Last weekend the top two in the Championship pulled further ahead, before they managed to maintain their momentum on Tuesday night. This weekend we are therefore looking at some tight ties that could determine some fates at the top and at the bottom of the league…
SPFL CHAMPIONSHIP REVIEW – SATURDAY AND TUESDAY
Last Saturday my match of the day had 6 goals as Livingston saw off Raith Rovers at Kirkcaldy. Craig Sives and Marc McNulty both got 2 goals each whilst John Baird and Jason Thomson got the 2 in reply for Raith. Dundee maintained their 1 point advantage at the top of the league thanks to a late winner from Peter MacDonald whilst Dumbarton’s Bryan Prunty missed a penalty seconds later. Hamilton Academical stay in the title hunt after beating Greenock Morton 4-3. Morton equalised 3 times through Rowan Vine, Marc Fitzpatrick and Garry O’Connor as Jason Scotland and Louis Longridge (twice) continually put Accies ahead before substitute Mikael Antoine-Courier netted the 7th goal of the game to give Alex Neil’s side all 3 points. Alloa Athletic dented Falkirk’s charge towards the playoffs as Eddie Ferns, Kevin Cawley and Ryan McCord got the Wasps’ 3 goals and 3 points. Finally Queen of the South had Chris Higgins and Gavin Reilly on the scoresheet before Cowdenbeath’s Sammy Stewart got one back for the Blue Brazil.
It teed up Tuesday night wonderfully well as Dundee then had Iain Davidson take out Queen of the South whilst Jason Scotland got a very late winner for Hamilton Academical at home to Raith Rovers; Tony Andreu and James Keatings had managed to score for the Accies whilst a John Baird double had kept Raith at the races. David McCracken and Rory Loy got the 2 goals that gave Falkirk victory over Dumbarton to stay 3rd as Livingston got closer through a Marc McNulty penalty and Keaghan Jacobs strike to see off Alloa Athletic. Finally the game of the night saw the Blue Brazil pull further away from Greenock Morton as 2 from Kyle Miller and 1 from Greg Stewart got the 3 points at home.
Both sets of fixtures mean that Dundee (59) and Hamilton Academical (58) are locked in the battle for the title. They clash on the 5th April – which isn’t that far away and it will be the biggest game of the season.
Underneath Falkirk (50), Queen of the South (45), Livingston (42) and Dumbarton (39) are likely to contest 3rd and 4th spots and there are wild results happening all over the shop. I think Falkirk shall be fine but 4th spot is likely to be a bit of a lottery. Queen of the South were on form till Tuesday and will need to regain that momentum if they truly want 4th spot. Both Dumbarton and Livingston are capable but they both need to be on their guard.
Raith Rover’s (36) two losses has killed off, I believe, their playoff hopes. Both Dumbarton and Livingston are not far enough away from the relegation mix just yet but Alloa Athletic (37) did themselves a lot of favours at the weekend before Livingston put them to the sword on Tuesday night. Raith Rovers (36) may have stumbled on Saturday but so did Cowdenbeath (32) who nevertheless got back on track on Tuesday. Greenock Morton (16) had appalling luck at the weekend, well beaten on Tuesday and they can now be confirmed in a relegation spot this weekend.
PREVIEW – SATURDAY 29TH MARCH 2014
Match of the Day
Dundee v Falkirk
As Paul Hartley’s men come off a decent win against Queen of the South as well as having beaten Dumbarton by a single goal last Saturday they are showing the rub of the green which championship winning sides need; they are not playing particularly well but putting the points on the board. The Bairns managed to convincingly beat Dumbarton on Tuesday night and Grant Holt shall be looking to build upon that, putting some momentum behind their run in. This may well be a game too far for that to happen and I reckon Dundee may well shade it today. Kyle Benedictus misses out, Gary Irvine is a doubt though Kevin McBride returns for Dundee whilst Falkirk will only be missing Kieran Duffie in a game that if they lose, Falkirk can kiss goodbye to making up ground on the title.
Cowdenbeath v Hamilton Academical has a home side that entertained Greenock Morton on Tuesday night and all but relegated them with a 3-0 win. The Accies are showing signs that they are still very much in the hunt for the title as they won an epic 5 goal thriller at New Douglas Park against Raith Rovers. I continue to believe that Jimmy Nichol will get the Blue Brazil out the relegation zone and think that Alex Neil’s side shall falter as they draw at Central Park. Queen of the South v Greenock Morton is highly significant for Kenny Shiel’s team. Today they could be confirmed as being in the relegation bottom 2. The Doonhamers lost narrowly to Dundee on Tuesday whilst Morton were visiting Cowdenbeath for another fatal blow as they lost 3-0. I have no doubt that we shall see Jim McIntyre’s side triumph and the season for Morton shall stagger to a conclusion.
Livingston v Dumbarton has 2 very good footballing sides trying to get back into the top 4. Livingston won at home to Alloa on Tuesday whilst Dumbarton lost away at Falkirk. I think that the Sons will get back to winning ways and John McGlynn’s side will realise that getting out of the early season trouble they were in should be seen as them having had a decent season. Finally Alloa Athletic v Raith Rovers sees 2 teams that were once hanging on the play off coat tails in a game that follows losses for both sides midweek; Alloa lost to Livingston whilst Raith lost to Hamilton. I have a sneaking suspicion this may turn out to be honours even.