Scottish Championship Match Day 26: Turmoil at Tannadice

Scottish Championship

A number of weeks ago I wrote that the title race was over, that St Mirren were simply too far ahead of Dundee United for the Tannadice team to be caught. Since then, the Arabs form has nosedived, and a defeat on Friday night to Livingston, coupled with a Morton win, saw United slip to fourth spot, in real danger of not making the playoffs all together. This result on Friday night was a true headline in a weekend of woefully underwhelming results, including two 0-0 draws.

Livingston 2-1 Dundee United

I am trying to stay objective this season when writing about this league, though I am a Dundee United fan, and at times it is difficult to not sound too bias. I am trying hard to remain level headed during the period of discontent at Tannadice, but Friday was the straw that broke the camel’s back. So many weeks this year we have had poor results, and had managers and players coming out, saying that “we have to improve” and how the “season starts here.” I, along with every other Dundee United fan I know, are sick of it. The club is rotten from the top down and unless we make significant changes in the boardroom then we face the real risk of dying as a club, akin to Gretna and Rangers. Stephen Thompson is dangerously close to turn my team from a bad patch to a disaster zone.

But I digress, let us focus on the game. David Hopkin’s side took the lead after 22 minutes, courtesy of a Scott Robinson strike. The United defence struggled to deal with a high ball into the box, allowing it to fall perfectly to Robinson to lash past Harry Lewis. Livingston thought they had doubled their lead soon after when Ryan Hardie headed into the net, but his effort was ruled out by the linesman’s flag. Csaba Laszlo, under huge pressure from an increasingly unhappy fan base, opted to give young forward Matty Smith his first league start.

After a period of pressure from the visitors, Smith found himself in the right place at the right time to hammer a loose ball into the net, to the despair of Neil Alexander, with fifteen minutes to go. United were angry to have a penalty claim waved away by referee Craig Thompson late on, but were absolutely enraged at their own defence for letting Ryan Hardie take the ball down easily and slam the ball home into injury time. It was a damaging result for United, but for Livingston it puts them in a position to make second their own, perhaps even having a chance of a title push.

St Mirren 1-0 Brechin

Somehow Brechin still aren’t relegated, though it will take a miracle of biblical proportion to save them from the drop. It looked like their day was going to be a nightmare, travelling to the league leaders. After fifteen minutes Kyle Magennis hit a free kick which took a horrible deflection off Brechin goalkeeper Patrick O’Neil. It was a cruel blow for the visitors but hardly surprising given their season. O’Neil did his part to make amends for his own goal when he stood tall to save a penalty from Ian McShane. Brechin very nearly pulled level via a Liam Watt attempt which shook the goalpost, but try as they might, they simply couldn’t get past the soon to be champions. St Mirren dominated the stats, though on the pitch they struggled to really get a grip. They laboured to their victory and can count themselves
lucky to have taken the three points.

Inverness 0-2 Morton

Inverness thought they had opened the scoring through a Gary Warren header early on, the centre back judging the balls swirling movement in the wind as a Liam Polworth free kick came in. The effort was ruled offside however, and moments later it was Morton who went up the pitch and scored. Scott Tiffoney saw his first effort saved by Mark Ridgers, but reacted quickly enough to put Morton a goal up after almost half an hour. It was a day of misfortune for Inverness after seeing their goal ruled out for offside, the handful of fans in attendance witnessed Joe Chalmers hit his shot off the upright. The bad luck continued onto the 70th minute as the home side conceded a penalty. Up stepped Gary Harkins who confidently struck his penalty into the back of the net. This was Morton’s fifth game unbeaten and puts them in 3rd place, six points from 5th placed Dunfermline.

Falkirk 0-0 Dumbarton

This may not be a big scoring game, but it was a must not lose game for the Bairns, desperate to avoid being hauled back into a relegation scrap. Dumbarton did end a four game losing streak with their point, but at this stage of the seasons they need to beat the teams around them, and a 0-0 draw won’t cut it. Falkirk will be gutted not to have won, hitting the woodwork an inordinate amount of times. Craig Sibbald struck it twice, as was Reghan Tumilty and Andrew Nelson. The poor luck would have Falkirk manager Paul Hartley pulling his hair out, though he’ll be content avoiding defeat to a side in desperation.

Queen of the South 0-0 Dunfermline

This was a must win for both sides, each with playoff aspirations. As it happened, a point apiece proved to be just as detrimental Morton continuing their momentum. Dunfermline had the better time of things, holding more possession and testing the opposition goalkeeper much more, but both Lee Robinson and Jack Leighfield stood strong to keep out the attackers attempts. It was a thoroughly poor game, a disappointment for anyone who paid their hard earned cash to watch.

Downtown

Ross County stay 12th after a beating by St Johnstone at McDairmid Park. Midfielder Murray Davidson twice scored to keep Owen Coyle’s side bottom of the league. Twice Davidson found himself in acres of space to hurt the highlanders. The visitors had any chance of a comeback quashed when Craig Curran saw red with five minutes to go, having thrown a St Johnstone player to the ground in an on-field mêlée.

Moving on up

Raith Rovers remain top of the league despite conceding a late equaliser to third placed Arbroath, despite my tipping them to win in my weekly Betting Bad article. Jason Thompson and Willis Furtado scored for the home side, but a late Leighton McIntosh strike split the points.

The League Roundup

After match day twenty five, the league table looks like this

Team Played Won Drawn Lost For Against G.D Points
1 St Mirren 26 18 3 5 47 28 19 57
2 Livingston 25 13 7 5 42 27 15 46
3 Morton 25 11 8 6 36 23 13 41
4 Dundee United 23 12 4 7 31 28 3 40
5 Dunfermline 25 9 8 8 39 28 11 35
6 Queen of the South 25 9 8 8 38 34 4 35
7 Inverness 24 8 6 10 30 30 0 30
8 Falkirk 26 7 9 10 28 39 -11 30
9 Dumbarton 24 4 9 11 15 31 -16 21
10 Brechin 25 0 4 21 18 56 -38 4

Two 0-0 results certain do not make for the most riveting of writing, but such is the tightness of the league that teams are approaching games with a little more cautious. The gung-ho attitude that teams have played with at the start of the year is starting to disappear as teams seem to be realising that every point truly counts at this stage of the season. Morton have been fairly substandard this year, yet they have found form at the right time and have managed to move ahead of the playoff facing pack. Dundee United have spent all year title chasing, yet look like slipping out of the playoffs entirely. Even in a week of dull games, the excitement levels are still sky high!