By Greg Taylor
After yet another disappointing international break the Premiership returned this weekend with the focus on how the two Edinburgh sides would cope after their disappointing start to the season. The answer, not very well.
Hearts were beaten at home by Motherwell. Well seemed to make it more difficult for themselves giving Hearts multiple lifelines. However the Hearts defence would gift the Steelmen plenty chances themselves. The highlight of the 5-goal game came from a rocket of a strike from Sherwin Seedorf. Hearts still find themselves rooted to the bottom of the table, with mounting pressure on Craig Levein’s job. Protests outside the ground after the game must be of great concern for Anne Budge and her board who must surely be thinking about replacing a floundering Levein and hopefully reboot their season.
Their city rivals Hibs also dropped another three points to Kilmarnock away from home. A stunning diagonal pass from Stephen O’Donnell put Liam Miller through to open the scoring for the home side. Their second came just under 15 minutes later, making sure the three points stayed at Rugby Park. Paul Heckingbottom must be feeling the pressure as well. Bizarre post-match interviews further highlight the issues he faces in his team. Next up for the two Edinburgh sides is the Edinburgh derby. This surely must be Levein’s final chance at redemption before facing the sack. If they lose again, it surely must be unacceptable to go 13 league games without a win, especially for a team of Heart’s stature in the Scottish game.
Elsewhere both Old Firm teams picked up three points. Celtic won at a canter at Hamilton whilst Rangers beat Livingstone at Ibrox 3-1. Despite a strong second-half performance from Rangers the headlines came when Ryan Kent suffered a hamstring injury on his return after his £7-million move from Liverpool. Kent will be a massive player for Rangers this season if they are to be viable title contenders, so for Gerrard to lose him to injury already will be a massive disappointment.
Up north Aberdeen continued their lacklustre start to the season drawing 1-1 with St Johnstone. The Saints were well worth their point having played well in the second half. They could have gone 2-1 up if a penalty wasn’t overturned by the linesman . Tommy Wright will be looking for a win soon but with strong performances like that second half they shouldn’t wait too much longer. McInnes goes into a run of three tricky away games with morale in the terraces low. League away trips to Livingston and Rangers sandwich a cup game against Hearts setting up a difficult run for the Dons.
In the Championship Ayr United halted Dundee United’s unbeaten run by running away 2-0 winners. It was an incredibly disappointing day for Lawerence Shankland and Liam Smith as they made their return to Somerset Park. After all the hype before the game Ayr ended up coming out comfortable winners with some strong words said after the match by the Ayr manager. He essentially said their former players Shankland and Smith could come back for some proper coaching if they wanted. Despite the strong comments, Neilson wasn’t keen on fighting back in a war of words and simply stated his disappointment and they will focus on fighting back next week. The two teams are now tied top of the Championship both having only lost a single game.
Arbroath and Partick Thistle came to stalemate at Gayfield on Friday night. However a ruled out goal for Arbroath may have saved Gary Caldwell his job at Thistle. The Lichties had a perfectly good goal ruled out for offside late on in the game, most likely seeing them take the three points. You’d think if that goal stood there would have been a much higher chance of Caldwell making his way towards the exit. It looks as if it may still end that way, unless Thistle can kick start their season soon.
Elsewhere Inverness keep their name in contention at the top of the table with a win against a struggling Dunfermline Athletic. Dundee also picking up a good win against Alloa. Only 7 points separate first and seventh place now. The Championship constantly proves to be one of the most entertaining and unpredictable leagues in Scottish football.
There were goals galore in League One this week, with 19 scored across the five games. David Goodwillie managed to score five in a 6-1 thumping of Stranraer. The Clyde striker scored a hat-trick of penalties and two from open play. Stranraer got a man sent off just before the half-hour mark after conceding a penalty, which set the tone for the game. They now sit second bottom of the league meanwhile Clyde sit sixth, unbeaten in three.
Top of the table East-Fife put three past a struggling Montrose who ended the game with 10 men. East-Fife continue their unbeaten start to the season and keep their two point lead at the top of the table. However down the other end, things still look very bleak for Montrose. The Angus side have only one point from six games and that came on the first day of the season. Although only three points off Stranraer it looks a mountain to climb even this early in the season.
Both Falkirk and Raith Rovers ran out comfortable winners this weekend also. Falkirk securing a 3-0 win meanwhile Raith put four past Peterhead at home. Both teams stay within touching distance of first place as they look to keep pressure on the league leaders.
Cove Rangers continue to give their fans value for money producing another high-scoring affair against bottom of the table Brechin City. Paul Hartley’s team scored another four at Glebe Park. The team is flying at the moment have only dropped two points in six games. It will be hard for any team to keep up with them this season however Edinburgh City are doing a solid job at the moment. The Edinburgh side are the only saving grace for the city at the moment, winning 4-0 at home to Annan Athletic keeping them within three points of Cove.
At the other end of the table Stirling Albion picked up their first win of the season against 10 man Elgin city. They sit tied bottom of the league with Brechin, ahead only on goal difference.
Cowdenbeath ran out comfortable 3-0 winners away to Stenhousemuir. The win sees Cowden sit third in the table after three wins on the bounce. Stenhousemuir continue to linger at the bottom of the table, the loss keeps them only two points off bottom place. However they will have the chance to move further ahead when they face Brechin next Saturday – They’ll be doing so with a new face in the dugout, after sacking their manager.
Player/Team of the Week
There were two clear winners for both player and team of the week. However special mention to Sherwin Seedorf for his bullet of a strike and Motherwell for a good three points. Another special mention to Edinburgh City for a big 4-0 win. However player of the week this week goes to David Goodwillie for his sensational 5 goals for Clyde. To score a hat-trick at any level is an incredible achievement, never mind a hat-trick of penalties amongst a 5 goal haul.
Our team of the week is Ayr United for their somewhat shock win against Dundee United. After Dundee United crashed out of the Challenge Cup they will have looked at this game to bounce back with a bang. However a top performance from Ayr United have sent them back to reality. This will not only give Ayr a massive boost in hope they can keep the pressure on at the top of the league but will definitely have shook the league leaders as we head deeper into the season.