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Thursday 3rd August 2017

Ladbrokes League 1 - 2017/18 preview

Ayr United have impressed in the Betfred Cup and are expected to challenge for the Ladbrokes League 1 title along with bookies’ favourites Raith Rovers.

Ayr United have impressed in the Betfred Cup and are expected to challenge for the Ladbrokes League 1 title along with bookies’ favourites Raith Rovers.

Manager: TBC (Donald Jennow interim)
Title odds: 12/1
First two games: Forfar Athletic (A), Arbroath (H)
Airdrie finished third in League 1 last season and had the division’s top scorer in Andy Ryan but lost to Alloa on penalties in the play-off semi-final. The Diamonds recently parted company with manager Mark Wilson and director of football Gordon Dalziel and coach Donald Jennow have been taking the team. There are some talented youngsters in the Airdrie squad but their only new signing so far is Ross County defender David Brownlie.

Albion Rovers
Manager: Brian Kerr
Title odds: 50/1
First two games:  Ayr United (H), Queen’s Park (A)
Brian Kerr has stepped up from U20 coach following the departure of Darren Young and Rovers did very well in the Betfred Cup, drawing 4-4 with Hamilton and 2-2 at Queen of the South as they just missed out on a place in the last 16. Former Brechin forward Alan Trouten was joint-top scorer in the group stage with seven goals while Joao Victoria (East Kilbride), Sean Higgins (Clyde), Jason Marr (Alloa Athletic), Graeme Holmes (Alloa Athletic) and Graham Bowman (Stenhousemuir) have also been brought in.

Alloa Athletic
Manager: Jim Goodwin
Title odds: 11/2
First two games:  Raith Rovers (H), East Fife (A)
A penalty shoot-out defeat to Brechin City in the play-off final cost the Wasps an immediate return to the Championship but they are again fancied by the bookies for a top-four finish. It was a disappointing Betfred Cup campaign for Jim Goodwin’s men, who face an intriguing opener at home to Raith Rovers. Alan Cook (Stenhousemuir), Daryll Meggatt (Ayr United), Craig Malcolm (Stranraer), Kris Renton (Cowdenbeath), Garry Fleming (Dumbarton) and Thomas Grant (Stenhousemuir) have all joined this summer.

Manager: Dick Campbell
Title odds: 16/1
First two games: Queen’s Park (H), Airdrieonians (A)
Pipped local rivals Forfar Athletic to the League 2 title on the last day of the season after coming from a long way back, due in part to their outstanding away record. Held Ross County to a draw in the Betfred Cup on Saturday, before losing on penalties, and picked up six points overall. Have retained many of last year’s squad while Forfar trio Danny Denholm, Thomas O’Brien and Gavin Swankie are among the new recruits.

Ayr United
Manager: Ian McCall
Title odds: 2/1
First two games: Albion Rovers (A), Forfar Athletic (H)
Were six points adrift at the bottom of the Championship but have turned full-time this season and will expect to mount a serious title challenge. Ian McCall’s men were hugely impressive in the Betfred Cup, winning all four games and beating Kilmarnock to set up a last-16 tie away to Hibs. Andy Geggan and Michael Moffat have both returned to the club after spells with Dunfermline, while Chris Higgins (Queen of the South) is among the other new arrivals.

East Fife
Manager: Darren Young
Title odds: 16/1
First two games: Stranraer (A), Alloa Athletic (H)
A terrific run had East Fife in the play-offs at one point last season but they eventually finished fifth in the table. Barry Smith, who had replaced Gary Naysmith, moved to Raith Rovers in the summer and ex-Albion Rovers gaffer Darren Young is now at the helm. The Methil club installed an artificial surface at Bayview during the close season while new faces include Mark Docherty (Dumbarton), Craig Watson (Hamilton Accies) and Ben Gordon (St Mirren).

Forfar Athletic
Manager: Gary Bollan
Title odds: 25/1
First two games:  Airdrieonians (H), Ayr United (A)
An outstanding start had the Loons on course for the League 2 title for much of the season until a dip in form saw them overhauled by Arbroath but they recovered well to beat Annan and Peterhead impressively in the play-offs. Disappointing Betfred Cup campaign but will hope to hold their own in League 1. New boys are Scott McBride (Albion Rovers), Dylan Easton (Clyde), Mark Millar (Livingston), Ouzy See (Edinburgh City), Simon Mensing (Airdrie) and Marc McCallum (Plymouth).

Queen’s Park
Manager: Gus MacPherson
Title odds: 22/1
First two games: Arbroath (A), Albion Rovers (H)
Queen’s Park almost made the play-offs in their first season after promotion from League 2 but had to settle for sixth place in final standings, four points outside the top four. Solid and well-organised under Gus MacPherson, a lack of goals ultimately cost them. MacPherson has recruited heavily from the Junior market, with Chris Duff (Kirkintilloch Rob Roy) and David Green (Kilbirnie Ladeside) among the new faces and he has also brought in striker Thomas Orr from Morton.

Raith Rovers
Manager: Barry Smith
Title odds: 5/4 favourites
First two games:  Alloa Athletic (A), Stranraer (H)
Suffered a traumatic relegation via the play-offs, losing on penalties to Brechin, after a collapse in form despite making a bright start to the 2016/17 season. Rovers appointed East Fife boss Barry Smith as their new manager and he has brought in two prolific strikers in Greig Spence (Alloa Athletic) and Liam Buchanan (Livingston), as well as Euan Murray (Southport) and Aaron Lennox (Aberdeen). Beat Buckie Thistle and Cowdenbeath in the Betfred Cup but lost to Dundee and Dundee United.

Manager: Stevie Farrell
Title odds: 20/1
First two games: East Fife (H), Raith Rovers (A)
Stranraer looked in danger of the drop at one stage last season but they were transformed under new boss Stevie Farrell and were seventh in the end. Didn’t manage to pick up a point in the Betfred Cup but were in a tough section with Partick Thistle, St Mirren and Livingston. The Blues’ new signings include Tom Lang (Dumbarton), Paul Woods (East Kilbride), Morgyn Neill (Livingston), Jamie Hamill (Queen of the South) and Grant Anderson (Peterhead).

Odds supplied by Ladbrokes and are subject to change