Mansfield Town manager John Dempster believes Saturday’s visitors Plymouth Argyle are among the frontrunners for promotion, despite Ryan Lowe’s men taking just two points from the last five games.
Dempster said: “After five games people were thinking Plymouth would run away with the league – and rightly so – because of their manager, how highly thought of he is, and what he achieved last season.
“You look at the players they have recruited and their attendances – they are a very big club.
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“But the face of the matter is they are only two points ahead of us and it shows you how competitive the league is and that it is still early days.
“They were very unlucky in their last game against Cheltenham.
“Cheltenham have had a great start to the season and what a job their manager is doing there, but Plymouth were unfortunate and hit the woodwork several times and created opportunity.
“When we speak about a false look to the league table that is certainly the case with Plymouth’s situation. They are a team who will climb the league - I have no doubt about that.
“Ryan is a very talented young manager. He has only been in post for a season and a bit. But what he produced last season from his players at Bury, despite the difficulties going on in the background, was an incredible achievement.
“Plymouth will climb the league table and we just have to make sure that’s not on Saturday.
“They were among my promotion favourites pre-season and still are. You look at the players they have recruited. They have some very good players and they are a big club.
“They came down from League One and sometimes relegated sides take a bit of time to get going with the changes that happen.
“But they are very well supported and he’s been very well backed.
“With his ability as a manager there is no doubt they will climb that table.”
A lot has changed since the closing weeks of the last campaign, when a run of eight games without a win saw them slide from mid-table security into the bottom four.
Derek Adams was dismissed after a humiliating 5-1 defeat at Accrington Stanley in the penultimate match and, despite a 3-2 home win against Scunthorpe United in the final game, they were relegated on goal difference.
Ryan Lowe arrived from Bury on a three-year contract with a reputation for playing attacking football and made 11 new signings so, perhaps not surprisingly, things have not gelled yet.
Lowe was excellent with his public relations when he came into the club. He was so positive and upbeat that at times it was easy to forget Argyle were coming off a relegation campaign.
Back-to-back wins at the start of the league season further fuelled the optimism that he generated around the club and there was a gate of 11,500 for a Tuesday night game against Salford City at Home Park in August.
Pre-season expectations were a top seven spot, preferably a top three finish and that remains the case, but clearly there is a lot of hard work ahead for Lowe and his players after picking up 12 points from the first 10 games.
Lowe’s Bury were the top goalscorers in League Two last season and he wants to implement a similar style at Argyle.
He is determined to stick to his belief in a 3-1-4-2 formation, with a lot of onus on the wing-backs to get forward and join the attacks.
At the moment, it is still very much a work in progress as the players - those who were at the club last term and the summer acquisitions - try to gel together as an effective unit.
Plymouth’s main summer departures were 19-goal top scorer Freddie Ladapo to Rotherham United in a £500,000 transfer.
Playmaking duo Graham Carey and Ruben Lameiras also moved on as free agents, to Bulgarian side CSKA Sofia and newly-promoted Portuguese top flight club Famalicao respectively.
Talented Bury midfielder Danny Mayor was the main summer signing for Lowe, with defender Will Aimson, wing-back Callum McFadzean and attacking duo Byron Moore and Dom Telford also making the same moves.
Inevitably, Mayor has been the stand out performer after rejoining his former boss.
He has had a couple of less effective games but, generally, he has shown why so many pundits regard him as one of the most gifted playmakers in League Two.
Mayor has been a marked man all season, and has got some rough treatment in recent games against Port Vale and Cheltenham Town, which Argyle felt was not dealt with properly by lenient referees.
He and wing-back McFadzean link up well on the left.
Injuries have been a recurring theme all season for Lowe, who has never had a fully fit squad to select from and that continues to be the case.
Striker Dom Telford was the latest addition to the casualty list after he suffered a hamstring injury in the first half of the 2-0 defeat by Cheltenham Town at Home Park last Saturday.
Wing-back Joe Riley (knee), midfielder Jose Baxter (calf), and strikers Byron Moore (hamstring) and Zak Rudden (knee) all missed out. Only Riley is likely to have a chance of being involved against Mansfield.