Last week on our Twitter page (Our Twitter) we ran a poll asking readers which team they felt has made the best start to their season across the SPFL.
We gave voters a choice from each of the four leagues – Livingston, Ayr United, Arbroath and Edinburgh City. Today, we will discuss why each of these four sides are regarded to have started well and then look at another few sides who have started their campaigns on the right foot.
First of all, here are the results from our poll –
Coming second in reader’s opinion, Livi were thought to have defied the odds just to get to the Premiership this season. Despite a surprising early exit for player-manager Kenny Miller, the West Lothian club made the appointment of Gary Holt, which has thus far proven to be a smart one.
While Miller, who has now gone on to join Dundee, ironically one of the most disappointing teams in the SPFL so far this season, had started his managerial career well in the Betfred cup, it wasn’t quite the same in the league. After his first three games, the former Scotland international had yet to pick up a win, losing two games and drawing one – although playing Celtic, Kilmarnock and Motherwell wasn’t that much of a easy start to the season.
Holt on the other hand has won five games, including a seven game unbeaten run. A 50% win record and 80% of games undefeated is an impressive record for Holt whose only previous job was at Norwich City.
Livi currently sit just outside the top six, in seventh place. In their previous match, Holt’s side managed to hold the Champions, Celtic, to a 0-0 draw. They face a trip to Ibrox this coming weekend.
Goalkeeper Liam Kelly has been in impressive form and even had many supporters suggesting he was deserving of a Scotland call-up recently. Kelly has made 36 saves, which has helped him towards seven clean sheets, the joint highest in the league, along with Celtic’s Craig Gordon.
If you asked supporters at the beginning of this season what they felt was more likely to happen to Ayr United this season, promotion or relegation, you’d doubt many would tip Ian McCall’s team for a jump to the Premiership.
The Honest Men currently sit at the top of the league down in the Championship, and not only that, but they have a three point lead over second placed Dundee United.
Lawrence Shankland has had plenty of plaudits for his 12 league goals so far this term. Fairly of course. However, United have been far from a one man team. They’ve notched a further 13 goals between the rest of the squad. Perhaps more impressively, Ayr have only conceded 12 goals, only title rivals Ross County have conceded less.
25 team goals is the highest In the league, so it’s no surprise that a team so well balanced have managed to succeed to such a level.
United players Michael Moffat and Andy Murdoch have notched up seven assists between them, again showing the balance this team possess, Shankland is a true finisher, but like many others, they need chances created and these two do just that.
The team that received the least amount of the vote in our poll, that’s quite possibly down to playing in League One and having a little bit less attention than Edinburgh City. It’s certainly not down to lack of performance.
Defeated in the playoff semi-finals last season, no one would have been surprised to see Dick Campbell’s team contending for a playoff spot again this term. It probably wouldn’t be all that shocking to think they’d be at least putting in a challenge for the title, but to be ten points clear of second placed Raith Rovers? That has taken more than a few by surprise.
Still to taste defeat, the Red Lichties have been very impressive at their home, Gayfield Park. 17 goals on home turf and just the one draw, teams don’t enjoy paying a visit to the stadium boarded by the North Sea.
It’s probably not a shocker to hear that the team ten points better off than anyone else, also dominates the stats. 34 goals scored, the most of any team, 10 goals conceded, the least of any team and Bobby Lin’s nine goals making him second top goal scorer in the league. Lin and Ryan Wallace have notched 16 between them.
Arbroath have proven competitive against the team around them too. Of the three teams closest to them – Raith Rovers, East Fife and Forfar Athletic – Campbell’s team have won three and drawn one of their four games. The one draw was against Raith, but with a ten point lead, that’s all they’ll be needing against Rovers at the moment.
Edinburgh City look like they’ll have a right battle of their hands for the League Two title with Peterhead, but that certainly makes a difference from a year ago.
Peterhead were right up there challenging Montrose for the title last season. Meanwhile, Edinburgh City finished second bottom of the league. They’ve made a right turn around to now be leading at the top of the division by two points.
James McDonaugh came in last October and has seemed to really get the side playing his way. The signing this summer of Blair Henderson, who has struck 11 goals in 12 appearances to currently lead the golden boot race, has also played a massive part.
It’s not been perfect by any means, City have been defeated twice this season. You do, however, know there is likely to be a winner when Edinburgh City play. They’ve not drawn a game all term.
A water tight defence has helped to really put this run together. Henderson has taken the majority of the slack in the goal scoring department, scoring one more than the rest of his team combined. The backline has only allowed five past them all season, Peterhead have conceded one short of double that.
Edinburgh’s lack of goals in comparison to Peterhead can probably be seen through the fact they’re the fifth biggest shot takers in the league. Most league leaders normally appear at least first or second.
Although their accuracy helps to account for this. City are second in the division for shots on target. Peterhead have more on target but are slightly less accurate overall. The North East side currently sit at exactly 50% accuracy rate, while Edinburgh City are sitting on 50.9% accuracy. So it’s the defensive ability that has City ahead of Peterhead, but a combination of that and their sharp shooting that has opened a gap between City and the other challengers.
Who else do you feel has made a fantastic start to the season? Hearts and Killie in the Premiership? Ross County in the Championship? Peter who are rivalling Edinburgh in League Two? Let us know on Twitter!