Despite the new name, the Scottish Division Two, is still the bottom tier of the Scottish Leagues, four divisions. Here we take a look at the odds for the title, top four and bottom club.
The bookmakers have an out and out favourite, with only two other sides, worthy of a punt for the championship.
Peterhead are 15/8 with Coral for the title. It was a tale of so near, so far for Peterhead, they finished in second, twenty-four points behind Rangers, and were beaten 1-0 on aggregate by East Fife in the play-off final. Having got rid of several fringe players, Peterhead have managed to bring in some good quality, as they prepare for another tilt at promotion. Midfielder, Jordan Brown has joined from Aberdeen, while Keith Buchan joins from Dundee. With the squad very much intact, its difficult to look past the side from the Balmoor to win the title. A 2-1 win over Brechin City in the Challenge Cup was followed by a 0-2 loss to Alloa Athletic, but with both sides a division above, it bodes well for the new campaign.
Relegated Albion Rovers will look for a swift return to League One, after a dismal season. The Coatbridge based side, finished thirteen points adrift of safety at the bottom of the table, losing twenty-six and conceding over eighty. For a side that’s 11/2 with Bet365, they have lost some influential players, including Marvin Andrews, while not really replacing them. Money is an issue, so they must hope that the remaining squad can do the business. They have started the season with a 0-4 to Rangers and a 0-1 to Dumbarton in the cup competitions, and I get the feeling that 11/2 is too short. One to avoid.
With the rest 7/1 bar, its clear that Peterhead are miles ahead of anyone else, so I feel its worth looking at the next market for some value.
Top 4 Finish
With the two above sides quoted at short odds-on prices, the three sides below are worth a look in the top four market.
Queens Park are Evens to hit a play-off place at the end of the season. The Glaswegian side missed out on promotion after finishing third, and losing in the semi finals of the play-offs. This Summer has seen an exodus of players, as better sides cherry pick from the squad. This has seen Aidan Connolly, Andrew Robertson and Lawrence Shankland join Premier League sides and Jamie Longworth joining Stranraer.
The only bit of incoming business, has been midfielder, Michael Brown from East Fife. The depletion to the squad seems to have had an adverse affect, as they have started with a 1-2 and 0-6 defeat in the cup competitions, although than can boast a superb 1-0 friendly win against Turkish giants Besiktas in July. With the quality of the division being so poor, Queens Park, should still have enough to make the play-offs but their opening two matches don’t bode well for punters or fans alike.
Berwick Rangers are 6/5 with BetVictor to reach a play-off berth. The “English” did well last season, finishing fourth, before being eliminated from the play-off at the semi-final stage. A superb 3-2 extra time victory over Livingstone in the Challenge Cup was somewhat negated by a 0-5 thumping from Cowdenbeath in the League Cup. Its a case of two in and one out in the transfer market, with ‘keeper Paul Grant joined by Stephen Tulloch, while Dylan Easton left for St.Johnstone. There is certainly no reason why Rangers cannot repeat last seasons feats.
Also at 6/5 with BetVictor are Stirling Albion. Stirling finished seventh last season and I cannot quite put my finger on why they are at such a short price. Scott Davidson and Gary Thom have left, while Chris Smith is the only player to join the squad, Their early games have ended in defeat to Raith Rovers (1-2) and Hamilton Academicals (0-3) in the cup competitions too, so form isn’t ideal. For a side that finished mid table and has not done anything in the transfer market, its hard to justify a punt, especially at such short odds.
As far as bookmakers are concerned its a straight fight for the leagues wooden spoon between two sides, with the rest a massive 16/1 bar.
East Stirlingshire are unsurprising favourites at 1/2 with BetVictor. The perennial strugglers of Scotland and guests at Stenhousemuir’s, Ochliview stadium have finished bottom for the last two seasons. They are a side in dire straights financially and basically if the Scottish League were to incorporate the English way of relegation to the non-league, its fair to say East Stirling would sink without trace. They did have a short lived bit of success a few years ago, but its been back to reality the last couple of season.
They have brought in six players including Michael Bolochoweckyj, who will be safe in the knowledge that if he doesn’t play well, he will at least contribute to the barren coffers of the club via the cost of getting his name on the back of a shirt! To make matters worse, they started the season losing 0-2 to non-league Formartine United in the Challenge Cup, followed by a 0-2 defeat to Dunfermline Athletic in the League Cup. The team that shipped ninety-seven goals last season, will be looking to re-enforce their goal nets once again and anything else than bottom will come as a huge surprise.
So its left to Clyde at 11/4 with BetVictor to challenge East Stirling for that wooden spoon. They are another side who’ve struggled in recent years and have no money. The saving grace of last season was that East Stirling were worse, as they finished eleven points ahead and one place above the bottom club. Two ins and one out make up their transfer window, and they have lost in both cups, losing on both occasions to Falkirk, 1-2 and 0-3 respectively.
The Cumbernauld side will need a miracle to do any better than second from bottom, but at 11/4, it could be worth supporting East Stirling as your second team this season at the price Clyde are offered at.