Nationwide Second Division - Season 2002/03 Review (Part One)

Last updated : 13 May 2003 By
Wigan Athletic were worthy champions, after an excellent season, in which Paul Jewell's side lost on only four occasions all season.

Andy Liddell topped the scoring charts, with 16 league goals and together with the livewire Nathan Ellington, who proved himself to be one of the most accomplished strikers outside of the top flight, goal scoring was never a problem for the Latics.

Coupled that with a watertight defence which conceded just 25 goals all season and it was no wonder that the Lancastrians were able to top the 100 point mark in their final game of the season, at home to Barnsley.

With money available, Wigan Athletic ought to be able to impose themselves in their debut season in the Nationwide Division One, come August.

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Crewe Alexandra returned to the Nationwide First Division after an absence of just one season.

Dario Gradi's men found the going reasonably tough at Gresty Road, as seven home league defeats testify, but their ability to secure three points away was exceptional, with 14 wins, together with an impressive record of only three defeats.

The Alex managed to overcome the challenge of big spending and well supported Cardiff City to claim the second automatic promotion slot, and it would be a foolish man to back against Gradi' keeping the Alex up next time around. EXCELLENT FOOTYMAD WEBSITE.

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Bristol City again threatened at times to gain automatic promotion, but as has happened in previous years recently the Robins away form proved to be their archiles heel.

Formidable at Ashton Gate, where 15 victories were registered, the West Countrymen only picked up 33 points on their travels. A good finish to the season ensured third place and an eagerly awaited clash with near rivals from down the M4, Cardiff City.

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Brentford's fiercest rivals, Queens Park Rangers enjoyed a fine end to the campaign, and indeed had it not been for a horrendous run in November and December, the Hoops may well have already been celebrating promotion.

Manager, Ian Holloway has built a hard working, resilient side, who should go close next season, if they are unsuccessful in the play-offs this time around. Ended the season top of the attendance chart lists.

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Oldham Athletic were the division's hardest team to beat, with the exception of runaway champions, Wigan Athletic.

Indeed, Ian Dowie's men lost just twice away from their Boundary Park home all seson, but a total of 16 draws put paid to realistic ambitions of automatic promotion.

Will play Queens Park Rangers in the play-offs.

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Big spending Cardiff City flattered to deceive somewhat, and come the end of the season only managed to claim the last play-off spot, one point ahead of Ray Mathias's Tranmere Rovers.

The Bluebirds did have the prolific Robert Earnshaw amongst their ranks, who claimed a club record 31 goals throughout the campaign, but as his goals dried up late on, the Welshmen lost ground to Crewe Alexandra in the race for automatic promotion.

After losing in the semi-final of the play-offs to Stoke City last season, under fire manager Lennie Lawrence will hope his team can regain their form immediately and clinch a spot in the Nationwide First Division. Anything less will be deemed as failure. EXCELLENT FOOTYMAD WEBSITE.

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Tranmere Rovers finished the season in fantastic style, 15 games unbeaten, including five successive wins to complete their campaign.

For a club to obtain 80 points and still not make the play-offs must be extremely disappointing for all concerned with the Merseyside oufit, but providing the nucleus of the team remains, expect the men from Prenton Park to go even closer next time.

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Last year's Nationwide Third Division champions, Plymouth Argyle, acquitted themselves exceptionally well in their first season at the higher level.

The Pilgrims highly rated manager, scotsman, Paul Sturrock has fashioned a competitive and hard working unit. Providing their Home Park form can be maintained, further consolidation can be expected next season.

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Joe Kinnear's Luton Town, like Plymouth Argyle, promoted last season from the Third Division can be extremely happy with their progress, after an awful start in which the Hatters did not record a single point until their fifth game of the season.

Greater consistency, especially at home will be needed to challenge for a play-off place next term.

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Andy King's Swindon Town were another club to overcome
a difficult start and the capture of the free scoring forward, Sam Parkin, proved pivotal in their climb up the table.

With money tight at the County Ground, another mid table finish is likely in twelve months time.

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Peterborough United, under the guidance of the mercurial Barry Fry, secured a top half placing, thanks to an unbeaten finish to the season of nine games, which included five victories.

Tipped by some for relegation at the start of the campaign, it will be interesting to see if any of the bigger clubs come in for some of the Posh's star young players in the close season.

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Colchester United, relegation candidates in January, sacked their manager, Steve Whitton and recovered to such an extent that a twelth place finish was achieved in the final reckoning under new supremo, Phil Parkinson.

Continually amongst the poorest supported clubs in the division in terms of numbers, means money is always tight at Layer Road, a factor which may consign the Essex outfit to a season of struggle next year.

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You can find part Two of the club by club season review elsewhere on this website, The Bee Hive, the unofficial voice of Brentford Football Club.

nb. This review has been compiled by the editor of the Bee Hive, and does not necessarily reflect the views of BrentfordFC.

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