A dramatic three-way battle on the final day eventually saw Dundee winning the title for the first time in 16 years to seal an immediate return to the top flight. The Dees conceded just 26 goals in their 36 matches, the lowest tally of any champions since their own 1997-98 side, who conceded 24. That defensive organisation did come at the expense of their attack, though – with just 54 goals they were the lowest scoring champions since St Mirren (52) in 2005-06.
Paul Hartley’s side will be joined in the top flight by Hamilton Academical. The Accies became the first club to gain promotion to the top flight via play-offs since Dundee United in 1996-97. Their tally of 68 goals made them the top scorers in the division and also provided their most profitable season since netting 70 on their way to promotion from the Second Division a decade ago. The sensational 10-2 victory over Greenock Morton on the final day of the season equaled their biggest ever win, which came by the same score-line against Cowdenbeath in 1932.
Falkirk finished third in the division for the fourth consecutive season – prior to this run, they had never finished in the same spot more than twice in a row. Their haul of 38 home goals was their best since getting 46 at Brockville in their title winning season of 2002-03; likewise, their tally of 13 conceded at the Falkirk Stadium was the best since conceding just ten in the same season. The Bairns also equaled a club record of six consecutive clean sheets in the league between December and January.
Queen of the South finished fourth, the best placing of a newly promoted team since Gretna won the title in 2006-07. Their goal difference of +14 was their best in the second tier since the reconstruction into smaller divisions in 1975. Dumbarton’s fifth place finish was their best since 1986-87, when they came third. Ian Murray also guided the club to the Scottish Cup quarter-final for the first time since 1978-79. Livingston came in sixth, ending a run of four seasons of continual improvement, and their points tally of 46 was their lowest since 2007-08.
Challenge Cup success masked a disappointing season for Raith Rovers as they finished in seventh for the third time in five seasons since being promoted. Their tally of 33 goals conceded at home was their joint worst since being relegated from the top flight in 1997 and equal to the total conceded by Claude Anelka’s side in 2004-05. A small consolation perhaps, but Grant Murray’s side did finish as the top side in Fife for a second consecutive year. Alloa Athletic survived on the last day after Bob McHugh’s stoppage time goal for Queen of the South against Cowdenbeath – the Wasps’ eighth place finish (20th overall in the SPFL) was their best since coming in sixth (16th overall) in 1982-83. They scored just 15 goals at Recreation Park, equaling the 2005-06 Second Division campaign as their worst ever tally at home. A ninth place finish consigned Cowdenbeath to the play-offs but they emulated their success of 2009-10 and secured their place in next season’s Championship. The Blue Brazil only spent two seasons in the second tier between 1975 and 2012, but now they will play in the division for a third consecutive year.
The season proved to be an annus horribilis for relegated Greenock Morton who will return to the third tier for the first time since 2006-07. They managed just one away league win all season, their worst performance since the 1987-88 Premier Division season where they failed to win a single match on the road. Their 2-10 defeat to Hamilton on the final day was just the third time in history they have conceded double figures in a league match (with the other two coming before World War II.
Rangers dominated the division from start to finish, completing just the third unbeaten season in the history of Scottish league football. The first and second were achieved by Celtic in 1897-98 and Rangers in 1898-99, a time in which campaigns lasted just lasted 18 games. The Gers accumulated 102 points, smashing the record of 92 set by Queen of the South last year. They also broke the record for consecutive away wins in the third tier, recording 17 in a row before their final day draw with Dunfermline Athletic.
Dunfermline Athletic finished in second but missed out on promotion after losing the play-off final to Cowdenbeath – their second play-off final defeat in consecutive years. The Pars did manage their best goal tally since 1995-96 and found the net 68 times in their 36 matches. Stranraer finished in third position (25th overall), their highest league placing since coming ninth in the First Division in 2005-06. Their total of 57 goals was their best at this level since they scored 62 times on their way to winning the title in 1997-98. Ayr United occupied the final play-off spot but their failure to gain promotion means next year will be their ninth season out of 11 in this division. Matches at Somerset Park featured 72 goals, the joint best total in the SPFL along with Ibrox.
Stenhousemuir’s fifth place finish means that they will play in the third tier for a sixth consecutive season. They managed just five wins at home, equaling their worst total in a decade, but they did pick up seven wins away from home, their best tally since being promoted. The Warriors drew 12 matches this season, more than any other lower league side (last season they had the joint highest total with 13). It should therefore come as little surprise that they broke a club record by drawing five consecutive matches between January and February. They also created a bit of unwanted history at Ibrox in September: their 0-8 defeat equaled the worst losing margin in the history of the third tier.
