The start of a new season is not always an easy time for the league champions of yesteryear – just ask any Chelsea or Juventus fan. Their dismal starts to the 2015/16 campaign have resulted in last season’s dominant champions languishing in the lower reaches of the Premier League and Serie A tables respectively.
However, reigning FVFDA U16 champions Milton FC have had no problems hitting the ground running once again as they look to win their third straight league title. The Bannockburn side find themselves in familiar territory having won each of their seven games so far this season, scoring 42 goals in the process and conceding a mere seven.
Milton’s dominance has been evident for all to see as they have romped to two successive league titles winning all but one game in each of their last two campaigns. However, several sides have made promising starts to the season this time around with the top three separated by only five points, suggesting that Milton may not have it all their own way this time around.
East Stirlingshire FC find themselves three points clear of Milton and are currently top of the table, although they have now played three games more than last season’s champions after victory over Riverside FC this weekend.
Despite narrow losses to Milton and Cumbernauld, they have looked impressive so far winning their previous four matches by an aggregate of 28 goals to two. They also made a major statement of intent with an away win against last season’s runners up, Syngenta Juveniles, showing that they can beat the very best that the league has to offer.
However, East Stirlingshire will need to replicate that kind of form consistently over the course of the season if they are to mount a serious title challenge.
Having finished in second place last season, Syngenta Juveniles are no strangers to a title challenge. Finishing only five points off the pace last season, their only two losses came in closely fought matches against the eventual champions showing that they have the potential to push Milton all the way.
This season, however, they already find themselves two points behind Milton having played a game more. Thish could prove costly come the end of the campaign – even at this early stage. Despite this, all is not lost as they have shown in previous campaigns that they have the consistency to stay in a title race until the very end.
Furthermore, with the gap between the top teams in the league seemingly having narrowed considerably and with more teams in title contention than ever before, perhaps more than one side will be able to defeat Milton over the course of the season and prevent them from running away with a third successive league title.
Two teams who have proven that they have what it takes to beat Milton in recent years are Cumbernauld Colts and Wasp Community Club – the last two sides to beat Milton in the league.
Currently Wasps Community Club are in fifth place on 16 points, with Cumbernauld two places back on 13 points. With both sides also yet to play Milton, a victory for either against the champions would make the title race even more intriguing and tarnish the aura of invincibility surrounding Milton.
Ahead of both teams above, Stenhousemuir FC Community will prove a tough test for all. This especially after recording an impressive 5-2 victory over Cumbernald Colts this weekend. Only one point off Syngenta and three off Milton, they are certainly a team to watch.
Finally, in sixth place is Carmuirs Colts on 15 points. Having played the same number of games as Milton, but six points behind, it will be a tricky task for them to challenge for the title. However, as results have shown in this league already, nothing is guaranteed.
There are a lot of questions yet to be answered in this season’s FVFDA U16 league: will Milton be able to go one better than the past two seasons and go a full season unbeaten on their way to a third successive league title?; will Syngenta be able to recover from their shaky start by their incredibly high standards and go on to dethrone the champions?; what role will sides such as East Stirlingshire, Cumbernauld Colts, Wasp Community Club, Stenhousemuir Community and Carmuir Colts play in the title race, if any?
However, one thing is for sure: this season is looking like it could be the most intriguing and closely fought in recent years, and Milton will face more challenges than ever before in the defence of their title.