Falkirk’s slow start to the 2019/20 campaign and the global pandemic resulting in the season being ended early meant that Falkirk would need to have one more crack at promotion back to the Championship from League 1. Co-managers David McCracken and Lee Miller turned the fortunes of the Bairns when they were appointed to replaced Ray McKinnon. The success of last season has continued on into this year’s shortened league. Losing a player like Declan McManus was always going to be difficult but despite him leaving, Falkirk sit on top of the table when the season was suspended. However, having won 6 of their opening 8 (drawing the other 2), Falkirk have not won in the last 3 with defeats to Airdrie and East Fife meaning the gap is just 2 points to second placed Cove Rangers. Before the league suspension, the transfer window would have surely given McCracken and Miller a chance to add to the squad to further boost their chances of winning League 1, and to turn around the poor form they were currently in.
With just 1 win and 3 draws in their 10 matches this season, Forfar sit at the bottom of League 1. Forfar lost a number of key players at the end of last season and it would seem had recruited well with players like Scott Shepherd, Archie Thomas and Chris Antoniazzi coming in, but they haven’t performed well enough to get the Station Park side’s season going. Starting with no wins in the opening 5 (2 draws and 3 defeats), The Loons got their first win in a 1-0 win at Balmoor against Peterhead. Stuart Malcom would have thought that this may have kicked started the clubs season but since that win they have failed to score in the next 4, losing 3 and picking up a 0-0 draw away to Montrose. With just 5 goals in their 10 matches, you fear that that sort of form will end up with a relegation for Forfar. The positive is that they don’t concede many (16 conceded in 10), and if they can build on the defensive side, they could do enough to get them out of the bottom 2.
Montrose, since promotion to League 1 3 years ago, have established themselves as one of the top sides in the division with back-to-back 4th placed finishes. Despite having Partick Thistle, Cove Rangers, Airdrie and Falkirk in the same league, Montrose will be confident they can achieve a similar finish this year. Loan signings of Harry Cochrane, Chris Mochrie and Cammy Ballantyne added to an already experienced squad, and this mix of youth and experience has gone well so far for The Gable Endies. They started with no wins in 2 before winning the next two 3-2 against Forfar and Peterhead, before losing at Clyde by the same score line. Montrose had a tricky run next as they played against 3 of their promotion rivals in Partick Thistle, Cove and Airdrie, but despite losing to Partick narrowly, they then went to Cove and Airdire and won both matches. This was followed up by a thumping 4-0 win against Dumbarton. With the 3rd worst defence in the league but also being top scorers, Montrose should be there or there abouts again at the end of the season.
Partick, like Falkirk last season, has failed to adapt to the lower division and failed to live up to their fans expectation of bouncing straight back up again. With just 4 wins from 10, Thistle sit outside the play-off spots and 6 points from league leaders Falkirk. Ian McCall brought in experienced players like Richard Foster and Blair Spittal, but surprisingly the later hasn’t seen much action this term. One win in the opening 4 for Thistle wasn’t good enough for a team that was looking for promotion straight away, but two wins on the bounce followed against East Fife and Montrose, and some thought the tide was turning slightly. However, a second run of one win in 4, including a home defeat to Peterhead has seen Thistle slip down the table. The Jags failed to score in 3 of those matches too. Before the suspension, manager Ian McCall may have been worrying about his future, especially as his side were to play Cove, Clyde and Airdirein the next 3 fixtures. Perhaps the suspension has come at the right time for Partick, should the season restart.
With 8 departures from the Peterhead squad before the season started, many of them key first team players, manager Jim McInally brought in younger, untested players like Kieran Freeman, Lyall Cameron and Kyle Bailey to replace them. The key, however, was keeping players like Jason Brown, Ben Armour and captain Scott Brown. McInally has been hampered by injuries to many players this season and has yet to field a full bench. In their first 4, The Blue Toon picked up one win and 3 defeats, even though Peterhead didn’t particularly play badly in those loses. They did manage to turn it around with 3 wins from the next 5, but a narrow 1-0 loss to Forfar shows Peterhead are still too inconsistent to be challenging for a play-off spot. Beating Clyde and Partick Thistle away from home is all well and good, but then dropping home points to the likes of Montrose and Forfar won’t help. McInally has already added to his squad with Andrew McDonald and Niah Payne arriving at Balmoor before the suspension. Much needed fresh faces for Peterhead if the season starts again.