Airdrieonians finished in sixth, equaling their lowest ever finish since their reincarnation in 2002. It was a season of two halves for the Diamonds – their 18 matches in 2013 yielded just 12 points (0.67 per game) but they went on to earn 33 points in their 18 games this year (1.83 per game). Had the season started on New Year’s Day, Gary Bollan’s side would have finished in second place. Forfar Athletic concluded in seventh following a patchy season which was perhaps most memorable for a League Cup win over Rangers. They lost eight matches at Station Park, their highest total since 2007-08, when they finished bottom of Third Division. Brechin City secured a ninth consecutive season in the third tier – more than any other side – after finishing in eighth place. They lost 11 times away from home, which was their first time in double figures since being relegated in 2005-06.
East Fife finished in ninth for a second time in a row, but this year they couldn’t save themselves via the play-offs and they will return to the bottom division for the first time since 2007-08. One of their biggest problems was a lack of goals at home: their tally of 15 at Bayview was their joint worst since they managed just nine goals in the top flight in 1973-74. Arbroath finished bottom and were relegated back to the bottom tier after three years. Their tally of 31 points was their poorest since 2002-03’s First Division season, when they picked up just 15 – this was also the last time they finished bottom of a league. The Red Lichties created a bit of unwanted history by becoming the first team to score more than 50 goals in the third tier and yet still be relegated.
Peterhead secured their first league win since joining the SFL in 2000 and in doing so, secured their return to the third tier after three seasons in the bottom league. Their only home defeat of the season came in their final match at Balmoor, when Stirling Albion came away with a 4-0 victory. That defeat ended a run of 20 home league matches unbeaten stretching from March 2013 to April 2014, which equaled the fourth tier record set by Gretna (April 2004-April 2005) and Alloa Athletic (over two spells in the division, Feb 1998-Jan 2012). The Blue Toon also impressed away from home – their haul of 37 goals on the road was their best in any season since joining the senior ranks.
Annan Athletic recorded their best finish (second) and their highest points tally (63) since joining the league, but they still missed out on promotion after being thumped in the play-offs. They also reached a third Challenge Cup semi-final in six seasons in the league, but suffered a 0-3 defeat for the third consecutive time. Third place Stirling Albion secured promotion via the play-offs after victories over Annan and East Fife, making this the sixth time in eight seasons that they have changed division. Their success was built on a strong home record – they suffered just three league defeats at Forthbank, their joint best tally since 1995-96.
Clyde’s fourth place finish was the first time they had finished outside the bottom two positions in their league since 2006-07, but their season finished on a low point with a penalty defeat to East Fife in the play-offs and the loss of their manager Jim Duffy to Greenock Morton. The Bully Wee’s away form was particularly impressive – their tally of eight away wins was their best since the 2003-04 season, when they narrowly missed out on promotion to the SPL. Fifth place Berwick Rangers just missed out on the play-offs despite recording their highest points tally (52) since winning the division in 2006-07. They scored 38 times at home this season, their joint highest haul in 20 years.
Montrose finished in sixth place for the second consecutive season, leaving them consigned to the bottom tier for 19 consecutive years. Albion Rovers’ seventh place finish was their lowest in six years but their season was still memorable for their run to the Scottish Cup quarter-final, their first appearance in the last eight for the first time since 1934. The vast majority of their points were picked up at Cliftonhill, where they made it into double figures for home wins for the first time since the 1988-89 season. East Stirlingshire had a strong start but fell away and eventually finished eighth, making this the tenth season out of 12 that they have finished in the bottom three. The Shire remain the only side to have played in the fourth tier in every single season since it was created in 1994.
Elgin City finished in ninth, their worst performance in five seasons, but they certainly couldn’t be accused of not providing entertainment for their fans. Their 36 league matches this season featured 135 goals (3.75 per game), more than any other side in the SPFL. In addition, their last goalless draw at Borough Briggs was came against Montrose in August 2005, a whopping 181 games ago. Queen’s Park finished bottom of the bottom division for just the second time in their history – the other came in the 2001-02 season. Their tally of 24 points was their worst since 1982-83, when they picked up 23 points in the First Division – but that was under two points for a win. If their past seasons are converted to three points for a win then this year was their worst since their last season in the top flight (back in 1957-58) where they would have picked up just 13.
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