Scott Binnie talks us through the latest results in Scottish football.
After another weekend of excitement north of the border, not a single goalless draw in Scotland and only three of the games ended 1-0. There were changes at the top of the SPL and First Division, an SPL team are getting further adrift of the other 11 with each game, and the Third Division favourites blew a chance to go to the top of the table.
Scottish Premier League
Hibernian found themselves on top of the SPL, for one day at least, after their 3-0 defeat of bottom side Dundee at Easter Road. Eoin Doyle scored the first inside half an hour with a header from Paul Cairney’s left wing cross. Doyle, Leigh Griffiths and David Wotherspoon had chances to further the lead before the interval but Dundee managed to keep the deficit down to a single goal at the break.
They didn’t manage to maintain that for long in the second half though as Griffiths converted a penalty just five minutes after the restart. Cairney had been tripped by ex-Hibs man Kevin McBridge. Cairney, who was excellent throughout, almost scored the goal his performance deserved when he rounded the keeper, but Iain Davidson tracked back and cleared the ball off the line.
It was 3-0 and game over after 74 minutes, Tim Clancy’s pass finding Wotherspoon on the right, who fired a left-footed effort past Rab Douglas. Dundee manager Barry Douglas will be seriously worried about his team’s continued league status after another resounding loss. Hibernian, however, look nothing like their old selves from just a year ago having spent most of the season in a relegation scrap, a transformation that boss Pat Fenlon must be congratulated on.
Aberdeen defender Mark Reynolds claimed over the weekend that he thought his side were the most well-equipped to challenge Celtic for the SPL title this season, and with their second win in as many games putting the Dons third in the table, he might not be far wrong given that Aberdeen have lost just one of their nine games this season so far, a 1-0 opening day defeat to Celtic.
Craig Brown’s side had to do it the hard way against Kilmarnock, coming from a goal down to win 3-1 away at Rugby Park. Ryan O’Leary put Killie in front after less than five minutes with a fortunate goal that came off of his knee. Aberdeen remained behind until the second half despite Ryan Fraser, Scott Vernon and Gavin Rae going very close for the visitors.
Rae scored just a minute into the second period after a good pass saw him through on goal, and he converted with ease to draw his side level. Niall McGinn, who has been exceptional at times since his move to Aberdeen over the summer, headed a Fraser cross into the net to make it 2-1. Michael Nelson was unlucky not to equalise shortly after with a brilliant volley on the edge of the box, but his effort was just wide of the post. Vernon and McGinn went close but it was Vernon who finally netted Aberdeen’s third, following a sharp bit of link-up play with Jonny Hayes on the edge of the box.
Celtic would have been forgiven for showing signs of tiredness following their heroics in Moscow in mid-week but they still managed a 1-0 victory over Hearts at Celtic Park on Sunday, Georgios Samaras netting the winning goal after 34 minutes.
Jamie MacDonald was stretchered off early on after a collision with Charlie Mulgrew, the aftermath of which eventually saw Mulgrew also taken off. James Forrest, Samaras, Emilio Izaguirre and the outstanding Kris Commons all went close to adding to the lead but the team’s pace inevitably slowed down as their Champions League excursions finally seemed to take effect. The win puts Celtic two points clear of Hibernian at the top of the table with a game in hand over the Edinburgh club, and one must entertain the notion that the SPL will be decided very soon with the Hoops on this kind of form.
The other scheduled SPL game, between Motherwell and Dundee United, was postponed due to a power failure throughout North Lanarkshire.
League leaders Partick Thistle had looked unstoppable until last week’s draw with Raith Rovers and the wheels might just be coming off of the machine now as they lost 3-1 to Morton, the fifth game Morton have won in succession. Kevin Rutkiewicz put Morton in front after quarter of an hour before Steven Craig equalised just six minutes later. Mark McLaughlin restored Morton’s lead in the 39th minute with a header and Thistle were down to 10 men just after the restart after Hugh Murray was dismissed for a second yellow. The numerical advantage proved decisive for the hosts and David O’Brien made it three for Morton with four minutes of the game left. The result pulled Morton to just two points behind second-placed Partick in third.
