The 10 best Scottish lower league players this week

October 26, 2017

10. Iain Flannigan (Alloa Athletic)

If Baz Luhrmann was to update his 1999 hit Everyone’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen), a spoken word, advice-dispensing preamble, he’d almost certainly insert a line asking people to watch last week’s match highlights of East Fife versus Albion Rovers. A lot can change in seven days though, and any edited down package of the Methil club’s 4-1 loss to Alloa would probably best be avoided by Methlites everywhere. Along with the rest of his Alloa colleagues, Iain Flannigan has struggled for form this term, but his sumptuous free-kick brought a final flourish to the proceedings in this one. Not that everyone was impressed admittedly, with one East Fife supporting dame berating East Fife goalkeeper Mark Hurst for failing to keep out one of the goals of the weekend. Tough crowd.

9. Jordan McGhee (Falkirk)

It’s now four games without loss since Peter Houston left the Falkirk Bairns, which, combined with the concession of no goals in that time, suggests Paul Hartley’s ninth placed side should just have enough about them to stave off Brechin. This 0-0 draw with St Mirren was certainly nothing to write home about, and with both teams were probably reasonably satisfied with a point apiece. It was the footballing equivalent of an insouciant shrug. Jordan McGhee has certainly bolstered Falkirk’s defensive options, fitting in comfortably to a left-back position which had previously been taken by Tony Gallacher, a player whose performances had suggested those links to Barcelona must have been started by his Mum. St Mirren stay top, while Falkirk keep pace with the teams above them.

8. Alan Martin (Queen of the South)

Perhaps it was just the frustration of Brechin reaching their 10th league game of the season without getting a win, but it all kicked off at full-time in this Brechin versus Queen’s encounter. Jason Kerr and Ally Love were both red carded for their part in a fracas, although in Kerr’s defence, his involvement seemed to involve taking a bit of a pasting from Love, so it’s no surprise to see the Doonhamers appeal. As for the game, it was a case of déjà vu all over again as Darren Dod’s side once more applied themselves well, only to come up against an in-form keeper in Alan Martin and going down to a late goal from Kerr. With almost a third of the season gone, Queen of the South continue to kind of hang about irrelevantly, but with just two points to their name, Brechin could be the recipient of some unwanted records come season’s end.

7. Calumn Morrison (Stirling Albion)

Are Cowdenbeath ever going to score a goal again? If the answer is no, and the current evidence all points that way, then it isn’t unfair to suggest that Billy Brown’s men may be in a wee spot of bother. The Blue Brazilians have now managed just one in seven matches after this 3-0 loss to Stirling Albion, and even that was a last minute penalty. Although, if there is a mere sliver of light, it’s that despite their predicament both Edinburgh City and Clyde are within one win of the Fife outfit. For Albion, this result was a fine way to rebound after the riddy of last weekend’s pummelling from Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale, with the victory taking them five points clear at the top, as on-loan Hearts winger Calumn Morrison again looked a cut above team-mates and opponents alike. With Stenhousemuir next up, followed by fixtures against two of the division’s bottom three, Dave McKay’s team could be in-line to establish a sizable lead before tussling with Peterhead at the end of November.#

6. Craig Barr (Dumbarton)

Morton versus Dumbarton ended up as a tame 1-1 draw on Saturday, although the Sons got off to the perfect start with Mark Stewart opening the scoring inside the first ten minutes. Not that any away fans actually saw it of course, as Morton’s new-fangled automated ticket system means you’ll only gain access by 3pm on a Saturday is if you queue from approximately 4am on the Friday, like a gaggle of Boyzone enthusiasts looking to buy briefs for a Ronan Keating gig. Morton did eventually fight back to claim a point though, with Jim Duffy’s eye-opening, head scratching 4-2-4 formation eventually leading to Bob McHugh restoring parity. Although with Craig Barr again doing a superb job of protecting the Sons back-four, a ‘Ton winner never looked likely. Both of these teams look too good to go down, and nowhere near good enough to go up, a situation that will leave Steve Aitken a lot happier than Jim Duffy.

