The biggest talking points this week have all been about grounds and their names. The wrangle over Mike Ashley and Rangers can be put to one side as Alloa Athletic have announced their stadium will now be known as the Indodrill Stadium. Dumbarton – no stranger to new names for their ground as it began life as the Strathclyde Homes Stadium – have announced that after over a decade at the Bet Butler Stadium (of course it has not been known as that for a decade) they have submitted plans to move to a new 4,000 seater stadium elsewhere in Dumbarton. Of course Ibrox, Recreation Park and whatever the fans decide to call the new Dumbarton ground will live with us forever.
The cup tie during the week may have heralded to some that Rangers have found the right track but as we all know, the pony shows in the cup come second to the bread and butter of the league competitions. For Rangers they may need to understand the rule of cup for lower league cups; there is no point in knocking out a Premiership club in the cup if you lose the next Saturday in the league – supporters just get confused. There is no confusion, however, as to how important for many clubs this Saturday has become.
Match of the Day
Livingston v Raith Rovers is 5th v 2nd in the league and it is the rollercoaster form of the home team has attracted me to this tie. They have notched some notable victories including last weekend when they dispatched Alloa Athletic with ease 4-0 – they also beat Hearts in the cup 4-0. Their inconsistency in the league, however, has seen losses to Dumbarton and Hibs whilst picking up a draw with Queen of the South. The Lions will need to sort themselves out and pick up points with teams around them – like against Raith Rovers – to have any serious chance of being in playoff contention by the end of the season; that is, however, the same for any other of the seven teams not being touted as potential champions. Raith lost to Rangers 4-0 last weekend and for some it led to a ridiculous call for a change of manager… Having got Raith the Ramsdens Cup it would seem even Grant Murray is not immune from the post cup party sacking phenomena in Scottish football. To be fair, playing Rangers at home was no guarantee of points on the board and fans should recognise that. Raith have a number of key and highly influential players, including a couple signed during the summer – Kevin Cuthbert and Craig Barr, who join Dougie Hill as long term injury victims. For Raith apart from those who have been through operations and are long term casualties Barry McKay is available and Christian Nade may be in contention. With both teams having played in high scoring games in the recent past this is one game where we could expect a big tally. Likelihood is that, of course it ends up a goalless draw!
Alloa Athletic v Rangers has the home side looking for a bit of a boost after shipping 4 goals to Livingston last week. Meanwhile Nicky Law of Rangers has claimed that things have never been better at the Ibrox club. That does sound ominous for the Wasps as Rangers have beaten Raith Rovers 4-0 and then Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the Cup in the last 8 days. It is therefore, for me, about how many rather than who wins. Falkirk v Dumbarton is a tricky tie to predict. The Bairns drew with managerless Queen of the South last weekend when they would have been favourites to win. The Sons got a plucky draw with Hearts at the Bet Butler and they really needed that result. As they both sit 8th and 9th with 1 point between them this ought to be a passionate contest. For me I reckon Dumbarton shall get something out of it.
Heart of Midlothian v Cowdenbeath has the home side, coming off a decent showing against Dumbarton last weekend where they pressed but couldn’t find the winner. The Blue Brazil languish in last and had their hearts broken last weekend when Hibernian got a last gap winner. It is literally top versus bottom and I reckon the home side will keep the three points today. Finally Queen of the South v Hibernian is another tricky tie, not least as Queen of the South have still not announced a new manager. Hibs have really, really upset their manager Alan Stubbs as he has threatened to leave anyone in the stand if they do not show some fight. Their win against Cowdenbeath was by the skin of their teeth and I expect today that Hibs shall build on that. For Queen of the South the need to build on the work of both Allan Johnston and Jim McIntyre is delaying a decision as they take their time. Having got the draw last weekend caretaker James Fowler could strengthen his hand for the job permanently. It’s a critical appointment for the Doonhamers and one many managers would relish. Today though I expect the Directors of the Dumfries side will see why it is important to get the appointment resolved sooner rather than later.