Dunfermline knocked Thistle off the top spot with a 2-2 draw away to Falkirk. Lyle Taylor had put Falkirk 2-0 up with goals either side of half time, but with just 11 minutes left Andrew Barrowman and Ryan Thomson pulled Pars level to earn a well-fought point.
Hamilton have been waiting all season for a win and the fans were finally given that in decisive fashion with the Accies’ 4-0 victory away to Airdrie United. Ali Crawford, Louis Longridge and Stevie May’s double all in the last 25 minutes of the game saw Hamilton win at long last and stretch Airdrie’s winless run to six.
Bottom club Dumbarton stole a point from Raith Rovers at Stark’s Park with a 2-2 draw, Bryan Prunty’s last minute equaliser for Dumbarton the second late goal Rovers have conceded in as many games. Hit-man Brian Graham put Raith 1-0 up after 23 minutes and James Lister pulled the Sons level at the start of the second half. Greig Spence’s goal on 69 minutes looked to have sealed the points for Raith but Prunty netted from close range to earn Dumbarton just their second point of the campaign. Raith also conceded a very late equaliser last weekend against Partick Thistle, and with just two points taken when six seemed assured in the past two games, boss Grant Murray will be very frustrated.
Livingston and Cowdenbeath played out a 1-1 draw at Almondvale, Cowdenbeath ending the game with 10 men after John Armstrong’s second half red card. Keaghan Jacobs made the extra man count for Livi with less than 20 minutes left but Lewis Milne equalised in stoppage time with a header from Jamie Stevenson’s free kick.
Forfar Athletic and Alloa Athletic played out a thrilling fixture in the Second Division promotion race. Ryan McCord’s early penalty put Alloa in front but Danny Denholm equalised 60 seconds later. Alloa were back in front after 22 minutes thanks to Jason Marr’s header and Denhold made it two apiece with 11 minutes left of the game. Ben Gordon struck four minutes later to give Alloa three massive points in the battle to get out of Scotland’s third tier.
Brechin City have struggled for form recently and that search looks to go on after their 3-1 defeat at Arbroath. Alex Keddie put Arbroath in front after 24 minutes only for David McKenna to equalise just after the interval. Paul Currie and Derek Holmes both scored for Arbroath in the last quarter of an hour to give the Red Lichties the win over their Angus neighbours, who are currently without a manager.
Queen of the South remain unbeaten following their 2-0 win at Stranraer. Goals from Gavin Reilly and Nicky Clark gave Queens their sixth consecutive win and left Stranraer toiling at the bottom of the league.
Stenhousemuir thrashed East Fife 3-0, all the goals coming in the second half. John Gemmell scored twice in three minutes and Stewart Kean completed seven explosive minutes for Stenny.
Ayr United beat Albion Rovers at home thanks to two penalties from Michael Moffat, the first coming in the second minute. Steven Howarth headed an equaliser in first half stoppage time but Moffat scored his second from the spot in the 93rd minute following Barry Russell’s red card.
Maybe the biggest result in the whole country was Stirling Albion’s historic 1-0 win over Rangers at Forthbank. Stirling had suffered defeat in their last five league games and we were without their manager Greig McDonald, who was getting married that day. That didn’t stop Albion and they went in front thanks to Brian Allison’s goal in the 8th minute after poor Rangers defending following Mark Ferry’s corner. A resolute defensive display, particularly from captain Allison, who was imperious in the middle of the back four, saw Albion grind out only their second ever win over Rangers, the first coming in 1953.
Montrose beat East Stirlingshire 3-1 to earn their second win of the season. First half goals from Leighton McIntosh, David Gray and Terry Masson put Montrose in the ascendancy and Craig Hume’s strike proved to be insufficient to avoid defeat.
Peterhead ended a two-game losing run with a 1-0 victory over Berwick Rangers, Stephen Maguire getting the winner.
Clyde vs Elgin and Queens Park vs Annan Athletic were both postponed to allow Clyde and Annan to play in their respective Scottish Cup replays, both sides losing out to Nairn County and Buckie Thistle respectively.