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PLZ Soccer sat down with regular contributor and Scottish Lower League icon Ally Graham to preview this season’s Cinch Championship.

Will Dundee United bounce back to the top flight under Jim Goodwin? Can Partick Thistle shake their play off heartbreak from last season? Are new boys Dunfermline or Airdrieonians set to be the surprise package of the division?



Last Season: 3rd in League One (Promoted via Play Offs)

“I think Airdrieonians might find it difficult with the step up, although they’ve done well in the Viaplay Cup. They’ve added Nikolay Todorov at centre forward and the manager has went and got a couple of guys on loan from St Mirren in Dean McMaster and Elliot Dunlop.”

“Last season they were always good for over 2-and-a-half goals and teams could score against them as well. I’m not going to say they’re going to set the world on fire but I think they’ll cement their place in the league this season.”


Last Season: 8th

“Dick Campbell has always got something up his sleeve, especially up at Gayfield it’s a very, very difficult place to go. They’ve kept the base of their team and added Leighton McIntosh but I don’t think that they score enough goals.”

“A couple of seasons ago we all thought they were going to win the Championship at one point when they were soaring away. Last season they struggled and I just think this season might be a step too far.”

Ayr United 

Last Season: 2nd

“I was very surprised to see Dipo Akinyemi depart for York City and I was very surprised the way the season ended for them last year. It’s whether Ayr United can replace a guy with that many goals this year.”

“They need to keep Aiden McGeady fit as well. That’s a fantastic signing if he can play and of course they have Jamie Murphy. They’ll be supplying ammunition for whoever it is that’s playing up top. I think it’s very important this season that teams get guys in that can score goals.”

Dundee United 

Last Season: 12th (Relegated from the Premiership)

“Can they bounce straight back? This is the big question about Dundee United. Jim Goodwin didn’t get off to the best of starts in the Viaplay League Cup. If you’re coming down from the Premiership, I think you have to go out and win your first few games.”

“I think Dundee United will be there or their abouts this season. They’ve made a good signing in Declan Gallagher to shore up the defence. I also think Louis Moult, if he can stay fit, will bang in the goals. Ross Docherty has already been made skipper, he’s a decent signing from Partick Thistle as he’s been over the course in this division before.”

“Everybody expects them to bounce straight back but that’s not easy in this championship.”

Dunfermline Athletic

Last Season: 1st (Promoted from League One)

“Michael O’Halloran is definitely a good signing, he likes the ball played over the top so I don’t know what James McPake’s tactics are going to be this season. I’ve heard him say that he doesn’t have enough talkers on the park.”

“I think they’ll do ok. I think with their supporters behind them, if they get a few decent results they can build a lot of confidence and if they get another couple of people in the door then I think it’ll help them.”

Greenock Morton

Last Season: 5th

“I thought they might have reached the playoffs last season but they just fell at the last couple of hurdles. I think Dougie Imrie did really well with them and he had them really well organised. I think teams will find it difficult at Cappielow but they’re not a team that really excites me.”

“They’ve got bags and bags of experience with Kirk Broadfoot coming in. He’s played at the top level for Rangers and he can tighten up that defence and help the younger guys around him. They’ll be a team that’s difficult to beat but it’s the case again can they accumulate enough points at the other end of the park.”

Inverness Caledonian Thistle

Last Season: 6th

“Inverness are one of those teams that aren’t consistent enough for me. I know they’ve been through some tough times in recent seasons and getting to the Scottish Cup Final last year was an great achievement. Billy Dodds has done well with them and he can attract some good young players in former Liverpool winger Luis Longstaff and Adam Brooks from Celtic.”

“Last season they fell away when they should have pushed on and progressed. I think it’s going to be the same this season, I don’t think they’ll be up their challenging.”

Partick Thistle

Last Season: 4th

“I think they have to move on from last season. I’ve spoken to a few people involved there and they’ve had a couple of first team players moved on and they’re giving youth a chance. They still have their talisman Brian Graham up top. They also have Aiden Fitzpatrick on the wing. I really like him I think he’s a fantastic player and for they have the best player in the division in Steven Lawless.”

“I think they’re brilliant at Firhill and they really surprised me in the Playoff’s last year when I thought they were going to do it. They’re definitely exciting going forward with the addition of Tomi Adeloye. I think they’ve started really well, going up and showing Dundee United that they aren’t going to get it all they’re own way when it comes to league this season. I don’t see any reason why they can’t be up there and get into the top four.”

Queen’s Park

Last Season: 3rd

“I believe they’re using a player data system where they analyse the players in training and how they adapted to opponents when they’ve met previously. I think that goes into player selection which will be used by Robin Veldman. It’s a model that I never thought a Scottish team would use and my only argument would be that a data system doesn’t tell a centre forward how to put the ball in the net or tell a defender how to clear the ball off the line, there’s still a lot of human error in there.”

“They’ve got a fantastic player in Dom Thomas and I think the masterstroke this season is signing Ruari Paton up the top end. I think he’ll get plenty of chances this year and could maybe even surpass his impressive record at Queen of the South last season.”

“I think they’ll be dangerous this season and I’m expecting big things from them, I’m just not quite buying into this player data system but if it works for them…then I’m a dinosaur!”

Raith Rovers

Last Season: 7th

“I think it’s time that they stepped up and I think they have to improve this season and show under Ian Murray that they’re the real deal. They’ve been in the Championship for too long and I think they should be trying to aim for the Playoffs and see where it takes them.”

“I really like the goalkeeper Kevin Dabrowski I think he look’s fantastic so I think he’s recruited well. If Ian Murray can get the fans onside and just keep picking up points every quarter then I think they can get into the top four.”

Ally Graham’s Final Predictions

Winners: Dundee United

Relegated: Arbroath (but it’ll be tight)

Playoff Contenders: Queen’s Park, Partick Thistle, Ayr United, Raith Rovers