Scott Binnie brings us the latest results from Scotland, from the SPL down to the Third Division.
The biggest result in the SPL saw bottom of the table St Johnstone record their first win of the season with a 2-1 home victory over stuttering champions Celtic. Celtic went a goal up inside five minutes through Kris Commons and with Saints missing as many as seven players due to illness, it looked like a romp was on the cards. That was not to be the case though and Steve Lomas’ team rallied against the Hoops, who saw new signing Miku make his debut up front alongside Gary Hooper as captain Scott Brown returned from injury in midfield.
Celtic were denied a very strong shout for a penalty when Steven Anderson fouled Commons in the box, replays showing that Anderson was lucky not to be sent off. That seemed to set the tone for a frustrating afternoon in Perth for Neil Lennon’s men and the equaliser soon came when last year’s Player of the Year Charlie Mulgrew was undone by Gregory Tade’s pace on the edge of the box, the big striker peeling off of the centre back and tearing away before firing past Fraser Forster.
Saints’ winner came with 10 minutes left of the game, Rowan Vine curling a delightful shot from outside the box into Fraser Forster’s top corner. Along with results elsewhere, the win was enough to lift St Johnstone off of the bottom of the SPL and keep Celtic waiting to rise to the top of a division they were fancied to win with absolute ease. On this display, it looks like some of the players might have thought that too.
Elsewhere in the SPL, Motherwell retained their hold on top spot with a 2-1 win away to Dundee, a brace from Michael Higdon in the last fifteen minutes enough to cancel out Colin Nish’s first half opener at Dens Park. Crosses from Tom Hateley and substitute Henrik Ojamaa set up Englishman Higdon who continued his great run of scoring form with six goals in his last three.
Hibernian are keeping pace with Motherwell after another ground-out victory, this time over Kilmarnock at Easter Road. A first half double from Leigh Griffiths came either side of Danny Racchi’s equaliser as Pat Fenlon’s team continued their great start to the campaign.
There was a bit of a northern battle between Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Aberdeen at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium. Both sides ended the game with 10 men, Owain Tudur Jones seeing red for the home side after 55 minutes for a strong challenge and Dons captain Russell Anderson getting his marching orders for abusive language 11 minutes later. The game finished 1-1, Richie Foran scoring from the spot after 67 minutes for Caley and teenager Cammie Smith notching his first Aberdeen goal on 84 minutes after coming on as a late substitute.
In Saturday’s other game St Mirren beat Hearts 2-0 at home following first half goals from Jim Goodwin and Lewis Guy, Goodwin’s goal an absolute peach from 40 yards. Hearts boss John McGlynn was left ruing his side’s poor finishing as the Jambos dropped to ninth in the table.
The Friday Football Experiment continued last week when First Division champions Ross County travelled to Tannadice to face Dundee United, and many could have predicted the final result – a goalless draw. This is the fourth 0-0 the Staggies have had already this season and, remarkably, they are now forty games unbeaten in the league.
The First Division round-up starts with the seven-goal thriller at Central Park between Cowdenbeath and Morton. Peter Weatherston scored twice in the opening 25 minutes for Morton before John Armstrong got the Blue Brazil back in the game just before half time. Goals from Archie Campbell and David O’Brien had Morton 4-1 up before an hour had passed, and they looked to be cruising home before Cowdenbeath scored in the 82nd minute through Mark Ramsay’s close range effort. The hosts threatened to steal a point when Jamie Stevenson headed Cowdenbeath’s third in the 90th minute but Morton held on to take the three points with the stunning 4-3 victory.
Jackie McNamara’s Partick Thistle went into the day top of the table in blistering form and they put Livingston to the sword at Almondvale to keep hold of top spot and a 100% record so far this season in Scotland’s second tier. Goals either side of half time from Steven Lawless had Thistle 2-0 up and, despite Jordan Morton getting one back for John Hughes’ side, the Jags held on for their fifth victory in five games.
Dumbarton hosted Dunfermline in a clash that saw the Pars rarely troubled by their hosts and Jim Jefferies men strolled to a 2-0 away win thanks to goals from Andy Kirk late in the first half and Stephen Jordan early in the second. The result leaves Dunfermline second in the table and Dumbarton still bottom without a single point from their opening five fixtures. It looks to be a long season ahead for the Sons.
Falkirk’s season still hasn’t sparked into life despite pre-season expectations of a serious title push but Steven Pressley’s men would have hoped to be able to take advantage of Hamilton Accies’ dreadful start to the season at New Douglas Park. An early goal from summer signing Lyle Taylor looked to be the perfect start but Jon Routledge scored from 25 yards in the second half to secure a 1-1 draw that left both sides languishing at the wrong end of the table.
Raith Rovers have made a great start to the season after a disappointing campaign last year, and after defeats to Dunfermline and Partick Thistle in their last two games, the Kirkcaldy side looked to bounce back at home to Airdrie United, a side enjoying a good start themselves. Brian Graham scored after 37 minutes to get his eleventh goal of the season in all competitions and Craig Spence killed off the Diamonds’ hopes seven minutes from time. The 2-0 victory sees Raith climb into third behind Partick and Fife rivals Dunfermline.
