The 10 best Scottish lower league players this week

April 11, 2017

pittman goal

1. Stephen Dobbie (Queen of the South)

It was the Ayr United Player of the Season awards on Saturday evening. A finely timed event which coincided nicely with them hitting bottom spot in the Championship after their 2-0 reverse against the Dumfries Doonhamers. Craig McGuffie won the interestingly monikered “Squirrel Hunters Young Player of the Year trophy”, but it was goalkeeper Greg Fleming who won the majority of baubles on offer, which hints at the kind of season Ayr have endured. It was pretty much him versus Stephen Dobbie at the weekend, and the forward came out on top. Dobbie struck a brac,e which took his tally for the season to 23. Ayr travel to Kirkcaldy on the last day of the season. But on this form there’s no guarantee they’ll be able to prevent it from being any more than a dead rubber.

2. Kallum Higginbotham (Dunfermline Athletic)

If it’s a Saturday afternoon and there’s no football being played at Stark’s Park, then that can mean only one thing: somewhere in Scotland, Raith Rovers are failing to score a goal. Their latest blank, a 1-0 loss to Dunfermline, means they’ve now failed to score in 10 of their 16 away games in the Championship this term, although at least the fans didn’t have too far to travel home after the latest abominable performance. They certainly couldn’t deal with Kallum-with-a-K Higginbotham, who was their scourge all game, and it was the winger who poked a panenka passed Pavol Penksa in the second period to seal all three points. Try saying that three times after three Peach Schnapps.

3. Scott Pittman (Livingston)

It’s safe to say that Livingston aren’t really everyone’s cup of tea, what with their tendency to be led into administration by shysters whilst handing contracts to desperadoes and cut-throats, but they do deserve some credit this season, even if you’re only willing to give it grudgingly. They officially won the League One title at the weekend, seeing off their closest challengers Alloa by two goals to one, with Scott Pittman kicking things off with an absolute beezer from 25-yards. David Hopkin’s men have been far and away the third-tier’s best side, and you can’t imagine they’d need too many new additions to make a decent stab at the Championship next term.

4. Ryan McGeever (Queen’s Park)

Queen’s Park and Peterhead are having completely contrasting seasons, and while that was always expected to be the case, it’s happening the opposite way around. Survival was the name of the game for the Spiders this term, while promotion was Peterhead’s raison d’etre, but Saturday’s 2-0 win for Queen’s Park succinctly summarised both teams campaigns to date. Gus MacPherson’s side are enjoying their best season in decades, while Jim McInally’s ramshackle unit appear destined for the relegation playoff. At best. With an assist and a goal, QP midfielder Ryan McGeever was a suitable recipient of the man-of-the-match bauble, but with just five games remaining Queens Park have an excellent chance of making the Championship playoff jamboree.

5. Kyle Hutton (Airdrieonians)

No-one likes a grass, especially when it’s an adult snitching on a ten-year old child. So it was a thumbs down to Brechin goalie Graeme Smith at the weekend. In a fine show of petulance, an Airdrie ballboy decided to throw the ball over Smith’s head rather than return it, so the custodian went bleating to the referee to have him dealt with. If he’d went full Eden Hazard and kicked him in the spleen then that’s fine, but cliping? Deary me. Perhaps we should give him the benefit of the doubt, after all, he must have been fairly huffy at his side being dominated by an impressive Airdrie team with Ryan Conroy and especially Kyle Hutton dictating proceedings in a 3-1 win. Both teams are still ensconced in the playoff positions, but it’s now Brechin who look most precarious.

6. Ricki Lamie (Greenock Morton)

There was a real feeling of anti-climax about Morton versus Hibernian, with Jim Duffy and Neil Lennon embracing like long lost pals before the match began. We wanted visceral violence, black eyes and chipped teeth… or more chipped teeth in Lennon’s case. The same as the week before, really, but tooled up with chibs. As it was, the 1-1 draw with Morton was enough to retain Hibs lead at the top, but it was a damp squib of a match, which Neil Lennon somehow managed to find something to go radge about. Seek help, Lenny. As for Morton, their form is just starting to stutter as the playoffs approach, albeit they showed a decent bit of resilience to come back on Saturday, with Ricki Lamie showing up well in the central defensive position. Even with a favourable run-in, the ‘Ton will need to perk up if they’re to finish second.

7. Gregor Buchanan (Dumbarton)

Goal music makes us a little annoyed at The Terrace. It just seems so pointless. After all, how on earth could playing The Macarena improve a Liam Buchanan strike, for example? What we can get behind, though, is the PA from St Mirren playing a tune before Rory Loy has even taken his penalty, which the striker then guffed up, just to add to the patter. The boos were quite loud at that point, but they were cacophonous as Lewis Vaughan scored an equaliser for Dumbarton in this 1-1 draw, before cupping his ear to the crowd. The Sons were well worth a point with Gregor Buchanan an impenetrable obstacle at the back. We implore you to watch the highlights, just because you’d scarcely believe so much swearing could be shoehorned into a five minute segment.

8. William Edgenguele (Dundee United)

This 1-1 draw between Dundee United and Falkirk fits perfectly into the narrative of disgruntlement that both sets of fans have felt this term. For United, this was a match which they should have won, and indeed they probably would have if not for the introductions of Falkirk’s James Craigen and Nathan Austin with a little under half-an-hour remaining. For the Bairns, this was another frustrating away performance with manager Peter Houston once more adopting a safety first approach away from the Grangemouth Oil Refinery Dome. United defender William Edgenguele was the pick of a fairly low-key match, and unless this campaign is to end in promotion for one or t’other, this is a season that neither side will look back on with any great affection.

9. Vincent Berry (Stenhousemuir)

Perhaps we were a little hasty in writing the Warriors off. A five-point gap between themselves and ninth place seemed insurmountable for a side in such bleak form. However, a surprising 3-1 win over East Fife now sees them just two points behind Peterhead with the two sides from the arse end of League One meeting in a fortnight at Balmoor. Brown Ferguson’s side play Livingston before then, and with the Amber Machine players presumably celebrating with free Tony Macaroni’s all week, it wouldn’t be beyond the realm of possibility that they take something from them too. There cause would be greatly helped if they could recreate Saturday’s form, with Willy Furtado scoring twice as Vince Berry marshalled the midfield in behind him.

10. Steven Doris (Arbroath)

It was billed as a potential title decider, but the long awaited Angus clash between Forfar and Arbroath failed to produce anything definitive at the weekend. The 1-1 draw was probably more beneficial to the Loons than the Red Lichties, with the parity keeping Gary Bollan’s team top of the table by a sliver of a single point. Neither goalie will be particularly chuffed at the goal they each conceded, although Steven Doris could be happy with his afternoon, asthe barrel-buttocked forward again leading the line well. With both teams having reasonable looking fixtures, the destination of the title is anyone’s guess.


Written by Shaughan McGuigan

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