The weather dealt a blow to the fixtures this weekend, with the rain waterlogging two pitches. Up north, Inverness had their match against Dundee United called off, while in the centre belt Dumarton’s cancellation means that Brechin City fans manage to not lose! Of the three matches that dig take place, St Mirren continued their phenomenal form, the Falkirk revival stuttered and Morton leapfrogged Dunfermline to edge into the playoff position in 4th. This weekend’s round up with start in Paisley, where the Saints struck early to hold off the challenge of QOS.
St Mirren 2-0 Queen of the South
Liam Smith scored a thunderbolt from 25 yards out after only four minutes to set the ball rolling for St Mirren. This was the Hearts loanees first goal since 2014 and was the perfect start for the Saints in what was a tough encounter. The game continued on with the Saints in control, and just after the half hour mark they were rewarded with a penalty. The ball hit off ageing midfielder John Rankin’s hand and the referee pointed to the spot. Defender Harry Davis, signed in the summer from Crewe Alexandra, stepped up and confidently hammered the ball home. Things were particularly bad for Queen of the South when their goalkeeper Alan Martin was forced off with injury on the hour mark, replaced by Jack Leighfield. All in all it was a frustrating game for Queen of the South, a loss, an injury to their starting goal keeper and an unhappy fan base that wasted their time and money to see a relatively toothless display. With a week off due to the Scottish Cup break Gary Naismith will want to get his troops focused and ready to slog it out for the final third of the season in the hope of reaching the playoffs.
Falkirk 1-3 Livingston
Falkirk have been on excellent form recently, but this result was damaging for them. They held on for over half an hour, but with half time approaching, Alan Lithgow reacted to a blocked free kick, striking low under Falkirk goalkeeper Robbie Thompson to put the visitors ahead. Falkirk have been on form lately and even at a goal down would have had confidence in their ability to overturn the one goal deficit, but a quick fire double around the hour mark sealed the win for Livingston. Ryan Hardie, on loan from Rangers, put his head on a Jordan Thompson cross, his effort smacking off the crossbar and bouncing in. Frustrated by going a second goal down, Falkirk conceded a cheap free kick which Raffaele De Vita whipped in to go three ahead. The Bairns grabbed a goal back with fifteen minutes to go, Alex Jakubiak giving the home fans something to cheer about. It proved fruitless, however, as Paul Hartley’s men couldn’t close the gap any more. They remain in 8th place, though only by virtue of Dumbarton not getting to play their banker against Brechin.
Morton 2-1 Dunfermline
In the ever evolving battle for the playoff place, Morton came up Milhouse at home to a Dunfermline side who were beginning to find their stride again. It was the visitors who took the lead in this encounter. Tom Beadling, the on loan Sunderland midfielder, put the Pars ahead with a low hit from inside the box. This was the ideal start for Beadling, who was making his debut for the Fifers. A Gary Harkins free kick was knocked down to Michael Tider with half time approaching. He took the ball down and fired the ball home, making Jim Duffy’s team talk a lot simpler. Nicky Clark had the ball in the net for Dunfermline minutes before the break, but his attempt was flagged offside. Clark’s day turned even more frustrating as he botched two headers after the interval. Morton had to wait until deep into injury time to get their winner. Deep into injury time, Bob McHugh latched on to a high ball, rounded the ‘keeper and teed up Gary Oliver to slide the ball into the empty net, ensuring his side leapfrogged their opposition into 4th place.
Ross County remain in 12th place in the Scottish Premiership, though they did hammer relegation rivals Dundee FC 4-1 at Dens Park. Owen Coyle’s team had come under much scrutiny for their lacklustre performances of late, but this weekend they were clinical. After a cagey first half, Davis Keillor-Dunn opened for County, though Dundee equalised soon after though, through a Kerr Waddell header. Alex Schalk scored a quickfire double just after the hour mark, the second of which came about from a neat backheel courtesy of Keillor-Dunn. Tim Chow added a fourth for County in stoppage time, to the agony of those brave enough to stay in the stadium until the final minute. If Coyle can evoke more performances like that this season then there may be hope yet for the highlanders.
Moving on up
Raith Rovers took advantage of an Ayr United slip up to reclaim top spot in League One. They travelled to Hampden Park to take on Queens Park, and were three up inside half an hour. Euan Murray, Willis Furtado and Liam Buchanan all contributed to the scoresheet, though a Aidan Keena strike for the hosts put some doubt on the scoreline. Raith held on, however, helped by a late red card for Queen’s Gregor Fotheringham, to go top.
The League Roundup
After match day twenty four, the league table looks like this:
|6||Queen of the South||23||9||6||8||37||33||4||33|
So another weekend where the fixture list has been disrupted by the weather, as big an advert for Scottish football as ever there has been. Dundee United not playing, coupled with a St Mirren win puts the Buddies fourteen points ahead, with the Dundonian club having played two games less. At this point they look more likely to slip from the playoffs than challenge for the title. Dumbarton’s postponement meant that there was also no change at the bottom of the league. The only significant change was in the playoff places, where Morton usurped Dunfermline to take 4th spot. There are a couple of midweek games in the near future, though next week’s action will come courtesy of the Scottish Cup 5th round.