The winter is here and all the 8 teams playing today have major injury issues. The number of games will begin to ease for those out the Cups whilst those still in and with replays to come may struggle. The number of teams that have progressed through the Scottish Cup could increase by 1 today as Queens Park host Stranraer at home in their replay but it was a mixed weekend for the rest. In the league Rangers finally got to the top. It was always what we thought would happen it was just a case of when and when became a fortnight ago. It was the same time that they finally got that elusive away win and Ally McCoist, despite the pressure from those who think they should be winning 10 and 11 – 0 each weekend seems to be finally adapting to the league in which he finds himself. Underneath there are only 4 points between 2nd and 7th so it is a highly competitive league. With Clyde, East Stirlingshire and Stirling Albion languishing down at the foot they will hope they can get back on some form of track or they will vie for the worst team in Scotland tag for the rest of the season.
Game of the Day
Rangers v Peterhead
Rangers a fortnight ago won 2-0 away to Clyde thanks to goals from Dean Shiels and Lee McCulloch before demolishing Alloa Athletic in the cup at Ibrox last weekend. Both Shiels and McCulloch got doubles to add to a double from Barrie McKay and a single goal from Robbie Crawford in their 7-0 cup win. Peterhead drew 2-2 at home to Stirling Albion having been 2-0 up; Martin Bavidge and Ross Smith put them ahead. They had a free weekend last week after they had been put out the Cup in the previous round to Deveronvale.
David Templeton, Kevin Kyle, Sebastian Faure, Francisco Sandaza, Kane Hemmings
Graeme Sharp, Jamie Redman
It was their first taste of 3rd Division action when they went to Peterhead and they came away with a 2-2 draw so Rangers will be wary of the Blue Toon. Now is the time for Rangers to start a wee run to claim the title. The idea that they would win the league at a canter was perhaps fanciful for most observers of the SFL but the Ibrox faithful will have to learn patience. Winning leagues often means assimilating to the style of play and then keeping the faith. That has been a testing phrase for many Rangers supporters over the last couple of seasons. Peterhead should be up there for the end of the season if Jim McInally’s positive influence is going to reap benefits for Peterhead as they nearly managed to get there last season after a great run towards the end. Today though they may slip a little in the race for the play offs…
Annan Athletic v Stirling Albion
Annan won 5-2 at home to East Stirlingshire 2 weeks ago with a David Hopkirk hat trick and 1 from Ally Love and a Scott Chaplain penalty the goals that got the points. Annan had fallen foul of Buckie Thistle in a replay in the Cup so they had no game last weekend. Stirling Albion drew 2-2 away to Peterhead after going 2-0 down. Jordan White and Joshua Flood got the goals before they went down 1-0 at home to Deveronvale in the Cup.
David Hopkirk (Loan ended and gone back to Queen of the South), Steven Swinglehurst, Greg Thorburn, Steven Sloan, David Murray, Graham Bell
Danny Ashe, Kieran McAnespie, Ross McGeachie, Bradley Coyne
Steven Weir, Marc McCulloch
Stirling are having a hell of a run. Since being the only 3rd division side to beat Rangers in the league to going out the cup to Deveronvale whilst clawing back to a draw against Peterhead is the last few weeks in the lives of a Bino. You have to think this season is going to be hugely important to the future of the club. Each week then is likely to be one in which they struggle or win. Annan meanwhile have an injury list that is highly worrying for Harry Cairney. It would suggest that the Binos have a real good chance today.
Clyde v Montrose
Clyde lost 2-0 away at Ibrox and got lots of plaudits for some of the organisation that they put out at Ibrox. Nairn County had already despatched them out the Cup so they had no competitive game last weekend whilst Montrose also sat out; they had gone out to Edinburgh City. Their last league action had been a 2-2 draw at home to Elgin City. They had been 2-0 down but goals from Garry Wood and Jamie Winters in the last 16 minutes got their single point. Sandy Wood had been sent off in the 33rd minute so it was even more impressive.
John Neil, Steven Masterton
Sandy Wood, Stephen McNally, Terry Masson
It will always be tight in this league and the game at Broadwood is likely to be no different. Both teams had a weekend off so there is no momentum to speak of for either but Clyde especially really need to pick up points so should be doggedly determined to win. Difficult to predict but certainly a game that could be either hugely boring or highly entertaining…
Elgin City v Berwick Rangers
Elgin drew 2-2 away to Montrose having been 2-0 up through Stuart Leslie and a David Moore penalty two weeks ago. Moore had a 2nd penalty saved which meant that Elgin didn’t leave with all 3 points. Moore was, however, on target in the cup from the spot as his penalty added to 4 other goals in a 5-1 home win against East Fife. The other goals came from Stuart Leslie, Craig Gunn, Mark Nicolson and Paul Harkins. The Borderers drew 1-1 away to Queens Park thanks to Anthony Quinn who had put them ahead but were pegged back within 2 minutes. In the Cup they kept their hopes alive after a 1-1 draw away to Stenhousemuir. Again they went ahead, this time through Lee Currie, but were held again and go to Stenhousemuir in a replay.
Marc Lancaster, Dean Droudge, Damian Gielty
Elgin have been on a run recently and their last two weekends have added to that. Particularly their emphatic win last weekend against opposition in a higher league means that they will be favourites for a home win. Berwick Rangers have struggled to get a win and again this might just be another weekend they have nil points from a league game at the end of Saturday.