I never heard the music stop but when it did Billy Reid was out the game at Hamilton and Gary Holt was in the chair at Falkirk. The announcement with regards to Reid did take me a little by surprise as the last time I had met him he was talking enthusiastically about the young lads he would be bringing through the ranks over the next couple of years. I do believe that he is someone another club should be sniffing out for the future. Holt had been mentioned in despatches during the week and it is great to see Falkirk doing something to bring Scottish coaches from down south back up and into the Scottish game. It makes this weekend look more interesting.
The biggest news up until that point had been at East End Park where Dunfermline entered administration and the effects of any points deduction are still to be felt by them. Hamilton had led 8 other SFL clubs at a meeting to discuss SPL2 and it will make conspiracy theorists wonder if this was the reason Billy Reid chucked it. Up the top of the table Thistle have taken command and are looking like the team most likely to – well until they went to Kirkcaldy mid-week and couldn’t beat a stubborn Raith Rovers. Morton had dropped the ball last weekend by losing to Raith themselves and how they will be kicking themselves – Allan Moore has probably kicked them all already! – as they could have really put the pressure on the Maryhill Magyars. All eyes, feet, body and soul should be heading for Firhill for the showdown on the 10th April! Whilst Dunfermline fear their fate with regards to the loss of points down the bottom there are more than a few clubs desperate to find out if they can gain any advantage from it. Airdrie United still look doomed and Jimmy Boyle may well be planning for a 2nd Division assault next year. Cowdenbeath could benefit from the Pars’ demise as they lost another difficult fixture last weekend whilst Dumbarton won one and lost one against Hamilton between the game last weekend and midweek. Mid table Falkirk and Raith’s win last Saturday make their mid table places more consolidated whilst Falkirk’s win again against Livingston has them temporarily 3rd.
The table therefore has three battle grounds. Up top Thistle are ahead by 5 points with a game to play against Morton. There are 6 games remaining for each and they could not be bigger cup finals for the 2 teams in the league with significant support behind them that could make a real difference in the SPL. The battle for 3rd is now between Falkirk and Livingston with 2 points between them but Livingston having 2 games in hand. The relegation battle that looked like it was between 2 teams – Airdrie and Dumbarton – now includes Hamilton and Cowdenbeath. If Airdrie do not start winning they could be relegated in 3 weeks time; they sit 10 points behind 9th spot. Cowdenbeath are 4 points behind 8th spot Dumbarton who look like this year’s Houdini. Hamilton are just a point above Dumbarton in 7th but have a game in hand. What shall this weekend bring us?
My Game of the Day involves top versus bottom as it is Greenock Morton v Airdrie United. Allan Moore will be well aware that with Partick Thistle in the Ramsdens Cup Final on Sunday all eyes will be on his team to maintain their pressure on the league leaders. Last weekend they stumbled with a 2-1 defeat at Raith Rovers which was a shock. Lee Wilkie pulled one back in the 72nd minute but it was not good enough for the promotion chasing Greenock faithful. Airdrie United may well be awaiting the result of penalties from Dunfermline’s situation with more hope than expectation because even if Dunfermline were left with nil points Airdrie, on current from would be hard pushed to keep ahead of them. Last weekend was a single goal loss at home to Falkirk. A home win is simply nothing short of vital for Allan Moore and who would bet against it?
Dumbarton v Livingston has the Sons back, under Ian Murray, with the bit between their teeth and hope singing in their hearts. It may be too early to have the bunting out yet but their 3-2 win last weekend against Hamilton, though soured by their midweek loss against the same team, is evidence that it won’t be long before the celebrations commence – doomed teams would have lost both. Steven McDougall had got them ahead then Scott Agnew doubled it before Paul McGinn made it 3-1. A late goal made it look more respectable at 3-2 but the reality as this was Dumbarton’s day. Midweek Dumbarton then lost 2-1 at New Douglas Park with Jim Lister having put them ahead. Livingston meanwhile had a 2-2 draw with Dunfermline Athletic last Saturday with Anthony Andreiu getting an equaliser to make it 1-1 before Marc McNulty put them ahead. They then got mugged by a penalty in the 92nd. Midweek they lost 2-1 at Falkirk after Ian Russell put them ahead, then he got booked and finally he got sent off. By that time they were already 2-1 down! This could be an excellent game of football between two sides that like to play decent stuff. My money is on the Sons revival continuing but Livingston are always there or thereabouts to cause trouble.
Dunfermline Athletic v Hamilton Academical has another club now used this season to battling in the Pars who drew last weekend with Livingston. Ryan Thomson and Stephen Husband got their goals and Husband’s goal was a penalty on the 92nd minute which goes to show just how much their battling qualities are worth! Hamilton lost 3-2 at home to Dumbarton last weekend with Gary Fisher being sent off with them being 2-0 down, Andy Ryan and then Stevie May attempted to get them back in it but it was too little too late. They then brought Dumbarton back midweek and after going 1-0 down, a Stevie May double got them all 3 points late on. Jim Jeffries will want a decent showing on and off the park as Gavin Masterton has decided to hand over his shares to the administrators. Now it should be OK for the faithful to turn up and put THEIR money into the future of THEIR team. With Billy Reid away at Hamilton I have a funny feeling they may begin to struggle and the Pars have got them at just the right time!
Finally in the league, Falkirk v Cowdenbeath has a home side with a new manager in Gary Holt who has a winning team on his hands. Last Saturday they triumphed 1-0 away at Airdrie United thanks to Lyle Taylor whilst on Tuesday Sean Higgins and Jason Talbot got the 2 goals in their 2-1 win away at Livingston. Cowdenbeath lost 2-1 at home to Partick Thistle last weekend and Craig Moore again equalised for The Blue Brazil but time is running out for Colin Cameron’s men. I have a funny feeling only a depleted points total for Dunfermline is likely to help them out of 9th. As it stands I cannot see them beating the form team that is Falkirk right now.
RAMSDENS CUP PREVIEW
Now there are only 4 games this weekend due to the Ramsdens Cup Final on Sunday at Livingston that features Queen of the South v Partick Thistle. This has the 2nd Division Champions up against the 1st division leaders. As charged atmospheres go, you can’t get much better than that. Queen’s have been magnificent this year and for my money are likely to prove very tough opponents for Thistle. Thistle will want the silverware but the bigger prize of the SPL may make them cautious about this game. It means that Queen’s are likely to be really playing on an even playing field and for my money I would not be surprised if Queen’s took the trophy!
We shall have a dedicated preview of the Ramsdens Cup later tonight and shall live blog the game tomorrow also.