Good afternoon and welcome. This week’s Scottish Championship round up is a little different, due to the small issue of there being no Scottish Championship this weekend. Instead, there was the Irn Bru Cup. No, this is not what we do in Scotland, we don’t just sit around and compete for a fancy drinking implement for our national drink. Irn Bru are this year’s sponsors of the Challenge Cup. This is the ridiculous cup competition which pits the lower league sides in Scotland against the under-20s sides from the top division, plus an array of teams from Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and Wales. It’s a bit of a piss take, but hey, it’s football. While Celtic + some friends took on the footballing might of Lithuania, the Championship sides battled hard against foes such as Scotland’s most loved Rangers side, Berwich Rangers, Welsh who-are-they Connah’s Quay Nomads, Aberdeen’s kids. Morton and Brechin had been eliminated in the previous round, but the rest of the league commenced battle.
Sligo Rovers 1-2 Falkirk
Falkirk only went and won a game!! It wasn’t in the league, and it certainly wasn’t the highest priority for Peter Houston’s side, but a win is certainly going to be beneficial for morale. The tie so the club fly and/or boat over the Republic of Ireland to take on struggling Sligo Rovers. Nathan Austin put the travellers ahead after nine minutes, but were pegged back just ten minutes later. James Craigen slid the ball past the Sligo goalkeeper with half an hour played to grab the Bairns the winner. With an away trip to newly promoted Brechin City next weekend, Peter Houston will be desperate to see his side take this victory and build momentum.
Dundee United 3-1 Alloa Athletic
The holders of this prestigious competition played host to recently relegated Alloa Athletic and left it late to grab the victory. A relatively young Terrors side which featured nine changes from last week’s humiliating performance against St Mirren played out a relatively mediocre game of football at Tannadice Park. New signing Patrick N’Koyi was brought down by defender Andy Graham in the box. A penalty was awarded and the Congolese striker converted to put United ahead. United were pegged back minutes later as Alloa substitute Adam Martin drilled his shot past Deniz Mehmet. United fan-favourite Paul McMullan latched on to an N’Koyi pass to put the holders a goal up deep into injury time. Alloa were evidently broken by this goal and allowed Willo Flood to put the cherry on the cake by hammering in a long range strike a moment later.
The New Saints 1-1 Livingston
The only Scottish Championship side in this round to fall to defeat, Livingston battled hard for 120 minutes before being denied by an agonising penalty shoot out. Sunday’s fixture saw Livingston travel to Wales to face TNS. Aeron Edwards put the home side a goal up after twenty minutes through an excellent diving header. A looping header by Dylan Mackin saw Livi equalise in the second half. The game went into extra time and the deadlock would not be broken. The game went to a penalty shootout and Livingstons hard work was undone. Forward Scott Pittman blazed his shot high over the bar, resulting in a long and disappointing trek home for those hardy travelling Livingston supporters.
Aberdeen U20 2-4 Inverness
Inverness won, again! Inverness scored four goals, again! This may have been against a youth side, but hey, a win is a win. Riccardo Calder put the away side a goal up after only four minutes, a perfect way to unsettle a young Aberdeen side. Goals from Liam Polworth and veteran fullback David Raven had Caley 3-0 up by the interval. Aberdeen kid Seb Ross cashed in on a gift of a backpass by former Dundee United and QPR defender Coll Donaldson to give the young Dons a bit of hope. Carl Tremarco marked his injury comeback with a fine goal, tapping in a good pass from George Oakley. Aberdeen versus Inverness has always been a derby to some extent, and the young Aberdeen side carried on this derby spirit with some tough play. Frank Ross of Aberdeen put in a nasty challenge which saw a mêlée break out, seeing himself and Charlie Trafford shown red. Bruce Anderson pulled a goal back for Aberdeen U20s, but the youngsters defensive shortcomings saw them fall to defeat.
Berwick Rangers 0-5 Queen of the South
Berwick Rangers may be a lot more likeable than the newly formed Glasgow Rangers, however, likeability does not make for a good football team, as shown by Berwicks 5-0 mauling by QOS. The league 2 side held off the pressure for the first half, but once Shaun Rooney nabbed the goals first game, the floodgates opened. Rooney scored on minute 53, by minute 63 the visitors would be 4-0 up. Two goals from Stephen Dobbie and a Derek Lyle strike saw off the hosts. Chris Kane scored his first goal for Queen of the South with moments to go in the match to round off the route.
Dumbarton 2-1 Connah’s Quay Nomads
This game was messy. It was vicious, at times, as both sides threw everything they had at it to try and grab a win. It took 120 minutes, but Dumbarton came away victorious. Dumbarton conceded a penalty after 26 minutes. Callum Morris converted the penalty to put the Welsh side one up. The game plodded along before David Wilson converted the corner of new signing Dimitrios Froxylias. Froxylias scored a superb free kick with moments to go in extra time to send the home fans into elation. Despite scoring a tremendous last minute winner, the highlight of the match was an audacious overhead kick from Christian Nade. Those of you unfamiliar with the big fella might want to Google him to see why this act was funny.
St. Mirren 3-1 Hearts U20
St Mirren are streets ahead of their pathetic first half of last season, they kept this fine form up by putting Hearts kids to the hilt. Gavin Reilly put the home side ahead early on with a wonderful curled shot from a corner. Reilly bagged his second of the game shortly after the half time break, latching on to a Stephen McGinn pass to double the Saints lead. Rory Currie gave the Hearts Colts side a chance, netting with ten minutes to go, but these hopes were dashed two minutes later as John Sutton nodded in a goal to end any aspirations of a comeback, causing serious heart-break to the Tynecastle juniors.
Buckie Thistle 0-3 Dunfermline
The Highland League side put up an acceptable performance to in-form Dunfermline Athletic. Nicky Clark scored early on to shatter Buckie’s aspirations of a tight 1-0 win. Clark doubled the Pars lead after 35 minutes through a skirmish at a free kick, heading the ball past the helpless goalkeeper. The Fifers went three up four minutes later, Andy Ryan heading in from a Fraser Aird flick on. Dunfermline fans may have been hoping for more than the three goals against the Highland side. That being said, three goals and a clean sheet is usually a pretty good way to appease the fans.
The Irn Bru Challenge Cup was a great one for seven of the eight Scottish Championships which participated, with only Livingston falling to defeat against a tough TNS side. This was by no means an embarrassing result, considering that the Welsh side have regularly played Europa League qualifying rounds in the past. While some sides certainly outperformed others, the seven sides will all be happy to progress. With several sides lacking the credentials to win titles, this cup is the only realistic chance that many will have to get their hands on a trophy this season. Below are the results of the other games in this competition.
Ayr United 1-1 Montrose (Montrose win 6-5 on penalties)
Spartans 1-2 Linfield
Raith 4-0 Ross County U20
Peterhead 2-0 Annan
Hamilton U20 1-3 Cove Rangers
Elgin City 2-0 Bray Wanderers
Crusaders 3-2 Motherwell U20