Ladbrokes SPFL: How Rangers, Dunfermline and East Fife became champions
The Ladbrokes SPFL play-offs are currently providing drama, shocks, and plenty of goals – mostly courtesy of Stranraer. But as the best of the rest do battle in the hope of securing promotion, we take a look back to salute the three table-topping sides who have already done just that.
Here’s a look back at how Rangers, Dunfermline, and East Fife wrapped up their respective titles.
Rangers – Ladbrokes Championship
After play-off heartbreak against Motherwell at the end of last season and a change of manager, there were questions over whether Rangers could hit the ground running and win the title outright in 2015-16. 11 wins in a row to start the Championship season swept aside those doubts rather quickly.
During that sensational run, the Ibrox outfit netted an incredible 34 times, with striking sensation Martyn Waghorn scoring 12 times in the process, as they beat every side in the division.
A wobble in November and December caused some anxiety for ‘Gers fans, but their swashbuckling side returned to prominence with a 4-2 win over Hibs and a 6-0 triumph over Dumbarton, with Kenny Miller grabbing a hat-trick of coolly taken goals.
The Light Blues defence were the heroes in the latter months, though, as Warburton’s men conceded just one goal in seven games between January 25 and March 1, with an injury-time win against Falkirk the pick of the bunch.
Expect them to challenge at the top end of the Premiership next season, and we’ve already taken a flurry of bets on them winning the top-tier at 11/4.
For now though, the ‘Gers focus will be on the upcoming Scottish Cup final against Hibernian, with Warburton’s men 10/11 to win in 90 minutes, and 2/5 to lift the famous old trophy.
Dunfermline Athletic – Ladbrokes League 1
Last season’s seventh-placed finish shocked many who had tipped the Pars for promotion, and questions were raised at the beginning of this campaign about whether the Fife club could finally mount a realistic title challenge. They responded in spectacular fashion.
A 6-1 win at Brechin on the opening day was swiftly followed up by a 7-1 defeat of newly-relegated Cowdenbeath, with Moroccan hitman Faissal El Bakhtaoui netting four times in those two games – en route to 22 Ladbrokes League 1 goals for the season.
A brief wobble followed but was quickly rectified with an incredible run which saw the Pars lost just once in 26 games, with midfield magician Joe Cardle and the ice-cool El Bakhtaoui continually impressive.
A 2-0 victory over second-placed Ayr United and victory in Cowdenbeath all but wrapped up the title, which was confirmed with a 3-1 triumph over Brechin City at East End Park on March 26, as Allan Johnston’s men became the first senior team in Britain to win their league title.
With one of the biggest crowds in the lower leagues and a budget which has seen them secure some of Scottish football’s brightest young talents, expect them to finish in the top half of next season’s Ladbrokes Championship.
East Fife – Ladbrokes League 2
While Rangers and Dunfermline both demolished all in their wake, East Fife’s route to securing the Ladbrokes League 2 crown was rather less straightforward.
The Bayview club had only topped the table for two weeks before February and were sitting in sixth place at the midway point of this campaign.
However, a run of 11 wins in 14 games, propelled by League 2’s top scorer Nathan Austin, saw the Methil outfit surge to the top of the tree.
They did so in style, too. The 6-0 win over Stirling Albion and 2-0 triumph over high-flying Clyde were perhaps the side’s most impressive displays, though going 4-0 up in the first-half at Annan in January also takes some beating.
That run saw Gary Naysmith’s men wrap up the title with a week to spare, an incredible feat for a side who managed one win in 11 games heading into the New Year. A quite incredible stat to cap off a League Two campaign filled with surprises.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.