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SPFL Xmas Review – 21st/26th December 2013

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As we move past Chrimbo, hurtling towards New Year it was a weekend and Boxing day fixture list of goals and action as the tops of the table and play off spots waited for the music to stop at quarter to five on the day after Santa visited and guess what? Two table toppers changed and one long serving manager said goodbye. Let’s find out where and who…

SPFL CHAMPIONSHIP

My match of the day saw the only game in the Championship that was settled by a single goal but what a decisive goal it was as Peter MacDonald’s strike put Dundee back to the top of the league at Alloa Athletic. This was made possible as Hamilton Academical faltered at the Bet Butler Stadium against Dumbarton. Garry Fleming put the Sons ahead only for James Keatings to level. In the 2nd half Andy Graham got the all important winner allowing Dumbarton to run out 2-1 winners. The Fife derby at Kirkcaldy was a cracker with 6 goals. Greig Stewart put Cowdenbeath ahead, Dougie Hill equalised, Calum Elliot then put Raith ahead only for Kane Hemmings to score from the spot. Callum Booth then put away a spot kick for Raith in the 83rd minute only for Kane Hemmings to pop up and equalise in injury time. Falkirk meanwhile visited Greenock and Kieran Duffy and Rory Loy managed to score the goals that spoiled Kenny Shiels’ official opening at Morton. Finally it was all square at Dumfries as Livingston went ahead in only the 4th minute through Marc McNulty before Michael Paton and Mark Durnan replied on behalf of Queen of the South to send them in at the interval 2-1 ahead. Marc McNulty then got his 2nd and the equaliser in the 77th minute for the spoils to be shared.

It means that Dundee (33) are at the top of the league with Hamilton Academical (31) now clearly chasing. Raith Rovers (29) remain 3rd with Falkirk (28) behind with a game in hand. Alloa Athletic (27) fell out of the play off spots but these 5 are now clear from the rest as there are 5 points now between them and Livingston (22). Dumbarton (21) and Queen of the South (19) remain mid table and with a bit of a cushion – 4 points – to the drop zone. Cowdenbeath (15) did get a very important boost with a draw and things may start to pick up in the east but the west looks grim for Greenock Morton (9) in last spot.

SPFL LEAGUE ONE

My match of the day saw Brechin City discover some form and some points at last as they beat East Fife 3-1 at home last Saturday. Andy Jackson, Bobby Barr and Derek Carcary giving them the goals that got them the points; Ryan Stewart got East Fife’s consolation. On Boxing Day Rangers saw their 100% league record disappear with Santa’s sleigh as Stranraer under Stephen Aitken came a calling and took away a point from Ibrox. A Lee McCulloch penalty had put the home side head only for Jamie Longworth to equalise for the Blues. Dunfermline stretched their lead in 2nd to 5 points as Andy Geggan, Ryan Thomson and Josh Falkingham scored the goals that beat Arbroath at Gayfield. In 4th Ayr United consolidated their spot as Kevin Kyle got the only goal of the game at Forfar Athletic. Finally Sean Dickson kept Stenhousemuir in the hunt with a late equaliser for the Warriors against Airdrie after Gregor Buchanan had put the Diamonds ahead.

It all means that Rangers (46) continue to be the favourites in Scotland to claim a championship first and Dunfermline (35) become favourites to claim a play off spot. Both have significant gaps with 3rd as Stranraer (30) sit 3rd but are now looking like they are serious candidates for a play off spot. Their 4 point gap with Ayr United (26) is significant and with another 4 points between the Honest Men and Stenhousemuir (22) it looks increasingly like the Warriors are in danger of missing the play off boat. Forfar Athletic (19) and Brechin City (19) with a bit of form under them could be serious issues for Stenny and particularly Brechin City who are due a bit of luck could start to click and cause them problems. East Fife (17) will hope new boss Gary Naysmith can start to catch both Brechin and Forfar as they leave Arbroath (14) and Airdrieonians (9) behind. Paul Sheerin is looking forlorn of late and the position of his team is increasingly concerning. As for Gary Bollan and Airdrie he will be looking for the services of Houdini to get him out of here or constantly phoning Ian Murray…

SPFL LEAGUE TWO

My match of the day saw Peterhead back on top after a Rory McAlister hat trick sank the Binos. They got a consolation through Ross Forsyth but a debut to forget was had by Luca Gasparotto who was sent off. Clyde kept on the Blue Toon’s coat tails thanks to goals from Michael Daly and Scott Ferguson who pulled things back at home for the Bully Wee against Albion Rovers; Michael Dunlop and Liam Cusack had put the wee Rovers 2-0 up. On Boxing Day Annan took 3rd spot as Kenny McKay and Josh Todd very late on sunk Montrose. It meant East Stirlingshire fell to 4th after Jamie Glasgow had scored the only goal of the game up north to beat Elgin City. There was another hat trick in the league when Scott Dalziel got 3 and Darren Lavery got 1 for Berwick Rangers as they sunk Queen’s Park and ended the career at the Spiders of the longest serving Scottish manager in Scottish football – Gardner Speirs!

It means that Peterhead (30) and Clyde (30) sit clear at the top with a 5 point gap between them and Annan Athletic (25) and East Stirlingshire (25) in the other play off spots. Finally the Blue Toon are showing some form and the battle with the Bully Wee looks like it could get very exciting. As the table has seen them break away the chasing pack continues to be within 3 points of each other and this gives an incredible edge to the season.  As it stands East Stirlingshire and Annan Athletic are in the front but closely behind come Stirling Albion (24), Albion Rovers (23), Berwick Rangers (22) and Montrose (22).  Elgin City (20) are beginning to fall off the pace a little and are in danger of just having a season that could drift as they do not look in danger of being caught by Queen’s Park (7). With Gardner Speirs leaving Hampden Park it could be an interesting opening for someone who would have the Gary Bollan role in searching for Houdini or also having Ian Murray’s number on speed dial!

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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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