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SPFL Lower League Preview – Friday 12th/Saturday 13th September 2014

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With the international break now over we can look forward to many corners, offsides and the odd lucky break being debated over the weekend from the comfort of standing on the terraces. The question, as always, will be – just how many of these debating points shall be all THAT important come Saturday night.

CHAMPIONSHIP

Match of the Weekend

Raith Rovers v Rangers

With both sides looking to catch Hearts at the top this ought to be a classic. With a summer evening, under the floodlights promised as it happens on a Friday this has everything going for it. For the visitors they won’t have Kenny Miller going for it though Fraser Foster is available and Cammy Bell and Jon Daly are closer to a return – tonight may be too soon. Ally McCoist is waiting to see just how Bilel Mohsni feels after his international break to decide on whether he plays. For Raith Grant Murray may want to pack his midfield after the shambles of the Hearts game and picking the right strike force may well be vital tonight. Rovers will hope to meet the team they encountered at the Ramsdens Cup Final – Rangers will hope they have been banished into history… I think Rangers should come back home with 3 points but Raith may make quite a fight of it so it will it not be an easy tonight off the street of Raith.

Dumbarton v Hearts is a very tricky tie for home manager Ian Murray. Their win against Livingston a fortnight ago was on the back of a disappointing start to the season and any momentum from it may well be lost. Robbie Neilson will hope the curse of the manager of the month title does not strike as their great start needs to be maintained. For me this is likely to be the second away win of the weekend. Falkirk v Queen of the South has the managerless Doonhamers making a trip that comes after losing a hard fought game 4-2 against Rangers two weeks since. The Bairns also let in 4 goals that day and then lost last weekend in the quarter final of the Petrofac Cup to Stranraer. It makes it difficult to call however I do think it likely Peter Houston will want to wipe away all those painful memories. So whilst people are filling in job applications for Palmerston this may end up being a loss for the Dumfries side.

Hibernian v Cowdenbeath has two teams just wanting a win. I don’t think either of them shall care how they get it as last time out in the league both lost. Hibs went down to Alloa whilst the Blue Brazil lost to near neighbours Raith. It is already looking like tough seasons for both sets of supporters and I reckon it may end up a draw though fancy Hibs to just shade it. Finally Livingston v Alloa Athletic has two semi finalists from the Petrofac Cup who navigated their ties last weekend with single goal victories. Prior to that Alloa beat Hibs in the league but Livingston lost to Dumbarton. Both shall hope the boost of the cup last weekend bounces them through this weekend’s fixture. My money would be on a home win.

LEAGUE ONE

Match of the Day

Forfar Athletic v Peterhead

With most of the matches much of a muchness this weekend and lots of them looking like bottom v top and middle v bottom matches this one appeals as possibly a very close call. The Loons won a 5 goal thriller against Morton two weeks ago whilst the Blue Toon drew with Brechin late on and then lost by a single goal in the Petrofac Training Cup quarter final to Livingston. Forfar will welcome new signing Jim Paterson whilst out should still be Chris Templeman, Martyn Fotheringham and Aaron James. They will be joined on the side lines by Andrew Steeves. Jim McInally will hope that the disappointment of losing to Livingston in extra time last weekend won’t cause them too much trouble and I fancy a Blue Toon win.

Ayr United v Stranraer has the league leaders entertaining their near neighbours who boast a decent number of former Honest Men amongst their squad. Ayr only managed to draw a fortnight ago whilst the Blues lost to Dunfermline and then pulled off the shock of the Petrofac Training Cup quarter finals by beating Falkirk. Stranraer have a squad that matches their budget and need a decent run mid season to battle for the top of the table. Ayr have managed a decent squad that is a blend of youth and experience and I fancy they shall stop Stranraer getting onto that decent mid season run from this tie. Dunfermline Athletic v Stenhousemuir has the Pars having beaten Stranraer two weeks ago up against a Warrior side that got a draw against Ayr. Dunfermline should win this by stealth which is how I expect them to win the league – steadily and carefully.

Greenock Morton v Airdrieonians is a tie a few seasons ago that would have been a plum one in the First Division. Now it looks like Gary Bollan’s side need this slightly more than Jim Duffy’s as they sit at the bottom of the league. Morton have lost their last two games – to Forfar in the league and then Alloa in the Petrofac Training Cup quarter final. Airdrie got their first point a fortnight ago against Stirling Albion; I reckon today they might get their second. Finally Stirling Albion v Brechin City has two teams that drew last time out in the league. Separated by one point these two could end up drawing but I think that Brechin may have enough to take full points.

LEAGUE TWO

Match of the Day

Montrose v Albion Rovers

Two weeks ago Montrose’s decent start to the season came to an abrupt halt when they lost to Arbroath. They sit with a game in hand and are only 3 points behind the Wee Rovers before this game. More changes in the boardroom may make them sound like a Wee Rangers rather than a Wee Rovers but it is clear there are things happening in Coatbridge these days. It makes this the tie of the weekend in League Two for me and I reckon it could be 3 points coming back to Cliftonhill at the end of it.

Annan Athletic v Berwick Rangers has two of the four teams last time out in the league that shared 6 goals in huge draws. Annan were locked with Elgin whilst Berwick shared the limelight with Clyde. For me this is more likely to end up an away win in the battle of the Borders. Arbroath v East Fife has the high flying league leaders up against a Fife team that got a great result against East Stirlingshire two weeks ago… Thing is it was against the Shire. With the Red Lichties on fire this ought to be another 3 points on the board for them.

East Stirlingshire v Clyde has a home side that are simply struggling. If any club needed three points today it is the Shire. They will start to become detached soon and Craig Tully must be wondering, after the start that they made last year what he has actually taken on. Barry Ferguson saw his side show great fight to draw with Berwick a fortnight ago and I cannot see past them in this tie. Finally Queen’s Park v Elgin City finds the Spiders having lost two weeks ago and they are very short of points on the board. Just how long it takes to recover from losing half of your team could be a PhD topic at the Spiders but they need a win soon. Elgin fought a 3-3 draw with Annan last time out and they shall be keen to maintain their spot in the playoff place. For me Gus McPherson has to catch a break soon… wonder when that will be…

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About Author

A lifelong supporter, since seeing Alex Ferguson play for them, of Ayr United he now contributes here, at KickTalk and Ringside Reports for things sporty. He is also a theatrical type and an educationalist. As an Ayr fan he clearly can explain the inexplicable, place fanatical faith in the most fantastic of dreams and deal with dark periods of depression and disappointment. Perfect as a teacher..

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