By Colin Byiers
Another exciting season in the lower leagues comes to an end, here’s my thoughts and ratings for each side in League Two.
Lowland League Champions, Kelty Hearts, breezed through their first season in the league by winning League Two by an impressive 19 points. Kelty did not look out of place in the 4th tier, with Kevin Thompson’s side top the scoring charts and were defensively sound, conceding the fewest goals.
All the more impressive was the fact it was Thompson’s first venture into management as this level, following Barry Ferguson’s departure in the summer. Nathan Austin and Joe Cardle scored between them 29 times earning both a place in the PFA League Two Team of the Year.
Impressive first season in the professional ranks, and will no doubt go on the make an impact in League One next season.
A play-off spot for Forfar would have been the minimum at the start of the season, after last year’s relegation from League One. At no point were the Angus side outside the top 4, spending much of the season in 2nd place.
Ross Meechan was a standout performer, as the Forfar captain put in some stellar performances at the back, with goalkeeper Marc McCallum earning himself 12 clean sheets also. Gary Irvine can now focus on the play-off’s and get his side back into League One at the first time of asking.
Were never really going to compete against eventual Champions Kelty Hearts but have done well to shake off last season’s disappointment.
A much better campaign in 2021/22 compared to last season when they finished 8th with Annan finishing 3rd. On a positive, they scored 64 times, the second highest behind Kelty Hearts on 68, but at the other end it was a different story. Too many goals lost as they end with only Stranraer and Albion Rovers conceding more.
They did, however, pick up 19 points (5 wins and 4 draws) from losing positions, the most in the league. Tony Wallace and Tommy Goss top scored on 13 and 12 respectively, while veteran goalkeeper Greg Fleming produced over 100 saves.
Annan supporters may have been cursing their defence, as it could have been possible for them to have secured 2nd place had they been tighter at the back. Still a very good season for them.
For the 4th season in a row, it’s the play-offs for Edinburgh City. It was a tough start to the campaign when they lost 3 of their opening 4 matches, picking up one win with a single goal victory over Stenhousemuir. After that though, City suffered just two defeats in their next ten matches, helping them push up the table.
Wins against Annan, Forfar and Stranraer at the right times, kept their play-off hopes alive and kept Stenhousemuir and Stranraer at bay. Goals were hard to come by, as no one in the Edinburgh squad made it into double figures.
An average sort of season for Edinburgh, as a top 4 spot is what most would expect from them these days. They will be hoping to go one better in the play-offs this year after their loss in the final against Dumbarton last term.
Mid-table again for Stenhousemuir, who must be the most inconsistent side in League Two, as they can easily go on runs of three wins in a row, then follow it up with 3 defeats on the spin. Another side who got off to a slow start but found their way around November but were too reliant on Thomas Orr for goals. The former Stranraer man netted 13 times in the league, but Adam Brown was the next highest on 6. Defensively Stenny looked good with the vastly experienced Sean Crighton at the back to give them that solid base.
Overall, it’s another season where Stenhousemuir have failed to claim a play-off place and if they are to achieve that, they need to be more consistent.
After winning a play-off spot last term, Stranraer will be disappointed to only finish 6th this season. The season started off on a bad footing when manager Stevie Farrell left before the campaign kicked off. Jamie Hamill took the helm, but it was a difficult start winning just 3 times in the first 13 games. After that though, things progressed and earned 10 victories in the remaining 23 matches.
Tam Muir and Matty Yeats both performed well but neither hit double figures in the league. Stranraer will have to be more ruthless in front of goal next season.
Stranraer might be wishing the season still had 5 games to go as then they might have achieved a play-off spot. Not a bad season considering the goings on at the club.
Stirling Albion missed out on a play-off berth last season on the final day and started this season well, recording 6 wins in the opening 9 games. However, 1 win in the next 16 ended any hopes of a top 4 place as they end the season in 7th place.
Dale Carrick, who was a stunning acquisition from Airdrie, did not fail to impress netting 11 times in his first season at Albion. Without Carrick Stirling may will have finished lower. A 5-0 win in the final day against Edinburgh City will be one of a few highlights in a season that most will be glad is over having started so promisingly.
Ending the season in their lowest position in 6 seasons will be a source of disappointment for most. Will need to improve next season.
Survival will no doubt have been the target for Albion Rovers, as Brian Reid’s side were favourites to finish bottom of the table at the start of the season. Albion’s form in the tail end of the season helped them to avoid 10th in an unbeaten run back in March where they got draws against Kelty Hearts and Forfar as well as beating Stirling Albion and Annan away from home.
Not many goals scored, but Sam Fagan’s performances at the back have been very good. Winning 4-0 at Edinburgh City will have been the Albion faithful’s pick of results.
Finishing 8th and having a point return of 39 is not a bad campaign for Albion, even finishing 10 points ahead of Cowdenbeath in 10th. A good season overall.
3rd last season to 9th this season, this has surely been a massive disappointment for Elgin City. Elgin never really got going this year, only achieving back-to-back wins once. Defensively they were poor, conceding 51 goals in total, the 3rd worst in the league and hitting the net just 33 times, only Cowdenbeath scored less.
Kane Hester was far and away Elgin’s best player has he finished the season with 13 goals. No one else got near that number, in fact, only 5 players managed to score more than once.
A campaign to forget for Gavin Price’s side as they finish in their lowest position in 8 years. Some unhappy City supporters will be looking for much better next season.
Saved from finishing 10th last season by a poor Brechin City, Cowdenbeath finish bottom for the 3rd time in 6 season’s and now face a relegation play-off against Bonnyrigg Rose for a place in next seasons League Two.
After picking up a win over Elgin in the second game of the season, it was not until December that they won another league game. A wee run of 3 wins in 4 matches looked like they had turned the corner but 6 defeats in a row followed, and the Blue Brazil were condemned to 10th place. Liam Buchannan top scorer with 6 goals.
Regression in the last 2 years could well mean that Cowdenbeath slip out of the league after another poor season. I fear the worst.