The Guardian League 2 Best XI
Goalkeeper: Marek Stech (Luton Town) Kept 15 clean sheets after leaving Sparta Prague to sign for his former Yeovil Town team-mate Nathan Jones. A gentle giant but also one of Luton’s leaders.
Right-back: Jack Stacey (Luton) Another impressive season after starring on loan at Exeter in 2016-17. The 22-year-old former Reading trainee caught the eye with marauding, overlapping runs.
Centre-back: Mark Hughes (Accrington Stanley) One half of a watertight partnership alongside Jimmy Dunne, the captain played every minute of their title-winning campaign to help the team to the joint-best defensive record.
Centre-back: Adam El-Abd (Wycombe Wanderers) The 33-year-old is settled after a difficult couple of years since leaving boyhood club Brighton. By his own admission, one of a “number of captains” in Gareth Ainsworth’s squad.
Left-back: Tom James (Yeovil Town) The reliable Welshman made 51 appearances in his breakthrough season. Former Cardiff trainee, 22, could be the latest to depart for a bigger fish.
Centre-midfield: Jorge Grant (Notts County) Joined Nottingham Forest in 2013 via Reading and the Nike Academy. His most recent move, across the Trent, has been his most prosperous, though, with Grant regularly grasping centre stage.
Centre-midfield: Tom Bayliss (Coventry City) Coventry’s next big thing, the teenager, who joined aged 12, looks set to follow a well-trodden path. Dancing feet, daring and direct, he made his full debut in December.
Centre-midfield: Sean McConville (Accrington) Part of the team that missed automatic promotion by one goal in 2016 and a key cog in getting over the line this time. John Coleman demanded more end product and he delivered.
Striker: Billy Kee (Accrington) Kee finished as the division’s top scorer after an extraordinary year. Has spoken powerfully about his struggles off the pitch but excelled on it.
Striker: Mohamed Eisa (Cheltenham Town) A year on from giving Ryman South defenders the runaround, Eisa is one of the Football League’s most prolific strikers. The Sudan-born striker got 25 goals in his first season as a professional.
Striker: Marc McNulty (Coventry) Persuaded by Michael Doyle, Coventry’s captain, to join, McNulty scored 28 goals after a stuttering start. Unselfish and savvy.
Subs: Aaron Chapman, Dan Potts, Luke O’Nien, Sammie Szmodics, Jayden Stockley, Christian Doidge
Manager: John Coleman (Accrington) There is an argument that the ebullient scouser’s achievements put Pep Guardiola’s success in the shade. Promotion was a magnificent reward for his hard-working side.