The pick of the Second Division games was the top vs. bottom clash at Somerset Park between basement side Ayr United and table toppers Queen of the South that finished 4-2 to the visitors.
Darian Mackinnon put Ayr in the lead twice in the first 20 minutes but Queens equalised through Nicky Clark then Paul Burns to go into the interval at 2-2. Gavin Reilly then scored twice in seven minutes just after the hour mark to give Queens their first away win of the season. On this form, the Doonhamers should be very confident of being able to get back to the First Division at the first time of asking.
Albion Rovers picked up all three points at home to Stranraer thanks to a late goal from Mark McGuigan, the Partick Thistle striker they signed on loan a few days ago. Jason Crooks had put Rovers in front after 49 minutes before Christopher Aitken made things all square after an hour with a deft finish from six yards. With just 10 minutes remaining though McGuigan popped up and drilled past the Stranraer keeper to give his new side a 2-1 win and three well-deserved points.
Arbroath swept East Fife aside at Gayfield with ease, beating the visitors 2-0 thanks to two goals in two minutes from Steven Doris and Derek Holmes in the first half. East Fife hardly troubled Arbroath and the Red Lichties are now up to third.
Forfar Athletic stay second in the table ahead of Arbroath after their 1-0 victory over Brechin at home, Martyn Fotheringham scoring the decisive goal after 22 minutes.
Alloa Athletic were beaten 2-0 at home Stenhousemuir, goals coming in the second half from Darren Smith and ex-Alloa star Brown Ferguson.
There was a top of the table clash in the Third Division between Elgin City and Peterhead at Borough Briggs that saw the hosts knock their opponents off the top of the table with a 2-0 victory. Peterhead ended the game with eight men and both of Elgin’s goals came from penalties converted by Daniel Moore, the first of which came in the 57th minute after a professional foul by Callum MacDonald on Stuart Leslie that saw MacDonald sent off. Moore’s second penalty came as a result of Ross Smith’s foul on Dennis Wyness eight minutes later and Steven Noble was shortly after for a second yellow card. Scott Ross was the third man sent off for Peterhead in the 89th minute, capping off a result and performance that Peterhead boss Jim McInally will hope to forget quickly.
Third met fourth at Hampden where Queen’s Park beat Clyde 1-0 thanks to a goal from Ian Watt inside half an hour. Both teams had a number of golden opportunities that they failed to take and Queen’s Park now sit third on 10 points, the same tally as Elgin and Peterhead and one point and place ahead of Rangers.
Rangers travelled to Galabank to face Annan Athletic in search of their first away league win of the season but the well-organised Galabankies earned a 0-0 draw, the third away draw in three games for the Ibrox club this season.A record crowd of more than 2,500 fans saw a terrific defensive display from Annan against a Rangers side that, a ground-out victory over Falkirk in the Ramsdens Cup aside, just haven’t got going on their travels yet. Jack Steele had Annan’s best scoring opportunity when he found himself through on goal but he shot wide of Neil Alexander’s post. Alex Mitchell in the Annan goal had a great game and was equal to the few shots aimed at his goal from Lee McCulloch and Fran Sandaza. Almost as worrying for Ally McCoist as his side’s poor league form away from Ibrox, David Templeton crumpled to the artificial surface with a serious-looking ankle injury. It looks like the ex-Hearts winger will face quite a lengthy spell on the sidelines though the club confirmed the ankle isn’t broken.
Bottom side East Stirling scored three times in the last 20 minutes to beat 10-man Stirling Albion 3-1 at Ochilview Park. Stirling played more than an hour of the game at a numerical disadvantage after Scott Davidson was sent off for violent conduct but the Binos remained the better side and deservedly took the lead after 55 minutes through Mark Ferry Scott Maxwell, David Greenhill and Nathan Shepherd all pounced though as a tactical change from Shire boss John Coughlin saw the hosts dominate the latter stages of the game and take three points. A draw was probably a fairer result on the basis of play but Shire were clinical in front of goal and that proved to be the difference.
It was an identical scoreline in the game between Montrose and Berwick Rangers at Montrose’s Links Park ground, the hosts earning their first victory of the season with a 3-1 win. Montrose went 2-0 up with goals either side of the half hour mark from teenage striker Leighton McIntosh and midfielder David Grey before Darren Lavery pulled one back for Berwick on the stroke of half time. McIntosh made the game safe with a little over 10 minutes remaining of the game with his second goal of the afternoon following Steven McNalley’s cross.
In the pick of the games from each division next weekend, a much-improved Aberdeen host league leaders Motherwell on Sunday, Raith Rovers travel to Morton as they look to close down Partick and Dunfermline at the top of the table, second-placed Forfar travel to third-placed Arbroath and Elgin City face Queen’s Park with both teams joint top of the league alongside Peterhead.