The Ladbrokes Championship threw up one unforgettable game after another in 2015-16, from Raith Rovers’ 3-3 thriller against Rangers to Morton’s 3-0 demolition of Hibernian at Easter Road – their first league win there since October 1982.
And there were plenty of stars on show to produce great goals, stunning saves and tough tackles in every game, from Livingston to Leith. Here are the XI who made it into the Ladbrokes Championship Team of the Season, and how they earned that spot.
GK: Kevin Cuthbert (Raith Rovers)
The veteran keeper has been an ever-present for Rovers this season, as Ray McKinnon’s men made the Ladbrokes Premiership play-offs, with the 33-year-old stopper keeping 10 clean sheets along the way. Rovers had conceded 65 times during the 2014-15 Championship season, but let in just 46 on Cuthbert’s watch.
LB: Luke Leahy (Falkirk)
Transformed from a midfield back-up into a superb full-back by Bairns boss Peter Houston, the 23-year-old proved himself defensively solid and a major threat on the flanks. Leahy chipped in with several goals and assists along the way – none more important than his thunderous strike in the 3-2 play-off win over Hibs.
CB: Paul Hanlon (Hibernian)
The experienced Hanlon helped the Easter Road outfit secure the joint-best defensive record in last season’s Ladbrokes Championship, conceding just 34 times. He led the Edinburgh side to 14 shutouts during this campaign and netted a winner against Rangers in November to boost his hero status with the Cabbage faithful.
CB: Lewis Toshney (Raith Rovers)
The 24-year-old knows Scotland like the back of his hand by now, having spent the last six seasons at as many different clubs. However, he settled instantly into the Kirkcaldy club’s defence, proving himself a versatile, committed player with good game-reading skills.
RB: James Tavernier (Rangers)
Ten goals in 36 games would be a solid return for a striker, but when their full-back is chipping in with that many strikes, it’s easy to see why Rangers were the division’s highest scorers by a 27-goal margin. A great crosser of the ball, the former Wigan Athletic man also provided a mammoth 18 assists along the way. Sensational.
— SPFL (@spfl) May 26, 2016
CM: John McGinn (Hibernian)
Voted the Ladbrokes Championship Player of the Season for 2015-16, the tricky young Glaswegian showed himself a master of both tough-tackling and creative flair. A big-game player, he also scored in the 2-0 home play-off victory against Raith Rovers and boasts an extremely bright future.
CM: Liam Henderson (Hibernian)
The 20-year-old midfield magician will be heading home to parent club Celtic with his reputation greatly enhanced, after a hugely impressive campaign with the Cabbage. Henderson’s boundless energy, set-piece prowess, and eye for goal made him a fan favourite at Easter Road, and could well do the same at Parkhead next season.
CM: Jason Holt (Rangers)
From one young midfield star with Celtic and Hibs ties to another with links to clubs on the other side of the Glasgow and Edinburgh divides. The 23-year-old showcased his impressive range of passing and a maturity beyond his years. 12 goals in all competitions also did no to harm his chance of making the cut in this line-up.
RAM: Blair Alston (Falkirk)
Alston’s attacking flair has seen him snapped up by Ladbrokes Premiership outfit St Johnstone, but he leaves his boyhood club having lit up the Falkirk Stadium. He struck 12 times in all competitions from his position on the right of midfield during 2015-16, causing nightmares for opponents with his superb technique.
CF: Martyn Waghorn (Rangers)
The 20-goal haul which made Waghorn the top scorer in last season’s Ladbrokes Championship is impressive enough, without taking into account the games he missed due to injury – featuring just 25 times. Along the way, he notched up five doubles and a hat-trick at Morton. Gers fans will be hoping he can replicate that sort of goalscoring form in the top-flight.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.