This is yet another big weekend in the campaign with Hearts restored to the top, Rangers having got to the Quarter Finals of the Cup and Hibernian joining them by beating Premiership opposition as we look towards another weekend waiting to see if Cowdenbeath can record their first win of the league season. It is also a three day weekend with matches on Saturday, Sunday and Monday – honestly it’s beginning to feel like the best league in Scotland…
Match of the Day
Ranger v Hibernian – MONDAY
Rangers managed to lift themselves up from their disappointment last weekend when they drew with Alloa to beat Falkirk 3-1 midweek in the Cup. This was never going to be a straight forward season for the Ibrox club and much sympathy goes to their support. The off field antics are never far away and Ally McCoist has had to contend with that, doubts over his stewardship on the park and massive expectations that gaining promotion by winning the league is possible. Alan Stubbs on the other hand has had less time to contend with off field antics and takeover bids, doubts that follow every Hibs manager and massive expectations that the faithful in Leith will find a winning formula but has suffered much of the same. His team, having lost at the weekend at Queen of the South got a massive boost by beating Ross County 2-0 in the League Cup. For rangers it is looking like they will have the same squad as they did against Falkirk from which to choose whilst Hibernian will wait to see who is fit but it will certainly not include Leigh Griffiths. Linked with a move back to Easter Road with many suggesting Celtic were approached by Hibs, Ronny Deila has ruled an emergency loan out. It has left the choice of referee to be the biggest talking point between Stubbs and McCoist… wonder if Griffiths could take the whistle? If this was a contest between supporters for the tag of most put upon supporters of Scottish football there would be much to debate. Unfortunately it’s down to the football and, at Ibrox, I think there is only one winner.
Cowdenbeath v Queen of the South (Saturday) has the Blue Brazil off a heavy defeat to Hearts last weekend facing the Doonhamers who beat Hibernian. With Jamie Fowler being interviewed on the pitch every week for the vacant Queen of the South job and impressing this could be another difficult weekend for Jimmy Nichol. Dumbarton v Alloa Athletic (Saturday) is a game that Ian Murray needs to win. Their draw with Falkirk last weekend, like Alloa’s with Rangers saw a vital point gathered. It is not, however, for either club enough for this season. They both need the win and I fancy the home side this time round.
Heart of Midlothian v Livingston (Sunday) would have been a contender for match of the weekend but for Livingston’s poor run of form over the last week. They lost by a single goal to Raith and then were thrashed 5-1 by Aberdeen in the Cup. John McGlynn’s side are certainly capable of beating Hearts – they managed it in the Cup at home handsomely – but today I reckon Robbie Nielson’s side will triumph. They smashed Cowdenbeath 5-1 last Saturday and then pushed Celtic close in the League Cup before being beaten. Finally Raith Rovers v Falkirk (Saturday) has the Kirkcaldy side having beaten Livingston last weekend looking to build some momentum. The Bairns may have lost midweek to Rangers and drew with Dumbarton last Saturday but this is the kind of game they know that they need to start winning to climb up the table. I reckon Peter Houston will have a wide grin come quarter to five.