The 10 best Scottish lower league players this week

August 9, 2017

10. Kevin Cawley (Alloa Athletic)


So screamed one particularly bellicose, attention seeking Raith Rovers fan, as Scott Taggart blasted an early chance over the bar in this 1-1 draw. Presumably though, his loud, irritating face was less jovial as Taggart set up Kevin Cawley for the opening goal as the title favourites toiled against the Clackmannanshire cracks, in this opening day fixture. This was supposed to be a mark-setter for Raith but it was Alloa who came closest to the win, with the Rovers defence struggling to cope with Cawley, amongst others, as Jim Goodwin’s men proved they perhaps shouldn’t have been written off quite so quickly after their Betfred Cup travails.

9. Simon Mensing (Forfar Athletic)

Players don’t always come back to haunt their former clubs. It’s simply a myth, perpetrated from the fact you’re more likely to remember the time an ex-player does something to rattle your cage and ruin your Saturday. Try telling that to Airdrie fans though who, by-in-large, were delighted to see the back of affable Englishman Simon Mensing after a number of poor displays last term, only for him to pick up the man-of-the-match award after the Loons 2-1 win over the Diamonds. Considering the club’s current malaise, that may be the least of their worries. While Willie Aitchison’s men showed up well at points, Forfar were worthy winners capped off with an excellent strike from Mark Millar.

8. Connor Murray (Queen of the South)

Considering the rather uninspiring nature of Queen of the South’s summer, coupled with an insipid League Cup campaign, many fans were wondering if it could get any worse down Dumfries way. They presumably thought the bad luck had bottomed out when they picked up a team-sheet to discover Stephen Dobbie wasn’t listed. But they’d be wrong again when arguably their best signing of this window, goalkeeper Alan Martin, was forced off through injury after just quarter-of-an-hour. Helpfully though they were playing Brechin City, who look like they could be on the receiving end of some real bodyings this term if this 4-1 scoreline is any indicator. Derek Lyle grabbed a brace in a straightforward win, but it was Queen’s youngster Connor Murray who caught the eye on the right-wing as the Doonhamers ended day one as league leaders. Perhaps they should avoid picking Dobbie more often?

7. Scott Pittman (Livingston)

With Saturday being flag day at the Tony Macaroni Stadium it’s completely understandable that Livingston’s PA was getting slightly carried away with his pronouncements, however, considering his voice appeared to break at one point, just after the flag failed to work, he should perhaps reel his performance in a little for the rest of the campaign. As for the less interesting aspects of what actually happened during the 1-1 draw, Livingston will consider it a missed opportunity, considering they held the whip-hand for large swathes of the match against an under-strength Dunfermline side. Scott Pittman picked up where he left off last season, dictating matters in midfield, in a match which suggested the newly promoted side could feature in the top-four equation.

6. Craig Barr (Dumbarton)

In Alan Shearer’s autobiography, My Story So Far, the former England forward revealed that he celebrated Blackburn Rovers winning the league by going home and creosoting his fence. If you haven’t read it, then we implore you not to. However, if your choice is to give it a bash, or sit through a replay of Saturday’s 0-0 draw between Dumbarton and Morton, then we’d possibly suggest the former. At least it had the fence anecdote. Rising from the gloomy mire of this one though was Craig Barr, with the ruggedly handsome bastard slotting into the Son’s injury hit midfield with aplomb. Expectations for these two aren’t exactly sky-high this season. We can see why.

5. Paul McMullan (Dundee United)

Inverness Caledonian Thistle manager John Robertson wouldn’t have enjoyed his weekend much. It was bad enough that he was sent to the stand early in the first half of this opening day tussle with Dundee United, but from his slightly unusual vantage point he was forced to watch his charges produce a toothless performance in their 1-0 defeat. Indeed, the only way his day could have became any worse was if the ongoing internal investigation uncovered that it was he who favourited that Brazzers Pornhub clip. On the other hand, Ray McKinnon would have been content with his lo, as new signing Paul McMullan continued to impress, by both winning and dispatching the penalty as the Terrors started the season in a tentatively impressive manner.

4. Andrew Irving (Berwick Rangers)

Such was the way Berwick’s 3-1 win over Clyde panned out it would have been a justifiable decision to award this position to goalkeeper Robbie McCrorie. The on-loan Rangers man had an impressive match between the sticks, and he had to with David Goodwillie and our old favourite Smart Osadolor causing a fair amount of angst for the Berwick rearguard. However, despite McCorie’s impressive stint, it was difficult to see past 17-year-old Hearts loanee Andrew Irving who supplied two goals and an assist with his direct free-kick striking the post before being poked in by Aaron Murrell to seal a smash-and-grab victory. A disappointing start to the season for the Annan Athletic 2016/17 squad.

3. Callumn Morrison (Stirling Albion)

Proving the bookies do occasionally get it wrong, Stirling Albion were 3/1 at one point to win at Stenhousemuir, a curious price for a team that’s expected to challenge at the top end of the table come May. Admittedly, both the bookmakers and the Warriors appeared to be on to something as Stenny went in at the interval 2-1 to the good. But a smashing second-half performance from the Binos, and from on-loan Hearts winger Callumn Morrison in particular, turned the match around. The 18-year-old smacked in the equaliser and set up the winner. While his performance may actually have bettered that of Gavin Reilly we’ve demoted him a position for that silly n at the end of his first name.

2. Gavin Reilly (St Mirren)

Just how good a player is Gavin Reilly? His goal-laden tenure at Queen of the South suggested he was at the very least, capable, but his miserable spells at both Tynecastle and East End Park put a fairly significant question mark over his abilities. Admittedly Gorgie can affect even the best players, just look at Connor Sammon for instance, and Reilly’s showing on Saturday suggests the Buddies may have acquired a player whose performances will be more akin to his former club rather than the latter. He was involved in all of St. Mirren’s goals in their surprisingly comfortable 3-1 win over Falkirk, facilitating the first two and finishing off the third. He may even have done more good stuff but it was difficult to tell from the Falkirk highlights, which appeared to be filmed through an unwashed jam-jar.

1. Craig Moore (Ayr United)

Apparently the definition of performance art is ‘a situation which involves four basic elements; time, space, the performer’s body, and a relationship between performer and audience’. Using that as a handy guide, we can perhaps better start to understand the career of Ross Perry, who continues to wow onlookers on a weekly basis with the Albion Rovers fans the ones who are now lucky enough to be treated to his regular spectacles. The Wee Rovers defender was at the hub of most of Ayr United’s best moments as they ran in five goals but could have had a few more, with Craig Moore burying the SPFL’s first league hat-trick of the season. There’ll be a fair few positions separating these two teams come season’s end.


Written by Shaughan McGuigan

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