The Scottish League One looks like being a one-team race this year as far as the title is concerned after Falkirk slipped into the third tier for the first time in around four decades. Still, you never know in football and the race for the playoffs should be wide open. Our finishing predictions are below.
Ok, we are far from original in predicting The Bairns to bounce back at the first attempt, but sometimes t5hings are so probable you have to go with them. They were relegated on the last day of the season thanks to part-time Alloa snatching a draw and despite the drop, they have maintained a large squad – all be it with a large number of changes. They have added a lot of experience and should win the division with some ease.
2nd Forfar Athletic
Runners up last year and look poised for a repeat. Last seasons player assistant manager John Baird has retired and his 22 goals in all competitions will be missed, but they have brought in Andy Jackson who did well in a struggling club last season and we also like the signing of Jordan Kirkpatrick who is well suited to this level. They lost in the play-off semi-final last year and might go one better this time.
The Diamonds have had a bit of a tumultuous time of it, however, the 2018 takeover seems to have put an end to that and Manager Ian Murray has been busy in the transfer market virtually turning over his squad. They look to have a nice blend of experience backed up with a lot of young players who can rotate in and out. With 28 players on the books, they have one of the bigger squads and they should finish higher than their 5th place last season.
4th Raith Rovers
Raith made the playoff final last season but lost out to Queen of the South who retained their Scottish Championship status. They have trimmed their squad a lot which is a concern but have also added a few interesting players including ex-Celtic Reserve player Regan Hendry who has had numerous caps at Scottish Youth level. Losing both Kevin Nisbet and Liam Buchanan is a blow and they are not likely to score 75 league goals again this year. The lack of firepower may cost them, but they still look like scraping a playoff place.
On the Fringes
5th East Fife
East Fife looked set to make the playoffs last season, but a dreadful run in March & April put pay to that (they were comfortably in the playoffs at the end of February). They have a small squad again and this could come back to haunt them late in the season as tiredness and injuries begin to take their toll. We like the signing of Danny Denholme from last seasons Champions Arbroath & the loan signing of Daniel Church from Celtic reserves is intriguing. They may just fall short again.
Montrose took the final playoff spot last season thanks largely to three good wins in April. They lost the playoff semi to eventual winners Queen of the South losing 5-0 in the second leg after a battling win in the home game. Overall they looked to overachieve a lot in 2018-19 and a step back looks possible. The squad is little changed with only two departures and four new signings, although two of these have Championship experience. Overall they don’t look to have improved while some of their peers have; still given the fact they nearly went out of business not too long ago they will probably settle for safety this season.
Clyde won promotion via the playoffs last season and they will probably be looking to consolidate this year after so many years in the bottom tier. The Bully Wee have held onto striker David Goodwillie and we like the signing of Goalie David Mitchell. However, the squad doesn’t look good enough to challenge for a top-half place.
Last seasons League Two champions Peterhead are a club built on stability with manager Jim McInally being in charge since 2011, making him the longest-serving manager in the SPFL. There has been relatively little turnover in the squad and they can rely on likely captain Rory McAllister to keep scoring vital goals. Should stay up.
Stranraer struggled last season and were fortunate to hit a bit of a purple patch in April which saw them win three on the bounce including narrow wins over two playoff-bound teams. A repeat would probably be seen as a success this year and they will be without Innes Cameron who has been recalled to Kilmarnock after scoring 10 goals for the Blues in 29 games. Losing Kyle Turner in midfield is also a blow and overall the squad looks no better than last seasons.
Dumbarton are under a bit of a financial cloud with rumours abounding concerning their viability. Most of their experienced players have exited and the signings have been mainly younger players. Until things become more stable they are likely to struggle.