SFL Preview 22/1/11

Martin Kelly gives us the SFL round up…

FIRST DIVISION

 

Two games in the First Division have been hit by the weather as Cowdenbeath v Partick Thistle and Queen of the South v Ross County failed pitch inspections earlier today. The fate of the Dunfermline v Stirling Albion match will be decided tomorrow but both sides will be hoping that this match goes ahead.

 

For the Pars there is the opportunity to keep up with Fife rivals Raith Rovers in the chase for the championship. They’ll need to improve their away form however; it’s been five games without a win on the road. On the up side, they have signed Partick Thistle striker Liam Buchanan who should make his debut. A good omen is that he scored two goals in Thistle’s 6-1 drubbing of Stirling only a week ago.

 

For Stirling, there is the prospect of a new manager in the dug-out. Out went John O’Neill in midweek to be replaced almost instantly by ex-Dundee boss Jocky Scott. 63-year-old Scott has the toughest of jobs on his hands. Taking into account the Dees’ 25 point deduction, Stirling are still 9th in the division but only four points now separate the sides. Scott will no doubt have felt harshly done by after his dismissal from Dens Park last season when the side were still atop the First Division. The ultimate revenge act would be in saving the Binos at the expense of his old club. Overall, an interesting match in prospect and a draw quite possible.

 

The game of the day is possibly that of Dundee v Falkirk. Dundee’s problems are well documented but for Falkirk this is a game which they must be looking to win if they harbour any hopes of winning the championship this season. Manager Steven Pressley has come under pressure after poor form which has seen league form plummet and elimination from the Scottish cup at the hands of Partick Thistle. Leigh Griffiths is available for Dundee in what will likely be his last game for the club. A crucial game for both sides and another draw seems likely.

 

Raith Rovers and Morton pair up in a game which is a wonderful opportunity for Raith to extend their lead at the top of the table. With a game in hand over challengers Dunfermline, beating a mediocre Morton side is not only possible, it’s highly likely.

 

SECOND DIVISION

 

The Second Division has lost East Fife v Dumbarton but at least three other games survive in Scotland’s most competitive league at present. Ayr United and Peterhead had mixed fortunes with SPL sides in the Scottish cup. Both teams bravely forced replays but it was the Honest Men who beat Hibs while Balmoor saw a six goal blitz in favour of St Mirren. Nevertheless, lower league cup upset hangovers are notorious. Peterhead should take advantage of any cocky attitudes in the home team.

 

Ayr are still only second in the league but have the chance to go top tomorrow if Livingston lose to Forfar. The Loons will have been going crazy over the winter period with the amount of postponements suffered. Unbelievably, they have only played 13 league games so far this season but have a good chance of pushing for the play-offs if they can put a solid run together. For Livvy, debut hat-trick hero Kenny Deuchar will be joined by the returning Robbie Winters.

 

In a match which will undergo a morning pitch inspection, Brechin City and Alloa Athletic clash at Glebe Park. Alloa have slumped drastically of late and have failed to take advantage of having played more games than any other side in the division. A dire 4-1 loss at basement side Dumbarton will give boss Allan Maitland plenty to think about. The Wasps need to find form to avoid slipping into the bottom half of the table.

 

Speaking of which, Stenhousemuir play host to Airdrie United in a game which won’t stir the emotions of many but is still a match of huge importance to the home side. New manager Davie Irons has pointed out that a recovering Dumbarton could pull Stenny to bottom spot sooner than was first thought. Airdrie have proven tough to beat under Jimmy Boyle. Overall, the bottom of the Second Division is packed with teams who are very familiar with relegation scraps and it’s guaranteed that no team wants to return to the basement.

THIRD DIVISION

 

This brings us to the Third Division which will unfortunately be without Clyde v Albion Rovers and Arbroath v East Stirling will be subject to a pitch inspection. At the top, it looks already as though Arbroath and Stranraer will be the two title contenders come the end of the season. Initially leaking goals freely, the Lichties have tightened up and have now gone four games without conceding, scoring 13 in the process. Last week they hammered Berwick 4-0. While it would be unfair to rule out Jimmy Crease’s men from the championship race, such a scoreline underlines the strength in depth that Arbroath have and they will surely beat a goal-shy East Stirling tomorrow.

 

For Elgin‘s phenomenal season to continue they would have to further excel themselves and dispose of Stranraer. Although the Blues are top of the table, their form of late has been more solid than spectacular. Stranraer boss Keith Knox has predicted goals in this one and a thriller would not be a shock.

 

Montrose are missing five players against an Annan side which have also had a surprisingly good season thus far. Therefore, Harry Cairney’s men look favourites at Links Park.

 

Finally, Queen’s Park play host to Berwick Rangers at Hampden. Queen’s can take some confidence from their dramatic 2-1 win at Albion Rovers but the result doesn’t gloss over what was a poor performance. Queen’s have not won at home since mid-October and Berwick have faltered after their big cup clash with Celtic. A nervy game in prospect.

 

Read Martin’s blog at:  http://www.martinckelly.wordpress.com/

Advertisements

2 Responses to SFL Preview 22/1/11

  1. Pingback: SFL Preview « The Commentary Box

  2. Jonathan says:

    My Dad will be raging about the Thistle game.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: