With the season to be jolly now past where are the best first foots to come from in the New Year? With a full card today that might just be affected by the weather we have some great ties in prospect but keep one eye on the news to see if they beat the weather.
Match of the Day
Falkirk v Alloa Athletic
The battle for the play offs to the Premiership will be fascinating all season not just because it is new but also because it includes a side that would be battling for a 3rd promotion in a row – a la Gretna – if they maintain their current run of form; to be serious contenders though they need to win games like this. Alloa, fresh from having lost to Dundee last weekend have no Ben Gordon and doubts over Jason Marr, Graeme Holmes, Stephen Simmons and Eddie Ferns. Falkirk, their hosts, have a fully fit squad and their tails high after beating Greenock Morton 2-0 last weekend at Cappielow. This could be a real indicator of the strength of the Wasp’s bid to be in the play offs come May as well as the Bairns’ seriousness over whether they have the recovery power to keep up. I have no idea how this will go but I do think of all the games today it will turn into being the most entertaining.
Dundee v Dumbarton has a host that won against Alloa last weekend to go top whilst their visitors beat Hamilton to allow them to get to top spot. Dundee will be without Craig Beattie and Iain Davidson whilst Dumbarton have no Scott Agnew. The pressure really is on Dundee and I think this will suit Ian Murray’s men and think their recovery might well continue today. Livingston v Raith Rovers has a home side that drew with Queen of the South last weekend up against a Raith Rovers side that also drew. Both teams need more than draws to maintain their positions or, more importantly draw away from the relegation battle and fight for the coattails of the play offs. Livingston are likely to have Mike Mumpaya on the bench whilst the Kirkcaldy side will miss Joe Cardle, David McGurn, Grant Anderson and Greig Spence with Laurie Ellis a doubt. I think a home win is likely but Raith do have a tendency to battle hard so it won’t be easy.
Hamilton Academical v Greenock Morton has the former league leaders desperate to be back up top after being beaten off the top spot by Dumbarton last weekend. The Greenock side also lost last weekend – to Falkirk – and Kenny Shiels has wasted no time at all in making the squad his own; out have gone Nacho Novo and Mark McLaughlin whilst Barrie McKay on loan from Rangers and Darren Cole have arrived. With Thomas O’Ware, Jonathon Page, Tony Wallace and David O’Brien unavailable this seems like a very smart move. The Accies will have no Alex Neil or Jonathon Routledge with doubts over Michael Devlin so have less injury concerns but will be worried about the reaction of the Morton players to their new manager. I reckon it could be another wee cracker of a game but think Morton might just shade it. Cowdenbeath v Queen of the South has two teams battling at the wrong end of the table who need points. The Blue Brazil have shown some fine qualities under their new manager and welcome Nat Wedderburn back today. They miss David Cowan but will be full of confidence against a side they need to catch to get out of the relegation zone. The Dumfries side drew last weekend with Livingston and with no Derek Young and doubts over Gavin Reilly and Michael Paton this could be a finely balanced game. I reckon that home advantage will sway things and we should be looking at Cowdenbeath on the march!