It was yet another week of twists, turns and headlines for Rangers Football Club. As the gift that lasts longer than Christmas – of any year – this is a saga of Greek, Roman and Viking proportions. It leaves the support, mystified, the rest of us, terrified and Scottish Football, seeking people to clarify what is going on, what has gone and who is not speaking to whom… Frankly I am lost too…
What was not lost, on me at least, was my match of the day last weekend which saw the Edinburgh derby end up with a goal and a point apiece. Jason Cummings gave Hibernian the lead before Heart of Midlothian equalised through Jamie Walker. Rangers, in a disjointed performance, managed a 3-1 win at home against Dumbarton. Andy Graham put the Sons ahead before Jon Daly, Lee Wallace and Dean Shiels got the goals for the club in crisis. Queen of the South also won 3-1 at home to Livingston. It was Andy Dowie, Derek Lyle and Iain Russell who got the goals for the Doonhamers as Jordan White got the goal for the Lions. Rory Loy then got the only goal of the game for Falkirk against Alloa Athletic whilst Christian Nade also got the only goal of the game as Raith Rovers beat Cowdenbeath.
With a 13 point gap Hearts (51) are well in command but in just under a week shall entertain Rangers (38) at home. Rangers will need to win it to have any chance of catching them. Just what state the club shall be in by that time who knows. Bet they are in crisis though.
The playoff spots beneath Rangers now boast a three way tussle for two places. Hibernian (32), Queen of the South (32) and Falkirk (29) are the clubs that shall share the dogfight. The way that Hibs have managed to rally over the last few weeks is impressive whilst Peter Houston picked up the December Manager off the Month Award at Falkirk. It means that James Fowler’s Queen of the South are looking the most vulnerable. Having said that they keep putting in the performances.
Mid table has Raith Rovers (24) and Dumbarton (22) sitting with little to trouble them apart from supports who may feel they should be challenging above rather than worrying about what is happening below.
Below we have Cowdenbeath (14) fighting hard and making headway to stay in the division whilst Alloa Athletic (13) need to get some results. Livingston (7) are some way away and look like they are going to take the tumble. Getting beaten by Queen of the South last week for the Lions may be no disgrace but games can start to disappear quickly from which you would hope to pick up the points to keep you in the division.
So what about this weekend?
Match of the Day
Hibernian v Falkirk
Here we have the form team of the moment that beat Rangers and then drew away at the home of their greatest rivals. The tough games do come hard and fast though as the Bairns have the manager of the month for December at the helm and they are only three points behind their hosts. For Hibernian they will probably see Franck Dja Djedje as Dominique Malonga is off to play in the African Nations Cup. Jason Cummings, as widely reported shall be available whilst David Gray is out and Mark Oxley has extended his loan with the club. For Falkirk they shall be missing Aaron Muirhead and Botti Biabi, though Mark Kerr and Alex Cooper look like they are in. Jamie MacDonald looks to be fine whilst Scott Shepherd is off to Stirling Albion on loan and Ryan McGeever is off to Arbroath. For me, I reckon this is going to be tight but Hibernian need to win this if they are going to keep hold of third spot and also if a serious challenge to Rangers in second is to be mounted. We might find that fanciful but you never know. For Falkirk, Peter Houston will want that final playoff spot. I thought at the beginning of the season that they were favourites for it. It has taken some time for the team to click but now they are in a zone. I still fancy Hibs to win but Falkirk will make it very tight.
Dumbarton v Heart of Midlothian has a home side that lost at Ibrox facing the league leaders. Iain Murray was full of praise for his part time squad against the stars of Ibrox though they lost; I reckon today he will see spirit, desire and effort but an empty pocket of points at the end of it. Alloa Athletic v Rangers has the Ibrox side’s bogey team for this year hosting them after losing last week to Falkirk. Rangers got their win against Dumbarton but were far from silky. This week competent will be enough to win but again they are apt to find their foot, pick up a gun and shoot it… they are also more than likely to miss – hard one to call.
Raith Rovers v Queen of the South has the home side off their win against Cowdenbeath up against a Doonhamers crew that beat Livingston comfortably. That may suggest that the visitors are the most likely to win but I reckon Grant Murray’ team will upset the apple cart today. Finally Livingston v Cowdenbeath has both teams in dire straits with losses last weekend. As Jimmy Nichol’s loss was the lower of the two that may be as good a guide as any but Cowdenbeath have been grinding out points recently. Today I reckon they shall manage it again.
MATCH POSTPONED – DUE TO CONCERNS WITH PLAYER SAFETY.