When they are looking for candidates for manager of the year will they see past the SPL? Here is a guy who in the first year of his managerial career has won 2 national trophies by April! Allan Johnston’s Doonhamers won the Ramsdens to add to their Championship and highly deserved it was too. I wonder if there has ever been a manager outside of Glasgow who has achieved that? In the league, however, as Queens were having a party Alloa cemented 2nd spot by beating Ayr United whilst Brechin City faltered not once but twice as they lost 3-2 away to Stranraer and then 4-3 at home to Forfar Athletic. Arbroath had taken 4th temporarily due to a 2-1 home win with Albion Rovers before Forfar won 3-2 at East Fife and then recorded that win at Brechin. Forfar are now 2 points clear in 4th spot. Ayr and Stenhousemuir are fading fast so Arbroath will likely be Forfar’s only challenge for the play offs. Meanwhile down the bottom, Stranraer’s midweek draw at Methil makes it look increasingly like East Fife for the play offs and Albion Rovers for automatic relegation.
Game of the day could have been between two ties. I went for Alloa Athletic v Forfar Athletic. Alloa won 2-0 at Somerset thanks to Ryan McCord and Graeme Holmes in an easy game. Forfar are on a roll with a Gavin Malin double and 1 from Gavin Swankie getting the 3-2 win at home to East Fife, then midweek goals from Dale Hilson, Michael Bolochoweckyj and Gavin Malin putting them 3-0 up before a Brechin comeback and Gavin Swankie trying to put it beyond their grasp at 4-2. It was a frantic end. This should be frantic game as both need points to keep where they are though Alloa’s need is hardly as great as Forfar’s.
Brechin City v Arbroath was the other contender for game of the day as the home side are stuttering in 3rd spot whilst Arbroath are see sawing in 4th/5th. Brechin had a surprising 3-2 loss at Stranraer last weekend with goals from Derek Carcary and Paul McLean. Midweek they had an Alan Trouten double and a Graham Hay goal that just wasn’t enough of a fight back from being 3-0 down. It’s a tie that could draw or end up going either way. Queen of the South v Stranraer has a home side that many cannot see past for any type of win and that is precisely what I see here. Their penalty shoot out win last Sunday will galvanise rather than drain against a team that won 3-2 at home against Brechin; Craig Malcolm got 2 and Chris Aitken the other. They then got a 1-1 draw away at East Fife to keep them above the play off spot thanks to Mick Dunlop.
Albion Rovers v Ayr United has 2 teams that are just not doing very well. The Wee Rovers lost 2-1 last weekend to Arbroath with Pat Walker having put them ahead but then Barry Russell got sent off, they conceded a penalty and lost another late goal. Ayr were just well beaten at home to Alloa. I would like to say Ayr will win this but I honestly cannot call it. They should win these easy but Todd Lumsden will want to leave the division with a message he will be back but it is hard to see where his wins will come from. Finally East Fife v Stenhousemuir has a home side that lost 3-2 last weekend at Forfar – Bobby Sloan and Scott McBride getting the goals – then drawing midweek at home to Stranraer – a Scott McBride 91st minute penalty rescuing a point. The Warriors have been idle. For me this should be an away win but predicting Stenhousemuir games this season has been mighty hard. Billy Brown might get his troops to do just enough to make it a final hurrah in the division for the boys from Methil.