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SFL Weekend Preview: Saturday 11th February 2012

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Each in their own way are turning into fascinating contests but it would help if each one had a dreadful February and the likes of Falkirk, Arbroath and Stranraer could catch up – but will they? Well let’s do what we like to do and I seem to be really bad at – speculate!

SFL DIVISION ONE

The league leaders have an away fixture as it’s Raith Rovers v Ross County. County have the advantage in these ties this year but with Raith having a full strength squad from which to choose, Derek Adams will be wary. With the other two in the relegation mix facing each other at Somerset, John McGlynn couldn’t have a harder tie to try and get some distance between his side and them. This could be one of those odd, “this proves what a tight league this is ties” and Raith could use the home advantage to get 3 points. Greenock Morton v Falkirk has Allan Moore’s side wanting to wash away the 6-0 mauling last weekend at Motherwell with a home win against the team most in the First think is the best footballing side in the division. What makes it tighter as a contest is that Farid El Alugui is suspended for Falkirk and it looks like Ross Forsyth could start for Morton. It makes it likely this could be a better tie than league placings suggest. I have always had a soft spot for Morton and would like to see them get something from this game. I just find it hard to see past the on form Falkirk.

Dundee v Hamilton Academical sees Barry Smith without both Nicky Riley and Gavin Rae. Billy Reid would have fancied his chances anyway but now it looks like advantage Hamilton. Not the time then to have a few needing treatment. Reid’s reluctance to name who they are suggest he is at it or they are the ones who’s absence at the beginning of the season created such difficulty for him. January saw him wheel and deal as well as Harry Redknap’s lawyer so this could be a rare away win. With the shock of the week, Livvy are preparing for a home tie with Livingston v Partick Thistle. The sacking of Gary Bollan midweek after he guided them to two promotions in a row is testament to the saying – you never know the minute! Temporary – and he says it is definitely temporary – manager in charge Brian Welsh has Jason Talbot back whilst Jackie McNamara will be wary of playing the wounded animal. Sean Welsh, loanee from Hibs, is in their squad which will be without captain Alan Archibald. Another away win for me.

Finally down the coast it’s Ayr United v Queen of the South. This west coast derby has the two teams battling to get out the relegation zone. Brian Reid has called for his new strike force – including two new signings – to make the difference against Queens. The last time these two met at Palmerston Queen’s walked away 4-1 winners. Gus McPherson will add new loanee John Potter to his side and Sam Parkin, who has made a sensational start to his Queen’s career will also be on hand to try and repeat the victory from last time out. Ayr have another one of those midweek Cup fixtures they like this coming Wednesday so could be forgiven if they have their eye off the ball. Neither the league table nor their manager would forgive them though this has the air of yet another away win about it…

SFL DIVISION TWO

Home advantage for the league leaders as it is Cowdenbeath v Stirling Albion. The leaders have their own injury worries with Colin Cameron ruling himself out, waiting on others and being a tad short in his squad list for the game. Stirling have picked up a little under Greig MacDonald but the underlying problems remain. The Binos welcome new signing Kevin Kelbie for the first time so could also get another wee lift from that. The Blue Brazil should be too strong though. Forfar Athletic v Arbroath is another top versus bottom clash. Third time Loon, Barry Sellars goes straight into the squad as the Arbroath boss recognises this month as a crucial one for his club. Playing against a relegation threatened side holds no respite for his squad and it could be a very tricky away it. I fancy a draw. So might Dick Campbell…

Stenny are awaiting news of a loan move from Hamilton before Stenhousemuir v Dumbarton. The player in question, Michael Devlin would slot right into the defence and help the Warriors maintain their battle to stay in the play off places. Alan Adamson meanwhile looks like he will only be missing Kevin Nicoll. This could be the tie of the day in the 2nd Division and I cannot call it. Brechin City v Airdrie United is equally fascinating as time is running out for both teams to make an impression on the play off places. Jim Weir will not have familiar faces, Charlie King, Gerry McLachlan and Derek Carcary out though debuts are lined up for Jonny Lindsay and Rory MacKenzie. Jimmy Boyle in the meantime wants to open up a gap on a team with 3 games in hand over them. Fraser Keast will be missing and again another tie I simply cannot call.

Finally the see saw season that has been for the final two sides may well continue as Albion Rovers v East Fife has the home side adding in new signings Danny McKay and Jack Werndly. The Fifers are literally sweating on their line up as a flu bug has swept through the squad. It makes it likely that Paul Martin’s side have the advantage and the Coatbridge side will rise whilst the Fifer’s tale falls flat again.

SFL DIVISION THREE

A very strong home squad is available for Alloa Athletic v Berwick Rangers. Only Stevie Masteron is likely to be missing from Paul Hartley’s table topping team. Ian Little has the belief needed to get the Borderer’s first win in 7 but for me the rollercoaster that is the Alloa promotion push will just keep a rolling. Dundee United loanee Ross Smith goes straight into the Peterhead squad as it’s top versus bottom geographically with Peterhead v Stranraer. A fully fit Stranraer with everyone available should be make the 2nd place side favourites for the trip but Peterhead is always a tricky place to visit. To make a decent fight of things up top I will go for a Stranraer win but it could easily go the other way…

Another travel nightmare it is Annan Athletic v Elgin City. David Winters has now signed until the end of the season for the home side as Elgin are looking to improve their woeful away form. This might not be the game to manage that and I would plump for a home win to continue the Galabankies fight for a play off spot. Queens Park have another tricky tie with Queens Park v Montrose. They are struggling once again with their squad – work commitments and injuries playing havoc with their ability to field a consistent team. Montrose meanwhile will have a number of youth team players in the squad so this could be the time for the Spiders to hit form….

Finally the two bottom SFL clubs collide with Clyde v East Stirlingshire. Last time they met at Broadwood it was 7-1 for Clyde. John Coughlin has spoken of exorcising those demons but has a squad suffering from injury doubts. I have this down as a decently fought draw. Then again what do I know…

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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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