Forest Green Rovers are set to make their EFL debut this year following promotion from the National League, we take a look at how other sides have fared in their first season in the League in the last 25 years.
12 clubs in total have taken their maiden steps in English football's fourth tier since the above date and all have, at the very least, secured their place for the following campaign.
Three of those teams have, in fact, gone that one step further and achieved back-to-back promotions. Wycombe Wanderers were the first of those clubs to cap their debut with another step up the league pyramid.
Martin O’Neill’s side finished fourth in the Division Three table, meaning the lottery of the play-offs loomed. After brushing aside Carlisle United in the semi-final, the Chairboys met Preston North End for a place in Division Two. O’Neill’s team didn’t disappoint, and turned in a superb display to emerge 4-2 victors over the Lilywhites.
It was 17 years before Wanderers’ feat was repeated, with Stevenage taking the same path to promotion in 2011. Impressive form through the months of February and March catapulted Graham Westley and his players up the table and into the play-off positions, where they went from strength to strength.
A two-legged triumph over Accrington Stanley would follow, and then came the climax - a play-off final date with Torquay United at Old Trafford. Albeit a tight affair, Stevenage prevailed, edging out their opponents thanks to a John Mousinho finish on the stroke of half-time.
After waiting almost two decades for an achievement such as Wycombe’s to be accomplished once more, two then arrived in quick succession. Crawley Town would go one step further than both Wycombe and Stevenage however, with the Reds achieving automatic promotion at the first time of asking. Tyrone Barnett and Matt Tubbs both weighed in with 13 and 12 league goals respectively, contributing to an unforgettable season at the Checkatrade.com Stadium.
There are then those who marginally missed out on successive leaps up the footballing ladder. Both Yeovil Town and Cheltenham Town went within a whisker of securing play-off places in 2004 and 2000 respectively, with the Glovers falling short on goal difference.
Cheltenham were extremely close to breaking into that top seven too, but ultimately they finished just two points adrift of Hartlepool United, who occupied the final play-off spot.
Others also enjoyed very successful first outings in the EFL. In 2008, Morecambe secured a top-half finish, racking up an impressive 60-point tally in the process.
Burton Albion bettered that haul in 2010, with their 17 victories playing a huge hand in a 62-point return for the season. Despite this, they missed out on a top-half finish, and had to settle for 13th place.
Both Newport County and Kidderminster Harriers comfortably secured their League status at the first time of asking too, as 58 and 53-point finishes ensured 14th and 16th spots for the two respective sides.
Despite finishing 20th back in 2008, Dagenham & Redbridge in fact survived with relative comfort. John Still’s side rounded off the season with two victories against Darlington and Mansfield Town, finishing seven points clear of the League Two relegation zone.
Aldershot Town made their first venture into the league in the 2008/09 season, and got the campaign off to a flying start with an impressive away success over Accrington. A real purple patch of form over the months of November and December then saw the Shots pick up valuable points, on their way to finishing 15th in the table.
AFC Wimbledon were promoted into the EFL in 2011. Terry Brown's side won seven out of their first 12 matches to gain a solid foundation to build from, with them eventually ending the season in 16th place.
How sides have fared in their first season in the league
|3rd||Crawley Town (Promoted)||46||23||15||8||76||54||+22||84|
|4th||Wycombe Wanderers (Promoted via the play-offs)||42||19||13||10||67||53||+14||70|
|6th||Stevenage (Promoted via the play-offs)||46||18||15||13||62||45||+17||69|
|20th||Dagenham & Redbridge||46||13||10||23||49||70||-21||49|