Summary of last season – Champions of League Two and promotion, what else can you say? Despite winning the league last year it wasn’t always easy. The year started poorly and Peterhead were actually in a run of pretty bad form during the early stages of last season. Then it all changed and there was no looking back. Jim McInally guided to side to the top of the league during December and they stayed there for the remained of the season. Of course having a goal scorer like Rory McAllister helps and his record of over 30 league goals last campaign was phenomenal. Peterhead won their first ever SPFL title last season and they managed to thrive in a league that unlike the previous year had no Rangers.
Players in – Jamie Stevenson (Cowdenbeath), Reece Donaldson (Raith Rovers),
Players out – Conner McGlinchey (Free), Kevin Buchan (Arbroath), Ryan McGeever (End of Loan)
What they still need – Jim McInally seems happy with his squad and has only made a couple of additions this summer. The Peterhead team does look settled and McInally believes that the majority of his title winning side could do a job in League One. Much will depend on the team avoiding injuries and suspensions as the squad is pretty tight. Plus if anything was to happen to Peterhead’s prolific strike force they might be in trouble.
Key player(s) – It goes without saying that Rory McAllister is the key man for Peterhead. It isn’t a one man show but if you score over 30 goals in a season at any level it makes the difference. McAllister knows himself he could be playing at a higher level but he has also been open about the fact that he is happy in part-time football due to his work commitments. He will undoubtedly be the key to anything Peterhead do this season. One other player it is worth keeping an eye on is new signing Jamie Stevenson. A very talented and now very well-travelled midfielder he could be the provider for the Blue Toon’s strikers this year.
Opinion on Peterhead – The step up between League Two and League One isn’t a massive one but it might be big enough to cause Peterhead some headaches this season. Jim McInally is banking on his side to carry on from where they left off and that could go either way. There is no doubt that if McAllister and his striking partner Andy Rodgers hit form then they will cause every side problems but there might be a slight over reliance on the strikers. There is quality elsewhere in the team but if the goals dry up then they might be up against it.
Prediction for this season – 8th
Summary of last season – It was another season of “almost there” for Stenny last year. They finished the campaign bang in mid-table and agonisingly close to the final playoff spot. They are making a habit of that and it was another season where for parts of it they looked capable enough to push ahead into the top four. However they also had a bad side that cost them dearly. A team that could score goals but also concede it was a season of ups and downs and of managerial changes. Martyn Corrigan started the season in charge but was dismissed in January. Brown Ferguson was placed in temporary charge before Scott Booth arrived at the club to see out the season. So close to the playoffs but not quite there, it was a season of frustration for Stenhousemuir.
Players in – Ross Meechan (Partick Thistle), Kieran Millar (Hamilton Academical), Martin Grehan (Stranraer), Alan Lithgow (Ayr United), Gregor Fotheringham (East Fife), Colin McMenamin (Celtic Nation), Paul-Jon Sludden (Stirling University), Ryan Millar (Stirling University), Jamie Reid (Loan, Dundee), Jack Hamilton (Loan, Hearts).
Players out – Sean Higgins (Cowdenbeath), Kevin McKinlay (Ayr United), Darren Smith (Stirling Albion), John Gemmell (Albion Rovers), Ross McNeil (Albion Rovers), Paul Brennan (East Stirlingshire), Nicky Devlin (Ayr United), Ross Brash (Free), Eddie Malone (Free), Sean Lynch (Free), Errol Douglas (Spartans), Kris Faulds (End of Loan), Christopher Banks (Free), Scott Buist (Free), Charles Docherty (Free), Gregor Dryden (Free), Salim Kouider-Aissa (Free)
What they still need – This is a team that has undergone a few changes since last season and Booth has had to make a number of signings. The squad is still missing a few extra bodies and it is lacking in the middle of the park. They need a couple of players in there to hold everything together. Elsewhere in the team there are options available but Stenny fans are still keen for another couple of signings to try to push the team forward.
Key player(s) – Fans will be delighted that one of last year’s top performers has stayed at the club. Goalkeeper Chris Smith put on some fantastic displays last year and was one of the division’s best goalkeepers. With a number of changes elsewhere in the team it is good for Stenny to have a reliable numb one. Sitting just in front of Smith is defender Stewart Greacen and he is another key player in this Stenhousemuir squad. Arriving in January he showed his worth in the second half of the season with some reliable and solid displays at the back. Players that can hold it together at the back like Smith and Greacen are invaluable.
Opinion on Stenny – It seems as though Stenhousemuir have been stuck in a cycle of ups and downs for a few seasons now. They have been knocking on the door of the playoffs and promotion but never seem to be able to cross that finishing line. Scott Booth has got the opportunity now to put his stamp on this squad and he has had a summer of signings and pre-season under his belt. Fans will be desperate for the team to finally put it right but it remains to be seen if Booth’s signings and tactics will pay off in the long run but it does look like this might be another season of those ups and downs.
Prediction for this season – 5th