The 10 best Scottish lower league players this week

April 26, 2017

Stanton1. Sam Stanton (Dumbarton)

There’s an admirable trait about the Sons this season, that no matter how ploddingly ghastly they may be one week, they can shake it off and be rather good the next. That’s a quality Raith and Ayr would love to have tucked away, after being relentlessly bowfin’ for months on end, and it’s an attribute that may just keep them up after another up-against-it win at Palmerston Park against Queen of the South. They may have found themselves 1-0 down after an early Stephen Dobbie (who else?) goal, but after Sam Stanton restored parity with an excellent free-kick, the same player then helped run the show, along with Dumfries bound Andy Stirling, as Steve Aitken’s men eventually ran out 2-1 winners.

2. Luca Gasparotto (Falkirk)

We’re aware that the general consensus is that diving should be driven from the game, but if every incident drummed up the same amount of over-the-top foam and bluster as Myles Hippolyte’s, then, frankly, we’d encourage more of it. How referee Gavin Duncan interpreted the Falkirk midfielder’s tumble as a penalty is anyone’s guess, but it was the signal for a quite incredible ripple of incandescence. Lewis Martin was sent off just three minutes after coming on, Kallum Higginbotham tried to fight the world, and middle-aged men booed and caterwauled as if their lives depended on it. Wonderful stuff. Oh, and Luca Gasparotto had a fine match in Falkirk’s 2-1 win, but this was a fixture where the actual football was secondary by some margin.

3. Ryan McCord (Arbroath)

“RUBBISH,” screamed one particularly frayed and disgruntled Cowden punter, halfway through Arbroath’s 2-1 win over the Blue Brazil, and to be fair it was as succinct and accurate a description of Cowdenbeath’s performance as you’ll find. This was poor fare on show at Central Park, with the probable highlight when referee David Munro bodied Martin Scott, before standing stock still as play raged around him, as if he was employing the best known defence when being stalked by a T-Rex. Ryan McCord set up the first and scored the second as he helped the Red Lichties stay on Forfar’s shoulder, but for Cowden, opportunities are rapidly ebbing away.

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4. Craig Beattie (Edinburgh City)

We’d imagine you all started your Sunday in roughly the same manner as we did. Up bright and breezy with the housecoat on, a big mug of coffee accompanied by three bacon rolls, and then settling down to watch the Annan Athletic highlights of their game against Edinburgh City. We couldn’t wait to watch the injury time stramash that saw two men red carded, so we wish nothing but misfortune on the highlights editor, who decided not to show even a single second of it. For shame. We did get to see Craig Beattie’s match winning performance as Edinburgh confirmed their survival with a 2-0 win, but, frankly, we wanted to see handbags, anger and men kicking each other. Never mind.

5. Mark Durnan (Dundee United)

For a team that no-one seems to think will get relegated, St. Mirren sure do spend a lot of time in the relegation places. After two weeks in the dizzying heights of eighth, they scuttled back down to ninth on the back of this 3-2 loss to Dundee United with just two games left to play. Admittedly there may have been some element of misfortune about this one with the Terrors on the back-foot for large swathes of the match, although Mark Durnan had a fine game in the centre of defence as United eventually sneaked the three points with a last minute winner. Saturday’s relegation big-bash with Raith Rovers is going to be a nail and nerve shredding affair.

6. Tom O’Brien (Forfar Athletic)

There was a surprise at the start of this Forfar versus Clyde fixture when Baxter Bridie failed to take up his usual position in front of the tunnel to welcome out the players, a frankly disappointing omission which dampened our enjoyment of this one. He wasn’t the only one to be posted missing either, with the Clyde defenders all over the shop, and even when they did make an occasional appearance it was normally to display some ramshackle ineptitude as Forfar ran out easy 3-0 winners. Tom O’Brien strolled through the match at the back for Garry Bollan’s team as they retained their one point gap at the top going into the final two rounds of matches. The SPFL may have to start phoning up helicopter hire firms for League Two’s final weekend.

7. Jason Marr (Alloa Athletic)

It was a huge match for Airdrieonians at the weekend, as they looked to cling on to a place in the top-four, so it’s perhaps no surprise that they blew it. This 1-0 defeat now leaves them fifth with two matches to play, and, incredibly, only goal difference separates the teams from third to sixth as the battle for the last two play-off spots reaches a somewhat manic conclusion. Alloa weren’t at their best for this one, but in truth they didn’t have to be as Airdrie continued to huff and puff to no great end. Jason Marr impressed once more at centre-half as Alloa again demonstrated why they’re the likeliest of candidates to make it a double promotion from League One.

8. Conrad Balatoni (Ayr United)

It was excruciating enough watching the eight minutes and 14 seconds of highlights from Morton versus Ayr from the comfort of our couch, so fair play to the boy who watched the 90 minutes perched in a tree behind the goals. This 1-1 draw played out exactly as expected, with a poor spectacle produced by two sides in wretched form, and whilst there was some goalmouth action, the standard of finishing was extraordinarily guff with tree-man in real danger of being struck in the coupon on several occasions. Kudos to Conrad Balatoni though, who at least added some quality to an otherwise bleak affair, but with the Honest Men desperate for all three points the single one they gained felt like a chance squandered.

9. Kieran Miller (Stenhousemuir)

Peterhead’s player-of-the-year function must have had a real positive vibe about it on Saturday evening after they turned in one of their most gubbins performance of the campaign with a 1-0 home loss to Stenhousemuir. The match had been the Blue Toon’s opportunity to relegate the Warriors and move closer to Stranraer, but now tenth spot and automatic relegation is a real prospect. Brown Ferguson’s men were rarely troubled by Peterhead’s supposed luminaries, with midfielder Kieran Miller arguably the man-of-the-match as he mopped things up in the middle of the park. From looking like League Two certainties Stenhousemuir are now just two points off ninth.

10. Jason Kerr (East Fife)

East Fife began the weekend in the bottom half of the madcap world of League One, but by the end of it they were up to third after this Jason Kerr inspired 1-0 win over Albion Rovers. The defender started and finished the move which saw Barry Smith’s men move up the table to become the highest placed of all four sides who currently reside on 46 points due to the fact they’re the only one of that quartet to have a positive goal difference. As for Albion Rovers, they’re not quite assured of safety making them one of eight teams who have something to play for as the season reaches it’s conclusion.


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