Shankland walking on Ayr

THE words “it’s going to be a competitive Championship this year” were muttered ad nauseam in the weeks building up to the start of the league campaign.

Similar noises were made last season before a much improved St Mirren strolled their way through a very poor division.

What will happen this season is anyone’s guess, but until the league starts to take shape a couple of months down the line, there will be – on paper anyway – a few tasty-looking ties on each fixture card.

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Dunfermline, Ross County, Inverness, Dundee United, Partick Thistle and Falkirk all begin the season with title aspirations, even if one or two of those suffered Betfred Cup blues and carried that into the opening day.

One team not fancied for the title and that came into the league in fine form following their League Cup exploits is Ayr United. For the second consecutive Saturday they faced Partick Thistle – relegated via the Premiership play-offs last season – and for the second consecutive Saturday they secured a 2-0 victory.

There has been much speculation surrounding the future of Lawrence Shankland, with Dundee supposedly making enquiries about the 22-year-old. The former Aberdeen striker bagged 29 goals for Ian McCall’s side during last season’s nail-biting, title-winning campaign and has already managed an incredible nine goals in his first five matches of this season.

His latest two, one of which came from the spot, fired Ayr into an early 2-0 lead against Thistle on Saturday, a lead they never really looked like relinquishing, and sent them to the league’s summit.

Livingston’s back-to-back promotions should serve as some inspiration to Ian McCall’s side, though they will do well to keep this up for the entire campaign – their priority, at this stage, must be staying in the league – especially if they lose their talisman.

It’s not just his goal-scoring exploits that has attracted the attention and talk of a six-figure fee, Shankland has also excelled in his link-up play at Somerset Park evidenced on a number of occasions on Saturday when he and striker partner Michael Moffat tore apart Thistle’s defence.

In contrast, it was a disappointing start to the league for Alan Archibald’s men, who won their opening three Betfred Cup matches before back-to-back defeats against their weekend opponents.

They have retained a strong side and appear to want to play a possession-based style. That backfired for Ayr’s second goal, however, when a cross-field pass put Max Melbourne under pressure and allowed Declan McDaid to drive through and eventually set up Shankland for his second of the day.

City's handsome win shows that capital clubs rule

EDINBURGH rules. For now at least. Not only did the capital city clubs dominate the opening Premiership fixtures, Edinburgh City shot straight to the top of League Two with an emphatic 4-0 victory over Albion Rovers.

In the days leading up to the match, Blair Henderson spoke of how he aimed to break the 20-goal barrier, having last season finished top scorer at Annan Athletic with 16.

The 23-year-old has finished top scorer at which ever club he’s been at over the past three campaigns and got off to the best possible start with a hat-trick in Saturday’s win.

Henderson also hopes that the reduced travelling – he works as a trainee accountant in Kelso – can aid him in reaching his goals target and having netted once over the League Cup group stage, he was given the chance to chalk up his first league goal for his new club early into the match.

With just nine minutes on the clock, Henderson coolly sent the goalkeeper the wrong way from the spot after Alan Murdoch was adjudged to have handled in the box.

He then showed an ability to score different types of goals within an eight-minute period in the second half after latching on to Craig Thomson’s pass and lifting the ball over the keeper for his second before netting his third with a neat flick.

With four goals already, he is halfway to reaching the total of City’s top scorer last season – Falkirk loanee Scott Shepherd.

Arbroath kick off Angus madness in style

FOLLOWING Montrose’s impressive promotion push under Stewart Petrie last season, all four Angus clubs will participate in League One this season.

A total of 24 means that a third of each the club’s league season will be taken up by local derbies, adding more grit and intrigue to a league already brimming with it.

The first saw Arbroath running out comfortable winners against Montrose at Links Park.

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Bobby Linn, one of the finest wingers in the lower leagues, was the man of the moment after he completed his brace by expertly firing the ball into the top corner before performing Ronaldo’s trademark celebration in front of the home support.

Linn’s goals were sandwiched in between strikes from Ryan Wallace and Kane Hester as Dick Campbell’s side picked up from where they left off after an impressive showing last season.

Elsewhere, Rory McAllister is on the verge of becoming the first player to hit a century of goals since the inception of the SPFL .

The 1-1 draw at home to Queen’s Park may not have been the ideal start to the season for the title favourites but McAllister’s strike was his 99th since August 2013.

He is streets ahead of his closest competitor Leigh Griffiths, who has 73.