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SPFL Lower League Review – Saturday 30th August 2014

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It was a bumper day for goals in some of the ties at the weekend and once the dust settled – Hearts, Ayr United and Arbroath were still at the top of their leagues… Now how did they stay there…

CHAMPIONSHIP

My match of the day saw 5 of those bumper goals as Heart of Midlothian swept Falkirk away 4-1 with an Osman Sow penalty, Jordan McGhee and a Billy King double doing it for Hearts; the Bairns had Prince Bauben sent off and Botti Bia-Bi got their consolation. Hibernian were not as fortunate as their Edinburgh rivals as Alloa Athletic came from behind to beat them 2-1. Jason Cummings had put the Hibees ahead before Liam Buchanan got the equaliser and Iain Flannigan the winner. Cowdenbeath were beaten 3-1 in their derby against Raith Rovers as Mark Stewart, Lewis Vaughan and Ryan Conroy scored for the Kirkcaldy side whilst Lewis Milne managed a consolation for the Blue Brazil. Over at the Bet Butler Chris Kane got the only goal of the game for Dumbarton against Livingston whilst Rangers toiled but eventually beat Queen of the South at Palmerston. Gavin Reilly and Iain Russell put the Doonhamers ahead twice but Marius Zaliukas and David Templeton squared it for the visitors before Bilel Mohsni and Kenny Miller won it for Rangers.

It means that Hearts (12) remain top but coming up on the inside are Rangers (9) and Raith Rovers (9). I don’t think the Rovers will last the pace whilst Rangers seem to be finding a stride. Queen of the South (7) are in the final playoff spot with Alloa Athletic (6) just beneath. But whither are Hibs?

Four games in we find Livingston (4) and Falkirk (4) above them and we perhaps have the answer to which of the “Big Three” will remain in the Championship after this season. Hibernian (3) sit 8th alongside Dumbarton (3). Cowdenbeath (1) are possibly going to become detached soon if they do not start picking up points after the International break. Their next two games? Against Hibs and Hearts…

LEAGUE ONE

My match of the day ended all square as Jordon Brown equalised late on for Peterhead who had gone behind to Brechin City’s Paul McLean. In another draw Airdrieonians and Stirling Albion couldn’t find the net as a 5 goal thriller unravelled at Station Park. It was home side, Forfar Athletic whowon 3-2 against Greenock Morton with Gavin Swankie netting twice and Danny Denholm also on the scoresheet for the home side; Declan McManus and Reece Hands got the goals for Morton. League leaders Ayr United were held to a 1-1 draw against Stenhousemuir after Ryan Donnelly opened for the Honest Men but Martin Grehan levelled for the Warriors. Finally Dunfermline Athletic came away from Stranraer with all 3 points as Gozie Ugwu opened for the Pars, Willie Gibson got one back for the home side and Michael Moffat sealed the win; Ross Millen for Dunfermline and Craig Malcom for Stranraer were sent for early baths.

It means that Ayr United (10) remain top though Dunfermline Athletic (7) and Forfar Athletic (7) sit just 3 points behind. Greenock Morton (6) and Brechin City (6) are equally in the right place to make a push for a playoff spot whilst newly promoted Peterhead (5) and Stirling Albion (5) are comfy.

Stenhousemuir (4), Stranraer (2) and Airdrieonians (1) are far from comfy and for each it’s a far cry from last year. Then Scott Booth had Stenny looking like they could have got a playoff spot and now they along with the other two teams are struggling. Stranraer had big expectations following what Stephen Aitken had achieved last time round but are they likely to fall back down again a la Arbroath? Airdrie just wanted a season to begin without them in a relegation battle – was it too much to ask? Seems so…

LEAGUE TWO

My match of the day saw Arbroath beat Montrose handsomely 3-1 and stay at the top as Bobby Linn, Kevin Buchan and Simon Murray scored for the Red Lichties whilst Graham Webster scored for the visitors who had Declan O’Kane sent off. The Wee Rovers got past Queen’s Park with a Marc McKenzie goal that sends Albion Rovers into second while Annan Athletic and Elgin City fought out a dramatic 3-3 draw. Josh Todd, Kenny MacKay and Derek Carcary scored for Annan whilst Marvin Andrews, Craig Gunn from the spot and Archie McPhee scored for Elgin. It was also 3-3 at Broadwood as Barry Ferguson’s Clyde fought back through Scott McManus – twice, once from the spot – and Michael Daly equalled strikes from Berwick Ranger’s Jonny Fairbairn, Lee Currie and David Gold. For the Borderers Lee Currie was also sent off. Finally East Fife got their win against East Stirlingshire as Jon McShane, Kevin Smith and David Maskrey got their three and Jordan Tapping got the Shire’s one.

It all means that Arbroath (12) are still out in front but Albion Rovers (9) look like they want to make it a competition. Berwick Rangers (7) and Elgin City (7) are early in the playoff spots and the pack behind includes Montrose (6) and Clyde (4). Much is expected of the Bully Wee and they have put in the performances to suggest this may be their year but they just need the right rhythm. East Fife (3), Queen’s Park (3) and East Stirlingshire (3) sit close by with Annan Athletic (1) in bottom spot. The current bottom two meet on the 20th September which should go some way to resolve who will sit bottom after the first quarter.

Just so that they are aware of what bottom spot means, last weekend in the Lowland League leaders Edinburgh City drew 1-1 with Stirling University and remain top but East Kilbride are 3 points behind with a game in hand. In the Highland league Inverurie Loco Works remain top but Brora Rangers are 2 points behind with a game in hand. What may be alarming to teams at the bottom of League Two is the combined firepower in the Highland League. Brora beat Huntly 6-0 on Saturday whilst Inverurie went one better and beat Rothes 7-0…

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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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