There was no closer ending to a season than the 2012/13 nPower League 1. Going into the final game bar three of the four relegation spots, all was to play for. Doncaster travelled to Brentford, with both knowing whoever won sealed automatic promotion. At 0-0, Brentford were given a penalty in the 95th minute, missed by Marcelo Trotta. Doncaster countered and scored to win the title, with ex-Newcastle man James Coppinger with the winner! Scunthorpe failed to better results of relegation rivals and dropped into League Two.
Brentford will be all the more distraught, as after the drama of the last game of the season, they went on to lose the play-off final to Yeovil, who finished 4th after a season of cracking home form under Gary Johnson. Sheffield Utd and recently promoted Swindon finished off the top 6, with the latter two failing miserably in the play-off semi-finals.
At the wrong end of the table, Portsmouth have made it three consecutive relegations after hitting financial woes in the Premier Leauge three years ago. They were docked 10 points at the start of this season for failing to come out of administration. Bury suffered financial problems and dropped, and Hartlepool, despite patches of great form, are also demoted, along with Scunthorpe. None of the four that came up; Crawley, Swindon, Crewe or Shrewsbury went back down, with all four doing quite well, which says a great deal about the strength of League 2.
The four that hope to follow in the footsteps of their promotion predecessors are Champions Gillingham, Rotherham, Port Vale and Capital Cup finalists Bradford, who put the heartache of losing the final to finish 7th and punish lacklustre Northampton in the final.
Four teams caught the eye this season, impressing more than most. Bournemouth, after sacking Paul Grove in October and replacing with Burnley boss and club legend Eddie Howe, managed to improve on 11th in 11/12 to finish 2nd. Yeovil rose 13 places from the previous season to end 4th, and achieve promotion. Leyton Orient also managed a 13 place improvement, going from 20th to 7th – possibly one to watch for the 2013/14 season. Finally Walsall – with an excellent home record, and a tight defence – finished 8th after a 19th place finish in 2011/12 – again, one to watch out in the fight for the play-offs come next season.
The four to really disappoint were the three worst teams. Portsmouth went from 24th in the Championship to 24th in League One, with very little fight. Hartlepool dropped 10 places from the previous season, which will disappoint Soccer Saturday’s Jeff Stelling! Bury dropped 8 places from 2011/12 – financial struggles playing their part. Despite the size, stature and history of Coventry, with financial doubts looming over and administration rolling in, they struggled to 15th with a 10 point penalty. Much better was expected – even without the penalty they’d have only had 12th place
Topping the Scoring charts this season is Yeovil’s Paddy Madden with 23, a trio of Will Grigg, Leon Clarke and Brett Pitman tying for 2nd with 19 each, and Clayton Donaldson 3rd, with 18. Doncaster’s’ David Cotterill topped the assists with an astounding 20, Scunthorpe’s Mark Duffy had 15 in 2nd and Dean Cox of Leyton Orient was 3rd with 14.
Our player of the season is a difficult one, but has to go to David Cotterill, 10 goals and 20 assists is a stunning effort from the Welshman. He has found his level, having not had much football at Barnsley or Swansea in the past few years. At 26 he could be a very good championship player for Doncaster in years to come!