There was hard work, grit and plenty of skill in Ladbrokes League 2 during 2015-16, as East Fife wrapped up the title, but Annan Athletic’s free-scoring forwards and Queen’s Park’s robust defence also impressed.
Even for the sides who struggled, there were bright lights – like Arbroath’s Ricky Little. Here are the XI who made the cut, and why.
GK: Chris Smith (Stirling Albion)
Despite struggling somewhat for goals, Albion avoided a relegation battle thanks to the best defensive record outside of the top four, and Smith was a key part of that achievement. He managed nine clean sheets during this Ladbrokes League 2 campaign, as well as keeping Inverness at bay in a Scottish Cup tie. Impressive.
RB: Scott Mercer (East Fife)
The 20-year-old has burst onto the scene since arriving from Fife rivals Dunfermline Athletic last summer, featuring in all 36 of the club’s League 2 games. A tricky and talented full-back, he also showed an eye for goal with a superb strike in September’s 4-1 win at Montrose.
CB: Ricky Little (Arbroath)
The fact that ninth-placed Arbroath conceded fewer goals than Annan in fifth is a testament to the ability and leadership of Little. He led them to seven clean sheets in his 33 games, including shutouts against champions East Fife and third-placed Clyde. Little also chipped in with a surprise winner at Broadwood in March.
CB: Ryan McGeever (Queen’s Park)
The standout performer in the league’s meanest defence, Little’s former defensive partner at Gayfield catapulted his new employers to promotion in 2015-16. The 22-year-old starred in the New Year, as the club conceded just four goals in 10 games with McGeever in the side, though a 91st-minute winner over his old club may be his most memorable contribution.
RB: Scott Linton (Clyde)
Nerves don’t seem to be an issue for the Bully Wee man, who netted 12 times in all competitions last season – including seven from the penalty spot. That in itself is an impressive record, but when you add Linton’s pace and guile into the mix, then you have one of the League’s most outstanding performers.
LM: Matt Flynn (Annan Athletic)
It’s no surprise that Flynn’s displays last season attracted suitors, with Barry Ferguson snapping the midfield magician ahead of next season. And Annan’s loss is Clyde’s gain, with the tricky 28-year-old striking 12 times during the most recent Ladbrokes League 2 campaign.
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CM: Jon-Paul McGovern (Clyde)
The former Swindon Town man may be advancing in years, but even in the twilight of his career, there are no signs of the 35-year-old losing his golden touch. An intelligent player adept at reading the game, the veteran midfielder has proved a useful acquisition.
CM: Brian Cameron (Elgin City)
Following an injury-plagued couple of years, City’s marbellous (sorry!) midfield man has returned in style this season – stronger and more effective than ever before. Netting 11 strikes from midfield, he’s been the toast of Borough Briggs, and as effective defensively as he is coming forward. A truly special player.
CM: Dylan Easton (Elgin City)
Confident, skilful and tirelessly energetic, Easton proved a nightmare for opposition defenders, with the diminutive midfielder proving a superb foil for the more established Cameron. As with Flynn, the 22-year-old has joined the Bully Wee this summer, with the Cumbernauld outfit certainly looking strong ahead of next season.
RM: Kyle Wilkie (East Fife)
While the impressive goalscoring feats of teammate Nathan Austin were making the headlines, the creative Wilkie remained the toast of Methil – picking up the Player of the Year crown for the Fife outfit, following nine goals and 11 assists in League 2. Austin – and the Bayview faithful – have much to thank him for.
CF: Nathan Austin (East Fife)
With 22 goals and six assists, it’s fair to say few were surprised when Austin won the Ladbrokes League 2 Player of the Season award. Bought by Falkirk in January, this immense talent was loaned back to the Fifers, and led them to the title, with hat-tricks at Stirling Albion and Montrose two of the highlights.
The 22-year-old also scored against Motherwell in the League Cup, showing that he can mix it with the country’s very best. Can anyone match – or even surpass – Austin’s feats in Ladbrokes League 2 next season?
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.