SFSA Championship review

Date: 1st June 2015

A comprehensive victory for Hearts, play-off heartbreak for Rangers and Hibs, relegation for Cowdenbeath and a dramatic survival for Alloa. Here is the SFSA’s take on an unforgettable Championship season, writes Ben Ramage.

ALLOA ATHLETIC: Consigned to the relegation play-offs by Livingston’s surprise win over Queens, the Wasps looked in trouble when they lost the first leg to Forfar 3-1. They managed to turn it around in the return fixture at the Indodrill Stadium, despite going down to 10 men, thanks to goals from Michael Chopra, Liam Buchanan and Daryll Meggatt that clinched a vital 3-0 victory.

COWDENBEATH: A season to forget for the Blue Brazil, whose play was unfortunately not so Brazilian as they finished at the foot of the table. Gaffer Jimmy Nicholl subsequently resigned, leaving the Central Park hotseat worryingly vacant as they look to rebuild and bounce back from League One.

DUMBARTON: The Sons managed to just about avoid the relegation battle at the bottom of the table, but went out early from both the League and Scottish Cup competitions. New manager Stevie Aitken will need to put in some work to push up the table next season.

FALKIRK: A league challenge was always going to be difficult for the Bairns given the opposition, but this was offset by their fantastic Scottish Cup run, which saw them beat Hibs in the semi’s before narrowly losing out to Caley in the Final.

HEARTS: A recording breaking season for the Jambos, who cantered to the league title despite Rangers being branded favourites at the start of the season. From the brink of administration to champions of the Championship, Hearts will be looking to push on next season with a top-six finish the target for Robbie Neilson’s rejuvenated side.

HIBERNIAN: A poor start cost Hibs in the league, but Alan Stubbs managed to turn it around and they only narrowly lost out to Rangers in the play-offs after finishing above the Glasgow side in the league table. More Scottish Cup heartache, losing out to Falkirk in the semi-finals. Will have another battle on their hands against Rangers next season, but will fancy their chances of a
top-two finish with Hearts out of the picture.

LIVINGSTON: Looked set for the drop all season before a late rally which saw them draw with Rangers and then beat promotion play-off qualifiers Queen of the South on the last day to clinch survival. Many were somewhat surprised that Mark Burchill was not a contender for Manager of the Year, so he will look to build upon this seasons turnaround next term.

RAITH ROVERS: A middling league campaign at Stark’s, but a strong performance in the Scottish Cup, which saw them reach the quarter-finals before losing to eventual winners Caley. A lack of goals and a leaky defence ultimately cost the club, but will be hoping to do better next season.

RANGERS: A disappointing end to the season for Rangers, in particular never really challenging Hearts and losing out in the Final round of the play-offs to Motherwell after dispatching Queen of the South and Hibs. McCall made a big difference after replacing McCoist, and the Ibrox side would be strong favourites for the title next season should he be charged with continuing the good work he did towards the end of the season.

QUEEN OF THE SOUTH: A great season for the Doonhamers, which would likely have seen them challenging for the title were there not three giants of Scottish football also in the same league. A great brand of football saw them narrowly lose out to Rangers in the play-offs, and make the Scottish Cup quarter-finals. Should challenge for promotion again next season.

There we have it. The penultimate part of our season review feature for SPFL clubs this season. Keep an eye out for the final installment looking at Premiership clubs’ season.

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