Scottish Championship Match Day 18: WHAM! AT TANNADICE

Scottish Championship

I won’t lie, St Mirren’s magnificent 2-3 comeback win against a tricky Queen of the South team thoroughly deserves to be the number one game on this week’s review, but I managed to get myself down to Tannadice Park today, to watch Dundee United batter a strong Livingston team 3-0, therefore that will be where the action kicks off from. Before any more is written, let us just acknowledge that this is the first time in what feels like an age that all five matches have been able to play after a string of poor weather. Elsewhere, Dunfermline got a much needed win against Brechin, Morton saw off Inverness and Falkirk made it five games in a row without a goal.

Dundee United 3-0 Livingston

After a jittery start which saw both United and Livingston struggle to hold any form of possession. It was the home side that netted from a corner after 22 minutes to go ahead, and from that point onwards, they never looked like giving the ball away. The ball was whipped in and headed across the box where it was picked up by Paul McMullan. He should have passed. Tam Scobbie, the right back overlapping shouted it, I shouted it, the other 6000 fans in the stadium shouted it, all furious at the former Celtic man for not passing. But his shot took a little deflection and rolled under the large frame of Gary Maley in the Livingston goal. From then on Dundee United took the game by the scruff of the neck and bossed it. With less than ten minutes to go in the first half, some clever play down the left-hand side saw Billy King dance his way to the by-line and fire a cross back to Scott McDonald, the ex-Middlesbrough forward tucking away his shot right in front of the vocal travelling support. They were hampered shortly after when Fraser Fyvie was forced off with an injury midway through the first half, after a nasty collision which saw Livingston earn the free kick. He opted to be carried off, rather than using the stretcher, but the signs don’t look good for the ginger maestro. The second half saw some enjoyment for Livingston fans. They conceded a penalty as Maley pulled McDonald’s feet from under him, but Billy King fired his penalty into the hands of the goalkeeper, keeping the score at 2-0 and rejuvenating the visitors. The silky football from Dundee United subsided, replaced by a more conservative, scrappy performance to break up the play, not allowing Livi a chance to play. The game started to boil over with the referee brandishing a couple of yellow cards to both side. It was a game of many little fouls but barely one bad tackle throughout! Paul McMullan sealed the three points with two minutes to go, finishing off a scrappy affair in the box to make it 3-0. The final five minutes played out to the sound of the Dundee United fans singing a beautiful rendition of the Wham! song “Last Christmas”. Glorious. Bloody glorious.

Queen of the South 2-3 St Mirren

Queens absolutely blew it yesterday. 2-0 up after six minutes and they somehow managed to let all three points slip.
Stephen Dobbie opened the scoring after only a minute, notching his 100th goal for the club over his two spells in Dumfries. Chris Kane doubled for the Doonhamers five minutes after to send the home fans into ecstasy. Gavin Reilly had the game levelled up by the half-time interval. He made it 1-2 on twenty minutes, capitalising on some comically bad QOS defending, then scored off the back of a wonderful run through the defence with ten minutes to go in the half. The momentum of the game had truly swung in the favour of the Paisley side off the back of their come back, and they notched the winner with twenty minutes to go via the head of Gary MacKenzie. This win saw St Mirren climb their way back to the top of the league, while Queen of the South drop out of the playoff places.

Dunfermline 2-1 Brechin

On paper, this should have been cut and dry, but with Dunfermline’s brutal form of late, this game was anything but a formality. The Pars scored the opener 22 minutes in, Declan McManus stabbing home a knockdown from Nicky Clark to start the scoring. Michael Paton doubled the lead shortly after halftime, finishing off Joe Cardle’s pass to give them some breathing space over a Brechin side who have yet to muster a league win all year. The second goal also helped to get the home crowd off their player’s backs. Brechin got a goal back midway through the second half through on-loan Aberdeen striker Connor McLennan, the forward striking from distance to give Brechin a chance. A chance was all Brechin could hope for, unfortunately, as they failed to really threaten Sean Murdoch in the Dunfermline goal. Despite the poor form displayed by Dunfermline of late, the three points sees the shoot up to 3rd in the league.

