St Mirren continue their up and down season in positive fashion, Dundee United won ugly and Inverness only went and got a bloody point! Another week has gone by with its usual dose of cracking goals, diabolical red cards and all-round lower league excitement. But anyway, enough about the Dunfermline Falkirk derby, there was drama throughout the whole league! Let us start at East End Park, where Dunfermline and Falkirk commenced battled for three points at different ends of the league table.
Dunfermline 3-1 Falkirk
When you come away from the game with more red cards than goals, you are probably coming off a pretty nasty defeat. That is accurate of Falkirk after their second league defeat in three games. Declan McManus put the hosts a goal up after only five minutes, beating the offside trap to roll the ball under the goalkeeper. The Pars doubled their lead only six minutes later, Englishman Joe Cardle turning in a Ryan Williamson cross in front of the deflated away fans. Craig Sibbald, a prominent star of Scotland’s second division, saw red early on in the second half. He felt aggrieved to have been fouled by Joe Cardle and saw the red mist descend. He lashed out at Cardle, kicking at him on the ground and was given his marching orders. Peter Houston was seething after kick off, not just at the pitiful performance, but the lack of discipline which saw not one, but two of his players sent for an early bath. Lee Miller, only brought on at half time, was given a red card for a nasty elbow on Nat Wedderburn. It was a clear red and a truly foolish one. Despite the two man deficit Falkirk very nearly turned the game around. The disadvantage galvanised the Bairns and lead to a fight back which saw Tom Taiwo smash in a Tony Gallacher post rebound to make it 2-1 with 82 minutes played. Falkirk kept plugging away, but Dunfermline nicked a winner deep into stoppage time to send the home fans home happy. Falkirk manager Peter Houston gave an explosive and honest assessment of his side after the match, slamming the ill-discipline of his team and their mentality. Falkirk had been expected to challenge for the title this year, though if they don’t pick up their game soon then a relegation battle may be on the cards.
Livingston 1-3 St Mirren
18 games undefeated for Livingston, and at home to St Mirren they were looking to make it 19. This was a game too far Livi who failed to see off a St Mirren side who were a man down for over an hour. The visitors took the lead after ten minutes as Craig Halkett steered the ball towards his own goal, over the head of the helpless goalkeeper. Halkett redeemed himself only five minutes later, latching onto a Josh Mullin corner to pull Livingston back into the game. The home side took a strong advantage after half an hour as St Mirren lost their fullback Gary Irvine as he was sent off for an atrocious foul on former Hearts forward Dale Carrick. Livingston were playing the better football, but it was the Buddies who took the lead, this time through one of their own players! Cammy Smith cut through the defence, his shot being parried wide only to be tucked home by Robert Reilly. St Mirren scored their third of the day with half an hour to be played. Stelios Demetriou headed a cross back into the mixer for Reilly to bag his second of the day, sealing three massive away points for St Mirren, who look to have recovered from their Morton mauling the week before.
Inverness 1-1 Morton
INVERNESS HAVE A POINT, THIS IS NOT A DRILL! It has been a season of lowlights for the highlanders thus far, but Caley are finally off the mark. Inverness dominated the game early on and got a well-deserved goal after 20 minutes. Gary Warren latched onto a Liam Polworth free kick, turning the ball into the net to give the hardy home fans a rare moment to celebrate. Jim Duffy certainly got his troops fired up at the interval and his side looked a completely different team after the break. The big Morton forward Robert Thompson scored a marvellous header to bring his side back into the game, although he also should have put his side ahead. A steady home point wasn’t terrible for Inverness, but in true form to their season, their day ended in disappointment. Collin Seedorf, nephew of former Real Madrid and AC Milan legend Clarence Seedorf, was shown a red card for a nasty foul on Mark Russell. It was a second yellow, and was fairly clear-cut. Inverness started brightly, but it was Morton who enjoyed the better of the second half. Inverness will certainly be the happier of the two sides, with Morton unlucky not to have won by a number of goals.
Dundee United 1-0 Brechin
Champions win ugly, this may not be ideal for the fans, but your average fan would rather watch their team 1-0 ugly than play “total football” losing 3-0. Dundee United have a squad that would be fairly comfortable in the top flight, and as such it is hard to see them not winning the league this year. That being said, they appear to be making hard work of it. Labouring to a 1-0 against the supposed “whipping boys” of the league. Darren Dods side set up to frustrate, throwing counter attacks at the hosts where possible. New signing Patrick N’Koyi headed the ball down to new signing Billy King, who drove the ball into the box, crossing to new signing Scott McDonald to fire in the winner ten minutes from time. Dundee United did “win ugly”, yet with a bit of luck they may have been a few goals to the good, if only Scott Fraser or Mark Durnan could have converted their early chances. Another week without a win for Brechin, but they are showing themselves to be solid, to a point, and should see the points start to build up in a couple of weeks when the squad have adapted more fully to the league.
Queen of the South 1-0 Dumbarton
Another 1-0 game in a league that so often oozes goals. After losing to ten-man Dundee United last Saturday, Queens were back to winning ways against a Dumbarton side who once again looked a little out of their depth. This is perhaps a harsh assessment of the Sons, who were undefeated going into this match, but they just appear to lack a cutting edge which could see them suffer in May. The stats showed that Queens were the dominant side, and this dominance was vindicated late in the first half when Callum Fordyce out jumped his marker to power his bullet headed beyond the helpless Scott Gallacher and into the net. Gallacher had a sturdy game in the Dumbarton nets, saving from numerous Stephen Dobbie efforts to give his side a bit of hope. The visitors weren’t bad, but didn’t have enough about them to win the game. A common theme this season.
Dundee remain rooted to the bottom of the Scottish Premiership table. After last week’s gutless display against Hamilton, the Dee did manage to put in a fighting effort against a rampant Aberdeen side. Having gone a goal down early on to debutant Stevie May, Dundee equalised through Roarie Deacon, who capitalised on a Ryan Shinnie error. May grabbed the winner late on to leave Dundee at the bottom of the league. They are only there on goal difference, though. Partick Thistle and Kilmarnock also have amassed zero points this season.
Moving on up
Ayr United stay top this week, although they were a little bit less convincing, being dragged into a thrilling 4-3 battle away to Stranraer. Having gone an early goal down, Ayr looked comfortable after an hour, being 3-1 up at this stage. Ryan Thomson grabbed two goals in three minutes to level the game with 80 minutes played. Ayr kept plugging away however, and with five minutes to go bagged a winner courtesy of former Everton trainee Paddy Boyle. It was a gripping game which leaves Ayr top of the division with maximum points.
The League Roundup
After match day three, the league table looks like this:
Three weeks into the 2017/18 season and half the division is yet to win a game, quite astounding in a league where the main selling point is “it’s a bit shit, but anyone can beat anyone, so it’s alright.” Dundee United won ugly, remaining top with 9 points from a possible 9, only scoring four goals, but crucially only letting one in. Morton, St Mirren, Queen of the South and Dunfermline all have won a game this year, and as such look to be the early pace setters, trying to create as much distance between themselves and Falkirk and Inverness, who surely will come good at some point. The aforementioned Falkirk and Inverness are currently sitting in the bottom two, with lowly Brechin above the pair on goal difference and alphabetical prominence. Next week see’s some intriguing clashes, including a relegation dogfight between Inverness and Brechin. I can’t wait! (I probably can wait, actually…)