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SFL Preview: Saturday 26th November 2011

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This weekend has seen a number of fixtures in all three leagues being rescheduled due to cup replays. First Division Partick Thistle entertain Culter at Firhill and home advantage should, this time, be telling. Second Division Forfar Athletic host Third Division Stranraer and again it should be a home win. However this is the cup and as Montrose showed taking Ayr United to a replay and making them work for their victory, this is a Cup that is no respecter of league positions.  The all Third Division tie Queens Park v Elgin City is more intriguing and it could swing either way.

League business in the First Division meanwhile throws up even more intrigue. The beginning of the season saw not much between each of the clubs but of the 4 remaining fixtures this Saturday all teams are separated by at least 5 points. Nowhere is this more obvious as in Livingston v Ross County which sees 3rd v 1st but with the gap being 9 points. Derek Adams travels to Livingston high on top of the league but his Dingwall side has never beaten Livingston in 18 attempts! You’ve got to think this is the chance!

In the Dundee v Falkirk tie Barry Smith’s resurgent side may be 5 points behind Steven Pressley’s young guns but with no game last weekend for the Bairns, Pressley’s team will be hoping not to be ring rusty. Raith Rovers v Hamilton Academical could see debuts for the Hearts’ loan trio – Jason Holt, David Smith and Jamie Walker – which is just as well as John McGlynn’s injury list is beginning to resemble the A and E Department of a busy hospital. Billy Reid’s injury list is similarly aligned but no loanees for him this weekend to boost his squad.

Finally Greenock Morton v Queen of the South will see the bottom club from the bottom of the country try to shake off a dismal run at a club whose bad run may be coming to a stuttering end. Allan Moore has a goalkeeping issue but with the huge presence of Dominic Cervi at the back, Marc Smyth returning to the squad and Queens only registering 1 absentee – Mark Campbell – this has all the hallmarks of a 6 pointer that could send either team on a mini run.

The Second Division has Cowdenbeath v Dumbarton as Colin Cameron’s side attempts to put some distance between his side and Paul Sheerin’s Arbroath. Cameron has some mixed news – Jordan Morton in, John Armstrong back, Craig Winter off to East Stirling on loan and Danny McKay still out. Kevin McNicoll and Scott Agnew are back for the Sons in a game that last time had plenty of goals – all Cowdenbeath’s in a 4-0 win. Airdrie United v Arbroath has Paul Sheerin’s side off to a team on a high. Last weekend Gala Fairydean were on the end of an 11 goal thrashing courtesy of Jimmy Boyle’s side. This will be a much sterner test as only David Lilley, through suspension will be unavailable for Airdrie from the 11 who scored 11 last weekend. Paul Sheerin will probably be benched as he is still recovering from surgery so this could be the tie to watch this weekend.

Stenhousemuir v Albion Rovers is another very interesting tie. Stenhousemuir are looking for a 7th win in 8 home games whilst Paul Martin hopes to continue his side’s own good run of recent form. Martin has Todd Lumsden back, on loan Motherwell striker Steven Lawless in, Robert Love needing a late fitness test and St Mirren loanee Thomas Reilly apparently ready for action. Stenhousemuir may therefore have a stern test ahead. Brechin City v East Fife sees 7th v 6th and Brechin add back in their two loanees from Hibs – David Crawford and Scott Smith. Jim Weir is a big fan of John Robertson’s side. East Fife will welcome back Matthew Park and Mark Ridgers as they attempt to get back into the play off spot they held a few short weeks ago.

There are only two ties in the Third Division and this is the perfect weekend for Paul Hartley’s team to catch Annan Athletic. Alloa Athletic v East Stirling has Alloa entertaining the one team in the league desperate for any kind of positivity. Craig Winters has joined the Shire on loan whilst a number of players are out through injury. Alloa have their own concerns and will be without Ryan McCord or Steven Masterton. Montrose v Berwick Rangers has Ray Farningham hoping that the form his side showed over 180 minutes against First Division Ayr United translates into the league. Berwick Rangers continue to have Ian Little at the helm making a play for the Berwick job permanently so this could be his stiffest test yet though the league positions would suggest otherwise. Berwick have reported they will be without Richard Walker, Chris Townsley or Fraser McLaren so it couldn’t be tougher!

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About Author

A lifelong supporter, since seeing Alex Ferguson play for them, of Ayr United he now contributes here, at KickTalk and Ringside Reports for things sporty. He is also a theatrical type and an educationalist. As an Ayr fan he clearly can explain the inexplicable, place fanatical faith in the most fantastic of dreams and deal with dark periods of depression and disappointment. Perfect as a teacher..

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