Thursday 5th May 2016

THE line-up for next season’s SPFL Championship is gradually taking shape, and took a further step forward with the play-off semi-final first legs in midweek.

It is looking like Ayr United and Stranraer will battle it out for the right to move up into Scotland’s second tier next season after their semi-final first leg results.

Ayr demolished Peterhead 4-1 at Balmoor Stadium and, with home advantage for the second leg, look as though they have one foot in the final.

Also in a commanding position are Stranraer, who beat Livingston 5-2 at Stair Park last night.

Livi will be at home for the second leg, and will be hoping for an early goal to put some pressure back on Stranraer.

Both second legs take place on Saturday. The two sides defeated on aggregate will play in League One next season and so will not face Sons in league action.

Should it be an Ayr v Stranraer final, Dumbarton will not only have another part-time side alongside them in the Championship. They’ll have another outfit with strong connections.

The Honest Men boast former Sons players Nicky Devlin and Andy Graham among their defence, while trips to Stranraer would mean a return to Stair Park for current Dumbarton boss Stevie Aitken, who joined from the Blues last year.

But it is still all to play for, and Peterhead and Livingston will not be giving up just yet.

Meanwhile, at the top end of the Championship, Raith Rovers beat Hibernian 1-0 in their play-off quarter-final first leg last night (Wednesday).

The second leg of that takes place on Saturday at Easter Road. The winners on aggregate will advance to the semi-final to face Falkirk, while the beaten side will be in next season’s Championship.

So far, Dumbarton’s confirmed league opponents next season are Dundee United, Morton, St Mirren, Queen of the South and Dunfermline Athletic.

Andy Galloway

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