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2021/22 Scottish League One preview


Given that League One is still mostly the domain of part-time clubs, any full-time teams should always be considered favourites.


Partick Thistle lived up to that billing last season, eventually. Falkirk on the other hand collapsed like a house of cards in a hurricane; if missing out on promotion was a catastrophe, slumping to fifth place is, er, something worse than a catastrophe?


For 2021/22, the Bairns, Airdrie - who have a bit of a hybrid model in their squad - and Queen's Park, who are in a heck of a hurry after throwing off the shackles of amateurism, are the full-timers. But there's also Cove Rangers who are paying pretty impressive part-time wages. And there's a bunch of battle-hardened squads who would like nothing more to 'welcome' these full-time fancy dans to the seaside leagues. Let's see how it all pans out...


AIRDRIEONIANS (2020/21: 2nd; 2019/20: 3rd; 2018/19: 5th)

Last season's promotion playoff finalists only retained eight of last year's squad - and highly rated youngster Thomas Robert will probably leave - but they will expect to be near the top again. Rhys McCabe, Adam Frizzell and Dylan Easton will add flair and are among a host of new signings who need to see this as their last chance to prove they can make this their day job. A goalscorer would make a big difference - can Gabby McGill or Salim Kouider-Aissa get into double figures?


ALLOA ATHLETIC (2020/21: 10th in Championship; 2019/20: 8th in Championship; 2018/19: 8th in Championship)

It's the end of an era for the Wasps following the end of their three year Championship stay and many mainstays have departed along with manager Peter Grant. Barry Ferguson brings a bit of razzmatazz to the dugout but the jury is still out on his managerial credentials. But on paper this is a pretty strong squad with the addition of Mark Durnan and Fernandy Mendy in defence and Steven Boyd up top, and veterans Andy Graham, Scott Taggart and Alan Trouten have hung around.


CLYDE (2020/21: 8th; 2019/20: 7th; 2018/19: 2nd in League Two)

Danny Lennon hasn't been allowed to take a squad of youngsters to a desert island yet, so he'll have to make do with this motley crew, which includes 14 new signings so far. Conrad Balatoni, Morgaro Gomis and Gregory Tade - the latter coming out of retirement - give them an experienced backbone and David Goodwillie has scored 73 goals in 4 seasons which is some strike rate. This is surely time for them to push on towards the top half of the division.


COVE RANGERS (2020/21: 3rd; 2019/20: 1st in League Two; 2018/19: 1st in Highland League)

Cove still have aspirations to get to the Championship and Ross County duo Ross Draper and Iain Vigurs are the marquee additions to a group that already contains the illustrious trio of Fraser Fyvie, Mitch Megginson and Rory McAllister. Cove's biggest weakness looked like being squad depth - they struggled to fill their bench in the League Cup games - but Paul Hartley has now brought in Shay Logan and Javan Anderson (son of Russell) to boost the defence


DUMBARTON (2020/21: 9th; 2019/20: 6th; 2018/19: 6th)

It was a turbulent summer at the Rock, with manager Jim Duffy leaving and only three of last year's squad remaining. New boss Stevie Farrell has a tough job on his hands rejuvenated a club that only avoided relegation via a playoff in May. Joe McKee should fill the Ross Forbes-shaped hole in midfield, and Gregor Buchanan, Paul Paton and Andy Geggan add experience but it's hard to see where the goals are coming from.


EAST FIFE (2020/21: 6th; 2019/20: 5th; 2018/19: 7th)

The Methil side were unlucky to end up on the wrong side of the split as they were still in promotion contention at the time. They've lost keeper Brett Long and talisman Scott Agnew but there's still plenty of quality with Scott Mercer added to the defence, Danny Swanson in midfield and Kevin Smith and Ryan Wallace up front. They'll fancy they can improve on last season.


FALKIRK (2020/21: 5th; 2019/20: 2nd; 2018/19: 10th in Championship)

It's promotion or bust for the Bairns under new boss Paul Sheerin, who has a squad filled with players that would not look out of place in the second tier. Brad McKay, Ryan McGuffie and Aidan Nesbitt all look like terrific additions on paper, but we said that about many of the team last season. Callumn Morrison might be the best wide player in this league and Aidan Keena certainly has the quality to score for fun, but will expectations weigh them down again?


MONTROSE (2020/21: 4th; 2019/20: 4th; 2018/19: 4th)

Nobody (except maybe their Smokie neighbours?) quite seems to punch above their weight like Stewart Petrie's Montrose do, not least because of a squad that has been settled for a number of years. The loss of striker Russell McLean and loanees Harry Cochrane and Chris Mochrie will make it a bit harder, but getting Blair Lyons back on loan from Partick Thistle is a boost and one of the strongest backlines in the division gives them a good base to work from.


PETERHEAD (2020/21: 7th; 2019/20: 8th; 2018/19: 1st in League Two)

It's hard to know what to make of the Blue Toon, who last season were too good to go down and not nearly good enough to go up. Brett Long and Russell McLean will improve them at either end of the pitch but the days of paying big wages are long gone and it looks like they will play the loan system as best they can. Scott Brown and Simon Ferry give them plenty of quality in midfield but they will miss long-term absentee Gary Fraser. Derek Lyle, now 40, will play his twenty-third league season.


QUEEN'S PARK (2020/21: 1st in League Two; 2019/20: 5th in League Two; 2018/19: 7th in League Two)

Last year's League Two champs have no interest in just consolidating; the Spiders want to get up the leagues and have supplemented their squad with some decent reinforcements in keeper Calum Ferrie and winger Lewis Moore. Michael Doyle, Lee Kilday, Peter Grant and Tommy Robson form an excellent defence and Bob McHugh and Simon Murray should score plenty at this level. It will be interesting to see how rookie coach Laurie Ellis fares after Ray McKinnon left in the summer.



And here's my predicted standings:


1. FALKIRK


2. AIRDRIEONIANS

3. QUEEN'S PARK

4. COVE RANGERS


5. ALLOA ATHLETIC

6. EAST FIFE

7. MONTROSE

8. CLYDE


9. PETERHEAD


10. DUMBARTON


I await the usual constructive criticism...


Lawrie Spence has whinged about Scottish football on Narey's Toepoker since September 2007. He has a life outside this blog. Honestly.

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