The weekend saw some fierce action, as expected and brought with it important wins for the top 3 in the Championship, significant wins for the top three in League One and identical wins for the top three in League Two.
My match of the day saw Queen of the South dampen Dumbarton’s ardour in a 3-1 win that had Mark Durnan, Gavin Reilly and Bob McHugh on the score sheet for the home side whilst Michael Millar got a consolation for the visitors. Dundee maintained their grip at the top as Christian Nade and Peter MacDonald combined to thwart Morton at Dens Park. The Accies maintained their pressure as Louis Longridge, a James Keatings penalty and Tony Andreiu delivered a 3-0 win at Alloa. The Bairns were involved in the highest scoring game of the day as a Dougie Hill own goal, David McCracken, Rory Loy and Mark Millar sealed their 4 goals in a 4-2 win against Raith Rovers; John Baird and Callum Booth scored for the Kirkcaldy side. Finally Jason Talbot got the only goal of the game as Livingston beat Cowdenbeath.
It means that Dundee (49), Hamilton Academical (48) and Falkirk (46) are now out in front as the only serious contenders for the title. With one quarter of the season left I still would bet my house on Dundee.
As for the final play off spot it should be decided between Queen of the South (38) whose victory against them displaced Dumbarton (36) and Livingston (35) though Alloa Athletic (33) could have had some input. As it stands their form has dipped so much post Paul Hartley they are serious contenders for the relegation play offs.
Raith Rovers (32) had been my pick for 4th spot but they have seriously faded and the Ramsdens Cup Final may be their consolation – pity it’s against Rangers… Both Alloa and Raith are in the sights of Cowdenbeath (28) who are gaining through stealth and the bad luck of both the Wasps and Rovers. As for Greenock Morton (16) it really does look like it’s all over.
SPFL LEAGUE ONE
My match of the day saw Stranraer put down a clear marker for the play offs as Martin Grehan, from the spot, and 2 from David McKenna sunk the Pars with a Danny Grainger penalty for Dunfermline Athletic making the final score 3-1. League leaders Rangers needed a 93rd minute penalty by Lee McCulloch to sink East Fife at Bayview whilst Ayr United lost Adam Hunter and Kyle McAusland in their 90 minutes at the Shyberry Excelsior as Airdrie won 3-0 courtesy of Craig Barr, Liam Watt and a Keigan Parker penalty. Hot on Ayr’s heels are the Warriors who beat Forfar Athletic 4-1 with Darren Smith and Sean Dickson getting 2 goals apiece and Scott Malcolm getting the Loons’ consolation. Finally Arbroath beat Brechin City 4-2 with 2 from Bobby Linn and 1 apiece from Michael Travis and Paul McManus whilst Brechin had goals from Andy Jackson and Robert Thomson.
It means that Rangers (77) just need 4 more points to seal the league. Dunfermline Athletic (53) and Stranraer (42) remain on course to stay in their play off positions. On Tuesday night Stranraer v East Fife is another opportunity for the home side to cement that place. Stranraer will be without midfielder Chris Aitken and forward Mark Corcoran whilst East Fife shall be without Gary Fisher, Scott McBride, Cyrus Moosavi and Ryan Stewart. I think it hardly news or way out there to suggest a home win.
The real issue for the league and positions within it is 4th spot. I said it would take a meltdown from Ayr United (36) to put their 4th place in jeopardy. Games involving Stranraer, Dunfermline and Rangers have now achieved that and with a mountain of suspensions here it looks increasingly dicey for the Honest Men. On Tuesday night Ayr United v Forfar Athletic is yet another test for them. Ayr go into the match with no Michael Moffat, Adam Hunter or Kyle McAusland whilst Forfar have no Odmar Faeroe but hope to have Martyn Fotheringham back. I think this ought to be a close game and would not be surprised if it was honours even at the end of it.
The chasing pack of Stenhousemuir (33), Brechin City (31) and Forfar Athletic (29) will either influence who sits 4th or grab the spot themselves and of them all the Warriors are, for me, the most likely… Having said that wait till after Tuesday night.
At the bottom, Airdrieonians (25) have lifted themselves out of the bottom 2 on goal difference whilst East Fife (25) and Arbroath (21) are now sitting in the wrong places. East Fife have their game on Tuesday night so it could all different afterwards. I have my doubts and it may go to the wire as to just who will remain in League One next year.
SPFL LEAGUE TWO
My match of the day saw Peterhead slam 4 past East Stirlingshire through Jordan Brown, a Jordan Tapping own goal, a Rory McAlister penalty and 1 from Andy Rodgers. Unfortunately football was not the headline maker after such a significant win and we shall be hearing more about the game and racist abuse over time. Annan Athletic also won 4-0 thanks to an Ally Love penalty, 2 from Kenny McKay and 1 from Peter Watson against Berwick Rangers. Not to be outdone, Clyde also weighed in with a 4-0 victory at home to Elgin City as Scott Ferguson, 2 from Michael Daly and 1 from Gordon Young did the damage. Also on Saturday Gary Phillips had put Albion Rovers in front but Scott Johnston and Terry Masson got the goals that gave Montrose the victory against them. Finally Queen’s Park got a point as Blair Spittal and Gavin Mitchell put them ahead only for the Binos to come back and get that draw thanks to a Scott Gibson own goal and 1 from Craig Currie.
It means that on Tuesday night Peterhead v Annan Athletic is a hot top 2 clash. Peterhead (52) are sitting 5 points ahead of Annan Athletic (47) and this gap will, I think be extended on Tuesday.
Underneath the battle for the play off sees Clyde (42), Stirling Albion (40) and East Stirlingshire (38) the most likely contenders. For Montrose (35), Albion Rovers (35) and Berwick Rangers (34) it may all be over whilst for Elgin City (27) Barry Wilson has admitted that it is. Queen’s Park (15) are bottom.