fast-finishing Bristol City. There’s a different feel to League One this year though; on paper it looks more balanced which opens the door for potential improvers and perhaps means we shouldn’t focus exclusively on forward players for fancied sides. Saying that though…
A tough season ahead for Neil Harris you might think as Millwall cut their cloth accordingly for life in the third tier for the first time in five years. There’s plenty of positive spin from Harris about the focus on youth and trimming the playing squad but it’s definitely more out of necessity than desire you’d imagine.
Despite that, in headline pick Lee Gregory they have a number nine that should more than appreciate the drop down in class. Nine in 28 for the 26-year-old last season, his first in League football, after a prolific season at Halifax, he can lead the line effectively and should be able to add to his tally from the penalty spot. There’s more than a bit of the ‘Neil Harris’’ about Gregory who’s performances will be epitomised by harrying defenders, chasing lost causes and causing panic in opposition boxes.
Rotherham boss Steve Evans said he hoped Gregory would ‘enjoy League One’ after the striker voiced his optimism that Rotherham would bottle it towards the end of last season, with the market looking typically open outside of Will Grigg and Billy Sharp and with a few question marks around the chasing pack though, Gregory looks to tick most of the boxes and I fancy him to go very close, by which time Evans would no doubt have claimed an assist.
CV’s don’t come more reputable at this level than the three League One promotions achieved by Nigel Adkins with Scunthorpe and Southampton. He also has a habit of getting the best from bustling centre forwards; I’m thinking Rickie Lambert and Paul Hayes who both played important roles in Adkins team’s gone by.
Adkins now takes charge of Sheffield Utd and I just wonder whether in Connor Sammon he might just be able to get more out of the 28-year-old than we’ve seen in the last few seasons. To be fair to Sammon, his paltry goal return in England has come in the top two divisions; a drop down to League One might just afford him a chance to replicate his time at Kilmarnock where he made a name for himself.
He looks a better alternative to Michael Higdon (who I would probably have put up if Sammon hadn’t have arrived) to put in the hard yards for Billy Sharp and with a year left on his Derby contract he should remain fully motivated throughout the season. Not an obvious choice based on goal record but he fits the profile of a player Adkins works well with so shouldn’t be ignored for a side that looks sure to contend this year.
There’s not really much else I fancy backing at the prices if I’m honest but if you’re looking for forward players with experience at this level, guaranteed game time and on penalties then Chris Porter looks a bet to nothing at 150/1.
There’s not much of the unknown about Porter; a couple of indifferent seasons at Bramall Lane came to end when Tony Humes bought him to Colchester last January, Porter playing a vital role in The Us survival with seven in 21 appearances.
There’s a bit more to Porter’s game than just a target man – Humes has made Porter captain this year and the 31-year old could revel in the role of experienced pro amongst Colchester’s young side. Perhaps clutching at straws here but there’s a possibility the best years for Porter are in front of him, at 150/1, it’s not expensive to find out.
League One Top Goalscorer – Lee Gregory (each-way)
League One Top Goalscorer – Connor Sammon (each-way)
League One Top Goalscorer – Chris Porter (150/1 each-way)
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