The 2016-17 Ladbrokes League 2 campaign produced one dramatic twist after another, as Arbroath and Forfar Athletic endured an epic tussle for top spot, while a competitive battle for the play-off spots kept things exciting further down the division.
It’s Peterhead who are 7/5 favourites to win League 2 this term, but after two very close title wins in succession – by the Red Lichties and East Fife respectively – you’d be wrong to assume they’ll saunter to the title…especially with Clyde involved.
Here’s our verdict on the 10 sides in contention this season.
Despite a valiant push which saw the Galabankies reach the promotion play-offs last term, it’s unlikely they’ll be as strong this term. The loss of manager Jim Chapman to the Bully Wee is a significant one, while their leaky defence remains a concern. A relegation battle looks unlikely, but so does another top-four tilt.
Title Odds: 12/1
Manager John Coughlin told Ladbrokes News that his summer transfer business could give the Borders club a “competitive edge” this term, and we’re inclined to agree.
After a disappointing 2016-17, they’ve added a host of exciting loanees from Premiership sides, as well as boosting their midfield with Elgin ace Keiran Stewart. Expect them to be in or around the play-off places this term.
Title Odds: 22/1
For once, the Cumbernauld club aren’t market favourites for the title – but in our view, everything points to the Bully Wee finally finishing top.
The addition of a top-class manager in Chapman, an eye-catching League Cup defeat of Championship Dumbarton and signings like St Mirren’s Jordan Stewart all combine to point to this being their year. And they look generously priced for it…
Title Odds: 9/2
The last few years have been hard on Cowden fans, with two successive relegations followed by a narrow triumph in their nail-biting play-off against Lowland League East Kilbride last term.
Stopping the rot and bringing in a new manager in Billy Brown could offer the Blue Brazil a lift, but losing the likes of Kris Renton this summer could hit hard. We’re expecting another difficult season for the Fife club.
Title Odds: 12/1
After early season struggles last time out, the Citizens got to grips with this division after a few months. While they’re unlikely to be up at the top in 2017-18, retaining the likes of Josh Walker and Craig Beattie points to a season of stability in the capital.
Title Odds: 18/1
Shane Sutherland’s cruciate injury in March halted the Moray club’s viable title push, and getting the prolific hitman back to full fitness as soon as possible is key if they’re to be strong again.
Having added experienced performers like Jon-Paul McGovern and retained last season’s key men, backers are likely to get a good run for their money from Jim Weir’s high-scoring side.
Title Odds: 9/1
The Gable Endies managed nine points more in 2016-17 than the previous campaign, and there’s a sense that Stewart Petrie is building something special.
With players like Sean Dillon and Chris Templeman boasting top-tier experience, chances are Montrose will handle the business end of the season better than anyone around them. Another play-off berth beckons.
Title Odds: 10/1
They may have beaten Heart of Midlothian in the League Cup last week, but experience tells us not to read too much into a good start for the Blue Toon, who tend to start strong and then slump, year after year.
Star striker Rory McAllister is certain to score regularly, while the likes of Paul Cairney and Nicky Riley offer class in midfield, so they’re certainly title contenders. But at 7/5 to lift the trophy, we think there’s far better value elsewhere.
Title Odds: 7/5
Stenny will hope their League Cup form doesn’t carry on into the season, with the Ochilview club left red-faced by a home defeat to EK on Tuesday. But Brown Ferguson’s men are likely to pick up before long.
Having taken 10 points off league favourites Peterhead in the pair’s four meetings last term, there’s no doubt they can beat the division’s strongest sides – but they need to sort out a very patchy home record if they’re to get straight back up.
Title Odds: 4/1
Sixth-placed last time out, there’s a fair chance they’ll climb the table this season, with a largely new backline in place, following the acquisition of guys like Steven Noble (signed from Peterhead), Ewan McNeil (Clyde) and Lee Hamilton (Berwick).
Having gone on a six-game winning run during the Spring, which was quickly followed by a four-match winless streak, finding consistency is the key here. Do that, and they’ll look very good value at 12/1 to finish top of the pile.
Title Odds: 12/1
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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing