Today at least 4 teams will finish their season with the other 4 extending it by another week. The Play Offs are a fantastic phenomena though as other teams are now settling their squads for next year the 8 clubs involved can’t quite settle until the real business of which division they will end up in, is settled first.
SFL DIVISION ONE
Ayr United v Airdrie United has two teams on equal terms fighting for a final spot after a hard fought game at the Shyberry on Wednesday night. It may have ended 0-0 but with a penalty saved, the crossbar hit twice, the post hit twice and a goal disallowed Airdrie United left their home ground very disappointed that they didn’t have an advantage. Ayr were highly fortunate not to be going into today’s 2nd leg chasing the game. Brian Reid has bemoaned his luck all season with injuries and this weekend he is without Liam Tomsett through suspension as well as John Robertson and Adam Dodd. Both Michael McGowan and Martyn Campbell will take part though neither are fully fit. Graeme Owens and Phil Johnstone are out for the Diamonds though Willie McLaren is back so Jimmy Boyle is hoping that boost, coupled with the same performance from Wednesday will see them through. This is the one I struggle with because Ayr were so poor on Wednesday you can’t help thinking they won’t be that bad again but they are the club on the cusp of relegation… Ayr to shade it.
Arbroath v Dumbarton has Dumbarton with a slender advantage. Stuart Malcolm put the Red Lichties 1 ahead before Tony Wallace equalised. Bryan Prunty then got the winner for the Sons. Arbroath pressed hard but couldn’t penetrate so Paul Sheerin will take heart and with only himself an injury doubt and Lee Sibanda out his squad could be well placed to take the semi final at least into injury time. Alan Adamson has issues with no Paul Nugent, Mark Lamont or Ryan Finnie though Prunty should be fit. This may be the deciding factor as Arbroath have the advantage and it may take extra time to settle this. I would like to see the Sons get through but Arbroath should be too strong for them.
SFL DIVISION TWO
Albion Rovers v Elgin City has the visitors with a slight advantage. They managed a single goal victory after Rovers’ Michael O’Byrne saw red. Paul Millar’s solitary goal may not be enough of an advantage to see them through as Paul Martin’s side will hope to use all of their play off experience in the 2nd leg. The Coatbridge side will be without O’Byrne, Danny Ferry, Todd Lumsden and Ryan McStay whilst Tony Stevenson and Chris Boyle are available. Martin has recalled Steven Canning from Bo’ness Juniors as a precaution. Elgin don’t have Barry Wilson or Paul Kaczan available and Ross Jack is hoping that the 1 goal will be enough to be a platform for the victory. I think he may well be right but you cannot discount Albion Rovers. Time and again this season they have pulled surprise results out the bag – just ask Airdrie United!
Queens Park v Stranraer has Queens chasing the game as Stranraer had a Sean Winter double sandwiching a 3rd from Craig Malcolm to give the South West side a significant advantage going into this tie. Anthony Quinn got 1 for the Spiders to reduce the deficit but it will be an uphill struggle at the national stadium. Gardner Speirs has Martin McBride back in contention whilst David Anderson is out. Ryan Borris is Stranraer’s only injury concern and I think that Stranraer have enough of a lead to finish the job comfortably at Hampden.