5. Danny Denholm (Arbroath)

We’re still awaiting Airdrieonians putting out a statement describing the Red Lichties as “big spending Arbroath”, but considering the Diamonds propensity for a press-release, it can’t be too far off. These are halcyon days to be an Arbroath fan; less so for Airdrie. One Diamonds fan loudly lamented “this is f*cking p*sh,” as accurate a description for their defending as you’ll find anywhere. The injury to Steven Doris a few weeks back was supposed to be a hindrance to Dick Campbell’s team, but their results since haven’t hinted at too many encumbrances, with Danny Denholm filling the striker role with aplomb, netting another brace to take his tally for the season to eight. Props too to Airdrie defender Dean Cairns, who reacted with such fury at each goal he appeared minutes away from his head exploding like a victim from the film Scanners.

4. Iain Vigurs (Inverness Caledonian Thistle)

The last time Inverness played a league match at Tannadice, Gavin Gunning famously exited stage left, decisively deciding there and then that enough was enough. This time around, it was Ray McKinnon’s time which came to an ignominious end with a 2-0 defeat, and incredibly, he arguably leaves them in a bigger state now than when he first took over. There’s every chance that he had enough belief in his own abilities to turn things around, but when even Coll Donaldson can bam you up at full-time, you know it’s a busted flush. Iain Vigurs drove Caley Thistle on to what was their best win of the campaign with the opening goal, and one that could conceivably help to kick-start some momentum, as they unexpectedly continue to linger at the fag-end of the Championship. With reports linking John Hughes to the vacant United position, we can only presume Stephen Thompson is keen to appoint a ranting slaver with an ego the size of Mount Rushmore, who says things like “MAN-O-EH-MAN-O.” That’ll help.

3. Ryan McCord (Arbroath)

When you’re an Arbroath fan, you don’t really expect to be saying sentences like “it was our seventh goal that was the best one”, but then you don’t come up against ramshackle, discombobulate outfits like Airdrie too often. Of course, it was only last week that we pointed out on the Pod that the Diamonds had appeared to stabilise under the stewardship of Stevie Findlay, but as usual, it didn’t take too long for our surprisingly powerful hex powers to take effect. Even in the long, long list of bleak days which have dogged the Diamonds in recent years, a 7-1 defeat from Arbroath must be right up there, (or should that be down there?), as the Red Lichties brought their goal tally for the season to 27 in just 10 matches. Ryan Conroy had actually given the away side the lead, but another masterful display from Ryan “Podgy Pirlo” McCord, who scored a brace, the game quickly unravelled from an Airdrie perspective.

2. Fraser Aird (Dunfermline Athletic)

The signing of Fraser Aird was greeted with something approaching dismay by a fair whack of Pars fans in the summer. Partly due to him being guff at Falkirk, and also perhaps down to his tendency to sing Rangers songs whilst picking up bar work in some Ibrox themed hellhole. However, if the Canadian international can continue to produce the same level of performance as he put in during this 3-0 win over Livingston, then he could have a big say in how well the Pars do this term. The winger scored a wonderful second goal and assisted one of Kallum Higginbotham’s efforts, as he produced his best performance since proving that Lee Wallace was indeed Scotland’s umpteenth choice left-back in that friendly at Easter Road. Dunfermline move up to second on the back of the win, and are now just two points behind St. Mirren.

1. Michael Moffat (Ayr United)

It would appear that ushering Gary Bollan out the exit door wasn’t quite the silver bullet to fix Forfar’s frailties. There certainly didn’t appear to be too many differences in Forfar’s 5-0 loss to Ayr, other than the fact they arguably looked even more feeble than usual. There had been some concerns that Michael Moffat was experiencing a slight mental hurdle in terms of notching up his 100th career goal, with the lower league luminary sitting on 99 since August. By full time on Saturday he’d shot up to 102, helped considerably by some wonderfully dunderheided defending from the Loons. With Raith’s game with Stranraer being abandoned due to Stair Park slipping 20,000 leagues under the sea, Ayr moved to within two points of Barry Smith’s side at the top of League One.


Written by Shaughan McGuigan

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