Morton 1-0 Inverness

A moment of ill-discipline from Caley defender David Raven cost Inverness dearly this afternoon. Morton very nearly took the lead through Gary Harkins, with the big man hitting the crossbar from a free kick. He got the goal on 22 minutes, however, converting a penalty beyond Mark Ridgers to put Morton into the playoff spot. David Raven was sent off for pulling back Robert Thompson, denying the striker a goal scoring opportunity. Inverness failed to muster a shot on target all game and we pretty much bullied by Morton all match, manager Jim Duffy outclassing the ten men of Inverness. The win moves Morton into the playoff spot, while Inverness remain in 7th place.

Dumbarton 0-0 Falkirk

Throughout university, my flatmate was a Falkirk fan, as such, I always kept an eye out for their results. In that time they were involved in some thrilling matches. They were hampered from reaching promotion due to having Rangers (new) Hearts, Hibs and Dundee United relegated/promoted to their division, meaning that they were unable to gain promotion during their best years. This is but a distant memory now, as they plummet towards relegation at frightening pace. They haven’t scored a goal in five matches now and quite frankly, that doesn’t look like changing anytime soon. This, paired with a mediocre Dumbarton side equated to a thoroughly dull match. I won’t bore you by recounting the game. It was shit. If you really care then you can read the match highlights on the BBC…

Downtown

PARTICK THISTLE ARE OFF THE BOTTOM OF THE TABLE! Ross County fall to the foot of the table, with the Owen Coyle effect certainly didn’t last long. They took on a Hibs side at Easter Road, desperate to recover from a mauling from Aberdeen the week before. Former Manchester United and Burnley winger Chris Eagles crossed in for Craig Curran to open the scoring on fourteen minutes. The lead last less than ten minutes as Anthony Stokes headed home a cross from Martin Boyle. The game appeared to be heading towards a draw when an unfortunate deflection from Kenny Van der Weg saw Ross County slip into the relegation space. This win see’s County now go seven matches without a win, troubling form considering the tight nature of the bottom of the league.

Moving on up

Ayr United were on a nine-game win streak but lost to an in-form Airdieonians team. Iain Russell put the home side a goal up after only four minutes. Ayr have conceded a few goals in their run, so this wasn’t too damaging. The second goal, scored by David Brownlie twenty minutes later, was a tough one to come back from. Ayr struggled to break down the resolute defence and the game ended up finishing 2-0.

The League Roundup

After matchday seventeen, the league table looks like this

 

Team Played Won Drawn Lost For Against G.D Points
1 St Mirren 18 12 2 4 35 22 13 38
2 Dundee United 17 11 3 3 25 14 11 36
3 Dunfermline 18 7 5 6 34 24 10 26
4 Morton 17 7 5 5 25 18 7 26
5 Queen of the South 17 7 5 5 30 24 6 26
6 Livingston 16 7 5 4 24 21 3 26
7 Inverness 17 5 5 7 18 19 -1 20
8 Dumbarton 17 4 7 6 14 21 -7 19
9 Falkirk 16 1 8 7 9 25 -16 11
10 Brechin 17 0 3 14 12 38 -26 3

What a day, five matches were completed! This may seem like nothing, but my god it’s pleasant after so many cancellations of late. St Mirren and Dundee United have set the bar for the rest, one of those two will win the title, the other will get playoffs. The battle for playoffs is intriguing, however. Seven points separate 3rd and 8th, with a whole lot of football left in the season. The 3rd and 4th spot in the table seems to have a new occupant every week, so really it is only the relegation spots that are a bit uninteresting. Brechin are going down, and Falkirk will be too if they don’t sign a striker in January!