With two games on Christmas Eve and the rest of the card on Boxing Day we are without any postponements which, after the last two years, is rather nice for Christmas! Thanks Santa!
SFL DIVISION ONE
It’s yet another 1st versus 2nd clash for division one as Falkirk v Ross County sees Falkirk’s leap into 2nd place put to the test at home as the league leaders come calling. Falkirk played their game of the season last year as they beat Queen of the South away 5-1. County have a number of players in and out whilst Falkirk only have Stewart Murdoch missing. County will either start to pull away or Falkirk will peg them back and for the interest of the other teams I would hope that the Bairns do us all a favour. Dundee v Greenock Morton sees the team that drew at Dingwall last week, Dundee, hosting Allan Moore’s stuttering Morton. Nicky Reilly returns for Dundee and will be a significant boost whilst Morton have no other news to bring after the return of Michael Tidser and Faoud Bachirou last weekend. Morton have only managed 2 wins in 10 and it looks like next year before they shall be able to make some significant changes to that record.
Partick Thistle v Queen of the South has Jackie McNamara continuing to struggle with injuries though it has to be said, sitting 4th it’s a struggle many others would enjoy toiling under. Gus McPherson has last weekend’s thumping from Falkirk to get out of their system. This may end up being a draw rather than an inspiring battle for either side. Hamilton Academical v Livingston sees a mid table clash and possibly the biggest news of the season for Billy Reid being that he has his captain back. For the first time this season Alex Neil is available for contention. Grant Anderson and Thomas Cerny are both still out whilst Livingston will welcome back Rory Boulding and Mark McNally. Of the 3 games this season it has been a loss, a draw and a win each. Tough one to call but I would go for a home win this time round.
The last game of the day – Ayr United v Raith Rovers – has 10th v 8th at Somerset Park where work has been ongoing to repair storm damage and get the game on. Ayr will be without Eddie Malone and Martyn Campbell whilst John McGlynn has Willie Dyer and John Baird back. Raith have yet to beat Ayr this season and their fortunes since both were promoted three years ago has been polar opposites since but now they share the relegation zone. This has another draw written over it and the Somerset faithful might settle for not losing like they did last time out – a 4-1 loss to Queen of the South.
SFL DIVISION TWO
Stenhousemuir v Cowdenbeath is clearly the game of the day in division two as 1st v 3rd sees Stenny trying to peg back one of the league leaders with the hope that they can get back into the automatic promotion mix. Neither goes in with an upper hand so it is very hard to call this one. I would however fancy an away win and Stenhousemuir’s home fortress being breached. Arbroath v Stirling Albion has top versus bottom and Colin Cameron’s team will keep one ear on the radio as they could move away from the pack should Paul Sheerin’s side falter. Greig MacDonald is the manager who hasn’t yet managed as Stirling has had 5 games in a row postponed. This could be the one and I would expect the occasion may be more impressive than the result. Home win for me.
Albion Rovers v Brechin City has Paul Martin’s side who have endured the ups and downs of the league and it is still only December, take on Jim Weir’s side toiling at the wrong end of the table. Brechin had a morale boosting 3-2 win against Airdrie United last weekend so we can all hope that they take that verve into a Boxing Day cracker! I would expect a decent game and can’t call it… East Fife v Dumbarton has a mid table clash that sees John Robertson’s side welcoming a side that has been a real test for him. Both teams are without key players and this might be significant as how each team copes with missing players could determine the outcome. For me the team without the most would be East Fife so the bogey should continue…
Finally Forfar Athletic v Airdrie United has Dick Campbell bemoaning where they are but will not accept any more excuses. The team that got to the play offs last year needs to pick up points and that’s the same message in the dressing room at the Shyberry Excelsior. Jimmy Boyle has more key players out and therefore I think will be significant. For me Forfar look like they will take all 3 points but Airdrie have been dogged enough to instantly make me doubt myself…
SFL DIVISION THREE
We have already had 2 games on Christmas Eve in this division and Annan Athletic 2 Berwick Rangers 2 saw Annan blowing it. They had the chance to go top and put pressure on their competitors – Stranraer and Alloa. 2 up through Peter Watson and Ian Harty they were pegged back thanks to an own goal from Scott Gibson and a late equaliser from Darren Gibbon. Queens Park 2 East Stirlingshire 0 heaped more misery on East Stirling as Ian Watt and Craig Smith shot the Spiders into a play off spot.
It means that Clyde v Stranraer becomes highly charged. Clyde are struggling at the back with 2 defenders and their goalkeeper out. They have been boosted by the return of both John Sweeney and Jason Mair. Stranraer, due to the run they are on are unlikely to make changes and should be too much for their hosts today. Alloa Athletic v Elgin City is a difficult tie for Paul Hartley’s side. Elgin have many games in hand whilst Alloa need to keep the pressure on Stranraer and Annan. Annan’s slip gives them hope that they can finally put some distance between the 2 early season leaders. Elgin have some significant absences which makes me believe that Alloa could benefit.
Finally Peterhead v Montrose has Peterhead on a high having won for the first time at home but any potential run may be premature as December seems so far away from the close season promise that had them quoted as promotion contenders. Difficult one to call but Montrose have played well with little reward and if they don’t get that reward their confidence could tumble. I would expect Peterhead could shade today’s game.