Despite having made it from the Lowland League all the way to the Championship, our board were still reluctant to give us much money to spend in order to push even further forward. However we have made do until now, and have done again. Andrew O’Kane agreed to join for free from Aberdeen and was followed in on the same day by youth prospecy John Ewen from Aidrie. Stuart Clarkson arrived from Forfar for £3,000 to give us an option at AMC and 4 more players arrived for free: Johnny Millar, Jack Hadden, Jamie Wilson and Liam Craig.
As usual the end of the season signalled the end of some our players time at the club when their contracts expired. All players were offered new deals, but all rejected as I wasn’t prepared to give them the wage hikes they wanted due to lack of funds or because I felt they didn’t merit the extra wage.
The first round of the Challenge Cup turned out to be a routine victory as we looked to retain our crown. A Jamie Frost penalty just under half an hour into the game got us going with Conner Duthie doubling our lead just 6 minutes later and we never looked back. Completely in control, Stuart Clarkson added a 3rd with a minute to go and we progressed to the next round.
We would face Clyde in the second round and again dominated the game however Clyde’s organisation was impressive it has to be said. They kept us at bay until the 88th minute when Conner Duthie nodded home to put us in the lead. He added his and our second in injury time to seal the victory and send us to the third round.
The third round would be the end of the road as we faced a Raith Rovers side who were high on morale having been on a good league run at the time. They went ahead after 19 minutes through Grant Mckenzie’s relatively easy finish from close range and added another when James Smith latched onto an underhit backpass to slot home. We pulled one back late on however never looked like winning this one.
In the League Cup we would play East Stirlingshire, the team we beat in the Playoff to get into League 2. We raced into a 2-0 lead and after thinking we would go on to win comfortably, I was proven wrong. They fought back in the second half with a goal after 49 minutes to make it 2-1. Conner Duthie sealed the hat trick in the 65th minute to make it comfortable again however just 3 minutes later it became uncomfortable once more after Kai Wilson grabbed his second of the game to make it 3-2. It did finish that way however as we progressed to the second round.
Kilmarnock were our Second Round opponents in literally the most dull game I have ever watched, nothing happened. It went all the way to penalties where we were victorious and would go through to the third round where for the first time we would face one of the Old Firm.
It would be the blue side of Glasgow that we would face and despite being widely expected to be blown away, we held our own and clung onto just a 1-0 defeat at Ibrox. In all honesty it could’ve been more but either way, we were out of the League Cup.
Berwick Rangers would be between us and the 4th round and we had to fight hard for the victory. Ross Matthews bagged the only goal of the game to give us a 1-0 win.
Queens Park were up next and after Jamie Frost’s early opener we were hoping to go on and get a few more. It didn’t turn out that way but we did manage to get another late on through Stuart Clarkson to give us a comfortable 2-0 victory.
After having avoided Rangers and Celtic until this season we faced Rangers twice this term, the first ended in a 1-0 defeat and the second had much the same outcome. We were dominated throughout the game with Rangers keeping the ball and stretching us out and we couldn’t really deal with it. Jason Holt gave them the lead before Michael O’Halloran added a second late on to give the away side a 2-0 win.
After just missing out on the Playoffs last season we were hoping to go one better this term and we went a good way towards that by losing only 5 games before the New Year. After losing both of our opening games there was some concern that we had gone backwards rather than forwards however we pulled together to get some points on the board soon after.
Having played 2 less games than we had at this stage last term, we had just one point less and were a place higher. Sitting in 4th place with a game in hand over Dumbarton and Partick Thistle put us in a very good position looking towards the tail end of the season. Could we hang on?
One Game To Go
Form had dipped slightly compared to that of the form in November/December but we were still grinding out some decent results. We had one game left to play against Dunfermline, and you’ll see why I have left that out…
Despite the dip in form, we were joint TOP of the table with Dumbarton with an inferior goal difference. A win over Dunfermline could potentially see us win the title however a draw or defeat could see us slip all the way out of the Playoffs completely!!
It really was very tight and the last game of the season would be intense, but how did it go?
We managed to hold onto our lead after Liam Craig put us ahead after 25 minutes to get the win. We had done all we could do and were guaranteed at least a Playoff place now because we had won..
WE WON THE LEAGUE!!
Dumbarton actually drew their game and dropped to 3rd in the table behind Raith Rovers and ourselves.
We set out at the start of the season to go one better than what we managed last term and we outdone that by winning the division and gaining automatic promotion to the Premiership. Truly remarkable.
End of Season News
After gaining promotion to the Ladbrokes Premiership the board eventually decided to turn the club fully professional! A big step forward as we looked to cement our place in the Premiership.
At the end of the season we experience yet another takeover, placing an embargo on transfers for part of the summer window meaning I missed out on a couple of targets I had in mind unfortunately. But nonetheless, we had another new owner.
I received this message shortly after the new chairman had taken his position, and it didn’t look good. He told me that it was always his intention to appoint a new manager after the takeover had been completed which baffled me considering how far I had brought the club thus far.
Thankfully, he changed his mind. The support for me from the fans made him rethink replacing me and I would still be in charge going into the new season. Our first season in the Ladbrokes Premiership.
We look to stay up, whether that be through winning the relegation play-off or avoiding it all completely I’m not fussed. Hopefully this is achievable however with close to no money available to us to spend, it is going to be tough.
Thank you all for reading and I will see you all soon!
Despite another takeover and promotion to the top flight we still weren’t fiven much money to play with in terms of a transfer budget so again had to hunt for bargains. I feel we did well in that regard however bringing in experienced goalkeeper Zander Clark as well as a new centre back in Cameron Eadie. We spent £24,000 on a new striker in Stuart Hendry, a fee that seems a bargain now after he enjoyed a successful goal scoring season.
A fair few players left because I didn’t feel they would do us any good in the Premiership and could do with freeing up some wages to give to better players.
We got what looked like a routine draw in the first round against East Stirlingshire and routine it turned out to be. New signing Stuart Hendry got us off to a good start bagging his first of the season after 21 minutes and Scott Lochhead added to that lead on the hour mark. 2-0 it finished as we comfortably progressed to the next round.
Oh dear.. Yeah that did not go as planned. I rested a couple players because fixtures were coming thick and fast and it backfired massively. Stuart Hendry put us ahead but we couldn’t really get going and ended up losing 2-1 after extra time.
Being a Premiership side now, we enter the Scottish Cup in the fourth round and were paired with top flight counterparts Aberdeen at home. Despite taking the lead we never really looked like holding on and when they got the equaliser just before the hour mark, there was only going to be one winner. A silly challenge in the box by Scott McMann led to an Aberdeen penalty which Jonathan Rubio netted to give the away side the lead and, in the end, the victory.
We knew it was going to be tough this season and we were really struggling in the first part of the season. We would go into the new year having only picked up 3 wins so far, not good.
To add insult to injury, we were bottom of the league after 21 games. On the plus side we weren’t miles behind the rest of the teams and still had a realistic chance of staying up.
End of Season
Results after the new year were a lot more promising, especially after the split. In the 5 games after the split (Ladbrokes Premiership Rel. Group) we managed to pick up 8 vital points against our fellow bottom half teams.
We did actually managed to climb up the table after some impressive results in the business end of the season. We ended the season in 10th place, 5 clear of relegated Dundee and 2 clear of Motherwell in the Relegation PlayOff place, which they ultimately won.
Staying in the league was the main aim and in the end we managed that, even if we did do it the hard way.
End of Season News
We managed to collect £1.37m in prize money for finishing 10th in the table, hopefully this means the board will be a bit more generous with our transfer budget?
Thank you all for reading and I will see you all soon!