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SFL DIVISION TWO PREVIEW – SATURDAY 9TH MARCH 2013

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With an 18 point gap maintained, Queen of the South’s win last weekend in their 5 goal encounter with East Fife means that the magic is still at Dumfries. Just below them in 2nd Alloa maintained their presence by scoring all the 5 goals in their tie with Albion Rovers. They are 9 points ahead of Brechin City who have 3 games in hand over Alloa so the Hedgemen could push them as their 3-3 draw against Stenhousemuir away last Saturday was followed by a midweek win at Somerset Park that kept them safely in 3rd. The 4 point gap between them and 4th means that the battle for the last place in the play offs is the story of this division just now. Forfar are sitting in that spot and had a decisive win at home with Stranraer whilst 5th placed Arbroath were slaughtered at Ayr. Stenhousemuir, in 6th, will still believe they have some hope but they have slipped with a draw at Brechin followed by being beaten 4-3 by bottom club Albion Rovers on Tuesday. The relegation battle is intense as people keep slipping with Ayr United in limbo; East Fife struggling; and Stranraer all over the place. The bottom spot though is all Albion Rovers though their 4-3 win midweek with the Warriors perhaps shows it is not all over yet!

The Game of the Day for me is at Brechin with Brechin City v Forfar Athletic. 2nd v 4th could make the play off battle more interesting if the away side wins. They got a 3-1 win at home to Stranraer last weekend with Gavin Malin, Omar Kader and Chris Templeman getting them 3-0 up at half time. The only down side for Dick Campbell was the sending off of Michael Bolochoweckyj. Brechin began to play out their games in hand midweek with a 2-1 win away to Ayr. Ewan Moyes opened the scoring and then Graham Hay restored their advantage, Ayr equalising in between, after 75 minutes. This followed their 3-3 draw away to Stenhousemuir last Saturday. Alan Trouten, Ewan Moyes (again) and David McKenna got the goals that brought them back from being 3-1 behind. Gary Fusco was sent off in that game. Ewan Moyes does not look like he will make it for this game and there are other injury troubles for Ray McKinnon. The free scoring spirit for the Hedgemen has deserted them of late so they will hope a wee run of games should sort them! I think it ought to be enough to see them safely through this game.

Queen of the South v Ayr United has a Queen’s team on fire against an Ayr team that has lost its gun, then found it, then lost the damn thing again. Gavin Reilly, Nicky Clark and Mark Durnan got the Doonhamers goals last weekend as they saw off an East Fife side that came at them in the closing stages. Ayr had Michael Moffat getting all 4 goals for them in their 4-1 demolition of Arbroath at home last Saturday and then faltered 2-1 at home against Brechin midweek. Liam Buchanan got their goal that equalised the Ewan Moyes opener for Brechin. United will be without their talismanic striker, Michael Moffat so this could be exceptionally tricky; his suspension is followed by a number of injuries to key players in the Honest Men. Queen of the South have only 1 injury worry and they have managed to maintain this form even when they have had a queue at the treatment table. It would be a shock if this was an away win!

Stenhousemuir v Alloa Athletic pitsan away side of brilliant form, particularly last weekend as they blasted past Albion Rovers 5-1. The scorers for the Wasps were Martin Grehan, Callum Elliot twice, Graeme Holmes and Kevin Cawley. They are up against a home side who need to win to keep on the coat tails of those above them fighting for the play off spot but their form has been so difficult to pin down. They drew 3-3 at home to Brechin City last weekend with goals from Mark Corcoran, John Gemmell and a Graham Hay own goal which got them a  3-1 advantage but they then failed to hang on. Midweek they travelled to Coatbridge and lost 4-3 to the bottom side! They went 3-0 down before John Gemmell started the fight back but their last two goals from John Gemmell again and Jamie Reid were in the 85th and 91st minutes respectively – not a good day at that office! John Gemmell has won his red card appeal and will be available for the game and that could be significant for the Warriors but truth be told, Alloa are on a mission and Paul Hartley’s side will be hard to beat.

East Fife v Arbroath has a home side that lost 3-2 last weekend against league leaders Queen of the South. The manner of their fight back will give Billy Brown some hope that the run in to the end of the season may see them safe. Paul McManus and Liam Gormley got their goals. Arbroath are licking their wounds after a 4-1 hammering at Ayr. Derek Holmes had put them ahead early in the 1st half and it looked good for the Smokies but pear shaped was their future for the next 80 minutes or so! These are two teams that are struggling for wins at the moment and for me the home side may just shade it though the form book says a draw…

Finally Stranraer v Albion Rovers would have been my game of the day just because relegation tussles can provide some great entertainment but 2nd v 4th was too good to miss. Stranraer had a disappointing 3-1 loss last weekend against Forfar Athletic with Craig Malcolm getting their 2nd half consolation whilst Albion Rovers have been all over the place! They got thumped 5-1 last weekend by Alloa Athletic with Marvin Andrews getting the consolation. This was followed by a surprising 4-3 win at home to Stenhousemuir being their first points in 10 games! Chris Dallas, David Crawford, Alan Reid and Scott Sally got them their 3 points. It makes for a fascinating day for both teams. The permutations for Stranraer if they win are many and varied, for the wee Rovers they will still be at the bottom but the gap will be cut to 6 points, and for me this one is so difficult to call…

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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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