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League One Review (September): Sunderland’s promotion competitors starting to emerge already?

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Whilst the form of Lincoln has taken a serious downturn, one or two other sides have emerged as serious promotion competitors to Sunderland already. Join us as we look back at the month that was in September.

MK Dons v Peterborough - Sky Bet League 1 Photo by John Cripps/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Bristol Rovers battle the odds

Despite being predicted to struggle this season, Graham Coughlan and his team are defying expectation.

An unbeaten month that included three wins and two draws has pushed the Pirates into 7th position, only one point behind Blackpool in 6th. As we enter October, they are slowly becoming League One’s dark horse, as they bid to win an unlikely promotion.

Despite losing key defender Tom Lockyer in the summer, the Pirates have a watertight defence to thank for their impressive September, as two shut-outs against Rotherham United and Lincoln City helped them pick up maximum points.

They are pretty nifty up top too and currently own the League’s top goalscorer in Jonson Clarke-Harris, who has netted seven goals already!

Bristol Rovers v Accrington Stanley - Sky Bet League One - Memorial Stadium Photo by Steven Paston/EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images

Fleetwood Town - not just a flash in the pan?

Whisper it quietly but the man everyone loves to hate, Joey Barton, is turning out to be a pretty handy manager. Fleetwood’s opening day win over promotion hopefuls Peterborough United appears to have been the springboard that has catapulted the Trawlermen into genuine promotion contenders, as they end the month in third position.

Having won four of their five games in September, Barton’s summer recruitment appears to be paying dividends, with Josh Morris, Jimmy Dunne and Jordan Rossiter particular impressive in a 4-3-3 formation.

This weekend’s dismantling of Shrewsbury Town was as devastating as it was impressive, and ensured that their League One counterparts are aware their August form wasn’t just a flash in the pan.

Shrewsbury Town v Fleetwood Town - Sky Bet League One Photo by James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images

Lincoln suffering following loss of Danny Cowley

They say a week can be a long time in football, so this month must have felt like a lifetime for Imps fans as they continue to struggle since Danny Cowley’s departure to Huddersfield Town. Despite starting the month in the top two, four defeats in five has seen them drop to 11th in the table.

The form of both Jorge Grant and Tyler Walker has also taken a downturn, with only one goal between them, as opposed to five the month prior.

New boss Michael Appleton may have only been in charge for ten days but after witnessing a 6-0 home defeat to Oxford United in his first game in charge, he may have some job to lift the spirits of a team shell shocked from the departure of the popular Cowley.

Lincoln City v Oxford United - Sky Bet League One Photo by Chris Vaughan - CameraSport via Getty Images

Free-scoring Posh proving to be the real deal

Starting the season badly, before becoming the most exciting side in the division? Darren Ferguson’s side normally do things the other way around! Opening defeats to Fleetwood Town and Oxford United have been forgotten, with Posh delivering some sublime attacking football, most notably in their 6-0 demolition of Rochdale.

Their front three of Marcus Maddison, Ivan Toney and Mo Eisa are perhaps the best trio in the division, scoring all eleven of Posh’s goals this month - Eisa and Toney grabbing four each, and Maddison three.

Whilst they have a reputation for a mid-season dip in form, this Peterborough side look far more equipped to go for the League One title this term and nobody would surprised if they gained automatic promotion come the end of the season.

Northampton Town v Peterborough United - Leasing.com Trophy Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images