The 10 best Scottish lower league players this week

August 15, 2017

10. Dougie Hill (Dumbarton)

Presumably, Falkirk’s marketing team will eventually run out of perplexing things to put fans into as a raffle prize, but lets hope it’s not for a long, long time. Last season’s hot-tub incident will take some beating, but fair play to them for giving it a bash as they winched some poor saps high into the air to watch a match from inside a metallic box, suspended by a crane. We’re not sure it was a great vantage point, but even at that height, they would still have been able to make out the unmistakable sight of Peter Houston’s beetroot dome. This was supposed to be a stroll for the Bairns, but marshaled by Craig Barr and Dougie Hill, Dumbarton held out for a thoroughly merited 1-1 draw. It’s been a decent start to the season for the Sons, less so for the Bairns.

9. Kalvin Orsi (Brechin City)

After last weekend’s shellacking from Queen of the South, things looked bleak for Brechin again on Saturday, trailing 2-0 to Livingston at the interval. Credit then to Darren Dods’s men for fighting back to claim a share of the spoils in this 2-2 draw, but for David Hopkirk’s Amber Machine there was frustration that for the second week in succession they’d failed to fully capitalise on a strong start. Former St Mirren winger, Kalvin Orsi was paired up-top with the talismanic Andy Jackson, and the tentative signs were encouraging, with Jackson assisting Orsi for the goal that got Brechin back into the match that helped lift the Glebe Parkers off the bottom of the table.

8. Robbie Crawford (Ayr United)

Ayr United and Raith Rovers already occupy the top-two spots in the third tier, and it’s difficult to envision any other side shoehorning their way in anytime soon. There’s been a slight change to the Honest Men’s nifty highlights package this season with the addition of commentary, although this isn’t the first time their footage has had running dialogue, albeit the previous occasion simply featured seven and a half minutes of Brian Reid swearing next to the camera. No such profanity was was audible during Ayr’s 3-0 win over Forfar though, with Robbie Crawford capping a fine performance with the final goal. The first meeting with Raith Rovers at the start of September already feels like a pivotal fixture.

7. Darren Smith (Stirling Albion)

Peterhead may have started the season as understandable favourites, but if anyone is going to give them a run for their money, you’d expect it to be the Binos. They brushed aside Berwick on Saturday, with a one-sided 4-0 win, although according to the SPFL stats, the Wee Rangers had 20 shots on goal, with 19 of them hitting the target. That must mean that either Stirling goalkeeper Cameron Binnie had a quite exceptional 90 minutes, or the statistics are absolute bumf. We know what we’d bet on. Darren Smith scored twice, with his first an absolute beezer into the top corner, as Dave McKay’s men go top on goal difference.

6. Rory McAllister (Peterhead)

When you’re already 2-0 down and struggling to keep your head above water, what you don’t need is for your goalkeeper to inexplicably throw the ball a couple of yards too far in front of himself, panic, sprint to clear it away, cannon the drive off the forward and concede a third. Unfortunately for Elgin City, and Marc Waters in particular, that’s exactly what happened on Saturday. Presumably the on-looking Jim Weir’s ploughed field of a forehead became even more furrowed as he watched the horror/hilarity (delete as applicable) unfold. Before all that, Rory McAllister had already put the Blue Toon in control with a brace, taking his tally for the season to five already. Even by McAllister’s own standards, this could be a bumper season for him.

5. Jai Quitongo (Morton)

Scottish football’s wisest sage Chick Young jumped back on the Jim Duffy-for-Scotland bandwagon after Morton’s 4-1 win over St. Mirren. As unlikely as that would be, our footballing weekend just featured an angry looking, kilt-wearing, disfigured sun mooning the Celtic huddle, so nothing should really surprise us anymore. Talking of the unexpected, it used to be the case that a Morton win in the Renfrewshire derby was exactly that, but less so nowadays. They were certainly decisive victors in this one, as Jai Quitongo bullied the Buddies defence into submission, and the concession of two penalties, in a surprisingly simple Morton romp. Quitongo was badly missed through injury last term, and the concern for Morton fans now, is that he’s squirreled elsewhere before this one really gets going.

4. Lewis Vaughan (Raith Rovers)

It may already have been pointed out a gazillion times, but it was only a few months ago that Gary Locke believed that Ryan Stevenson was genuinely a better option than Lewis Vaughan. However, while the former is jobbing around League Two and getting silly tattoos in even sillier places, the former took his tally for the season to seven, with a double in a 3-0 win over Stranraer. That’s not to say Rovers had it all their own way, with Steve Farrell’s side impressing in the first period, but after Vaughan opened the scoring late in the first-half, there was only ever going to be one winner, as Raith move into second place in the table.

3. Sam Stanton (Dundee United)

There were some bold predictions that there could be a decent title fight between Dundee United and Falkirk this term, and while it’s early days, if the two clubs current points per game average continues, there’ll be 90 points separating them come season’s end. The Terrors’ 2-1 win over Queen of the South didn’t look likely at one stage, with Paul McMullan sent off after half an hour. Although the Queen’s Twitter feed did predict it, since they suggested the scoreline was 2-1 for larges swathes of the time it was one all. Makes a pleasant change from them tweeting “test” every second day though. Goalkeeper Harry Lewis impressed again, but it was Sam Stanton who was the victory’s biggest architect, with the former Celtic player again displaying why he has the potential to be the Championship’s most important signing of the summer.

2. Connor Shields (Albion Rovers)

And there was us thinking Albion Rovers defensive performance against Ayr United would take some beating. Imagine our surprise then, when they handed over the baton of atrociousness to their latest opponents, Queen’s Park, who utterly capitulated at home to Brian Kerr’s team by five goals to two. Alan Trouten’s acquisition is looking like a masterstroke with each passing week, but despite the veteran grabbing a double, it was 18-year-old Rovers forward, Connor Shields who was the stick-out. Shields’ own double took his tally for the season to six already – his second goal our favourite – with Spiders midfielder Sean Burns confusingly squaring a free-kick to Trouten, who teed up the teenager. This could be a long season for Gus McPherson’s unit.

1. Callum Smith (Dunfermline Athletic)

Even if you don’t watch University Challenge, you’ll be familiar with the format. Jeremy Paxman asks two teams of people who look like they’ve never seen the inside of a girl’s bedroom some insanely tough questions, and the team with the most double-barrelled names wins. However, there is one quandary that no team would ever be able to answer. There’s simply too many imponderables, complexities and connotations to settle on one definitive solution, and that is: Just who is Inverness Caledonian Thistle’s worst summer signing? The Pars certainly carved them open with ease during their 5-1 win on Saturday, and while Joe Cardle caught the eye, 17-year-old, Callum Smith was arguably more exciting player to watch, with the teenager putting in a performance which suggests he could be Fife’s greatest discovery since coal.

Written by Shaughan McGuigan

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