Last Saturday my match of the day saw honours even as Stephen Stirling for Stenhousemuir equalised Jamie Longworth’s opener for Stranraer. The Sunday game saw Rangers maintain their unbeaten record at Glebe Park as Fraser Aird put them ahead, Robert Thomson equalised for Brechin City before Nicky Clark won it for the visitors. The surprise of the day came at East End Park where Lawrence Shankland had put Dunfermline Athletic ahead, a Liam Buchanan penalty levelled it and then Nathan Austin scored to win it for struggling East Fife. 3rd placed Ayr United won their 3rd game in a row thanks to Craig Malcom and Michael Moffat whilst Michael Donald got sent off; the ever green Kenny Deuchar got one back for Arbroath. Gary Bollan’s Airdrie continued their fine run of form as Gregor Buchanan, Jamie Bain, Keigan Parker, Jim Lister and Liam Watt got their 5 to 1 reply from Forfar Athletic’s Dale Hilson; Iain Campbell got sent off for the Loons.
It means that champions Rangers (86) are simply gathering points week on week. With only 6 games – including today’s – left they are chasing the magical 100.
The battle for the playoffs has Dunfermline Athletic (54) able to claim safety today with a win whilst Stranraer (46) are slippier than Bambi on ice, Ayr United (45) have found a decent bit of form and realistically now it is only Forfar Athletic (39) and Stenhousemuir (38) in with slim chances of catching either of them. Ayr had been guilty of letting things slip and now it is Stranraer that the Loons and the Warriors may well catch. I still think that both of them have enough to keep their places but it is getting dicey for Stephen Aitken’s men.
Down the bottom Brechin City (32) need to be careful; they started the year with a bit of a fanfare and questions may well be asked over the summer – if not beforehand. Airdrieonians (31) are resurgent under Gary Bollan and I think will avoid anything tagged with the word relegation come the end of the season; they are a revelation from the team that was under jimmy Boyle. East Fife (28) boosted their hopes last weekend but they have an awful lot to do to get out of 9th whilst Arbroath (24) do look doomed…
My match of the day is back home in Ayrshire as Ayr United v Stenhousemuir shall have a marked impact upon the playoff places. The home side have won 3 on the bounce with a 10 man win against Arbroath at home last weekend following the previous 2 games being 5-0 victories. The visitors have become Scotland’s draw specialists and they managed their 9th straight game undefeated with Stranraer last weekend – they were very lucky though… Robbie Crawford and Michael Donald are absent for Ayr whilst Scott Booth will be hoping Bryan Hodge makes it. I reckon this will be another home win – and I am not just saying that as an Ayr fan – but truly believe that Ayr have got past their howlingly bad run of form and will start to pick things up in the run in. It will be harsh on Stenny as they have proven to be tighter and better under Booth but I do think it’s next season for them.
Arbroath v Rangers has the home side looking like they cannot buy a win. The visit of champions Rangers shall not help after they couldn’t beat 10 man Ayr last weekend and Rangers were beating Brechin City 2-1 comfortably away from home. Rangers have a 100% away record this season and I cannot see that change at the end of today. Dunfermline Athletic v Brechin City has a home side that was shocked in a 2-1 defeat last weekend by East Fife facing a Brechin side that lost to Rangers and seem to have lost their way this season. This, I do believe shall be another wrong turn on that odyssey and see the Pars getting all 3 points.
Stranraer v Airdrieonians could have been the match of the day for as this is a game that could swing either way. Stephen Aitken’s side are wobbling whilst Gary Bollan’s side have truly found their stride. Stranraer were dealt a hammer blow last weekend as Stenhousemuir struck an equaliser in the 94th minute whilst Airdrie were 5-1 victors against Forfar Athletic. That’s the reason I am going for an away win and no let up for the South West side. Finally Forfar Athletic v East Fife has 2 sides that are struggling to maintain form though Forfar are sitting in a far better position than East Fife. Forfar’s 5-1 loss to Airdrie was a sickener whilst East Fife’s 2-1 win at East End Park was a huge surprise. I reckon today it will be a home win as the powers of recovery for Dick Campbell’s men will be more impressive than East Fife’s ability to start a run.