Managerless Dundee United stormed to an impressive 2-1 victory against league leaders St Mirren at Tannadice Park this weekend. This result, coupled with both Livingston and Dunfermline dropping points , saw Dundee United rise to second, only off top spot on account of their miserably low goal difference. At the other end of the table it was heartbreak for Brechin City, who lost courtesy of a 90th minute own goal. This win for Dumbarton against Brechin, along with credible points for Inverness and Falkirk saw Brechin stranded even further astray at the foot of the table. Throw in to this weekend a barrage of offside goals and we have quite an exciting weekend of football to analyse.
Dundee United 2-1 St Mirren
Laurie Ellis took charge of his second game as interim boss and continued his 100% record. While the newspapers are linking the Arabs with a new manager every day, the squad simply went out on the field and got on with things. After only eleven minutes the home side were a goal up. Scott Fraser took a break from fixing his hair to play football, firing a cross in for Mark Durnan to nod the ball past the goalkeeper and into the net, tearing up St. Mirren’s gameplan in the process. Former St Johnstone fullback Tam Scobbie blocked a shot off the line from Kyle Magennis to keep United ahead, and with ten minutes to go, winger Sam Stanton grabbed a second goal to seal the three points for Dundee United. St Mirren got a goal back late on through Adam Eckersley, but it was too little too late for the visitors. This was a huge win for United, who look like they are getting their swagger back. Laurie Ellis has the team playing well, but will he be in charge next Saturday? Or will it be John Hughes? Csaba Laszlo? Jim McIntyre? Only time will tell.
Morton 1-2 Queen of the South
A four minute double for Queens saw a terrific comeback after an early Morton goal threatened to ruin their day, albeit this double was scored either side of the half time break. Big fat Gary Harkins converted a penalty just seven minutes in to give the home fans at Cappielow something to cheer about. Bob McHugh was clipped by Jason Kerr and the referee had no decision but to award a spot kick. This was a tough hurdle to overcome, but Queen of the South did equalise two minutes before the halftime mark. Darren Brownlie flicked the ball on to Stephen Dobbie who fired a powerful half volley into the net. Queens went into the half with momentum and promptly carried this momentum into the second half, as Callum Fordyce put the Doonhamers a goal up just two minutes into the second half. This was a huge win for Queen of the South, as it both keeps them in the hunt for playoffs AND creates some breathing room between them and Morton in the league table.
Falkirk 1-1 Dunfermline
The Falkirk-Dunfermline derby was as fiery as ever, with plenty of sparks and battles all over the pitch, with the odd goal thrown in for good measure too! Paul Hartley may not have his first win as Falkirk boss yet, but he is winning plenty of plaudits for his faith in youth, after the senior players let the club down so badly in the early part of this season. Unfortunately, young defender Cieran Dunne conceded a penalty early on, hauling down Nicky Clarke in the box after half an hour. Kallum Higginbotham scored the penalty to give the visitors a lead. The excitement evidently got too much for Higginbotham who saw himself sent off for two yellow cards just shy of the hour mark. Eight minutes later and the home side made their man advantage pay. Dunfermline’s ill-discipline continued and they concede a free kick in dangerous territory. Jordan McGhee lashed in the free kick to level the match and give Falkirk some ascendancy going into the latter stages of the game. Declan McManus saw himself sent off deep into stoppage time for a second yellow. He reacted angrily to a challenge by Aaron Muirhead and left the referee with little option but to brandish a second yellow.
Brechin 0-1 Dumbarton
This one is painful as a casual observer hearing about it, I can’t imagine how cut up Brechin players, coaches and fans are after this late defeat to Dumbarton. What makes matters worse is that Brechin forward Mark Stewart twice had the ball in the net, but both efforts were met by the linesman’s flag raised high. With the game going into the final minute, Dumbarton’s Christopher McLaughlin crossed deep into the box. His cross was deflected by Willie Dyer of Brechin, who, to his horror, saw the ball bounce up into the back of the net. He had scored an own goal which consigned his team to their twelfth straight league game without a win.
Livingston 0-0 Inverness
For a 0-0, this was an entertaining fixture. Connor Bell had the ball in the back of the net early on, though his
celebrations were cut short when the player became aware of the linesman, who had flagged his effort as offside. The game was an end to end affair with both goalkeepers facing a multitude of shots. Livingston’s Neil Alexander managed to make a number of wonderful saves from Connor Bell and Jake Mulraney to keep his side in the tie. Livingston will have seen this game as winnable given Inverness’ league position, however after a poor start, Caley are a side on the rise and have put in a number of solid defensive shifts to add some points to their season tally. All things considered, this was a fair point all round.
Dundee lost 2-1 to Hibernian at Easter Road in a game which saw them stay bottom of the top flight. Former Dundee forward Martin Boyle scored a sumptuous long range strike to silence the away fans. The ball slipped under Elliot Parish, who was in for Scott Bain, who had been temporarily suspended by his team for an altercation with his boss in training. Canadian internationalist and former St Johnstone, Stevenage and Crewe Alexandra striker Marcus Haber rattled in a neat header across goal to equalise on 21 minutes. Anthony Stokes did have the ball in the net early into the second half, but the effort was offside. A scuffle broke out which saw Anthony Stokes and Ryan Porteous both booked for their antics. With just under half an hour to play, Hibs hit the winning goal. Anthony Stokes chipped the ball between the defence for former Dundee United striker Simon Murray to rattle the ball into the net and condemn Dundee to 12th place, again.
Moving on up
Raith Rovers were knocked off their perch by Ayr United who overtake them atop the league. Admittedly, Raith have played a game less, but Ayr sit in first place after their impressive 4-1 win away to Arbroath. Lawrence Shankland scored a brace, David Gold slid the ball into his own net and Craig Moore added a fourth for the West coast outfit. Gavin Swankie pulled a consolation goal back for the home side, but Arbroath were simply no match for the rampant Ayr United.
The League Roundup
After match day twelve, the league table looks like this
|5||Queen of the South||12||6||3||3||21||14||7||21|
Twelve games have been played and I am officially condemning Brechin City to relegation. At home to one of the leagues weakest sides and they failed. As harsh as it is, given their performance, they have failed. Up the league and it is still all for grabs as to who will claim the title, but there are two points separating 1st to 5th place. Even the relegation playoff is intriguing, Falkirk have held that position for weeks and yet they are improving and not far off Dumbarton and Inverness. Really, Morton in 6th place look like the only secure team!