The 10 best Scottish lower league players this week

November 29, 2017

10. Jack Baird (St Mirren)

There’s probably no better allegory to illustrate the rise and fall of Inverness Caledonian Thistle Football Club than its output on Twitter dot com. Go back just a few years to those halcyon days of cup winning, top-six bothering, and early European exits, and their social media was an unusual, and occasionally witty anachronism in the staid world of club accounts. Nowadays though, it’s a slavery, slabbering, try-hard mess, which gives off the impression that the person who runs it would be an irritating person to sit next to on a bus. Indeed, that Pornhub brouhaha from early in the season was one of the least embarrassing things they’ve produced this season. As for the match, St. Mirren’s 2-0 win was backs-to-the-wall at times, but with the redoubtable Jack Baird superb at the back, The Buddies sneaked past their hosts.

9. Finn Graham (Brechin City)

With a new manager recently installed in Csaba Laszlo and coming off the back of their best performance of the season in the guise of a 3-0 win over Falkirk, besting Brechin City seemed a shoe-in to most casual observers in the build up to Saturday’s encounter. Nothing is straightforward in this season’s Championship however. Behind at the interval, it looked like the Glebe Park side were on their way to their 11th defeat in 13, but they rallied well in the second-period, and could well have conjured up those rarest of things, a Brechin win. Finn Graham put in an energetic display in the middle of the park, but Brechin need much more than hustle-and-bustle if they’re to escape from their impossibly precarious looking situation.

8. David Gold (Arbroath)

The latest Angus derby between Arbroath and Forfar Athletic was far from a classic, but it won’t be quickly forgotten by those associated with either side. It’ll certainly live long in the memory for Forfar goalkeeper, Marc McCallum, who sprinted 40 yards to berate the assistant referee for some unknown reason after the Red Lichties had scored a last minute, scene-inducing goal, which gave us the surreal sight of the keeper going mad while a clutch of middle-aged, old-enough-to-know-better Arbroath fans leaned over the hoardings to laugh right in his face. Lovely stuff. As for the game, David Gold played a far bigger role than first anticipated, coming on as an early substitute for Danny Denholm, and starring in this 2-1 win, which lifts Dick Campbell’s side up to third in the table.

7. Shaun Byrne (Livingston)

If Falkirk are this season’s St Mirren, or even Raith Rovers, then maybe it’s time to admit that Livingston are this season’s Morton. That may seem like faint praise, considering the Greenock sides faltering end to the last campaign which frittered away in the playoffs, but Livi and David Hopkin are impressing all and sundry this term. Saturday’s dismantling of Queen of the South was the Doonhamers first defeat in 90 minutes in 11 games, so the ease of the 3-0 win shouldn’t be taken for granted. In a game where a number of players impressed, Shaun Byrne deserved the plaudits for his performance in a midfield which trampled over their direct opponents. The midweek loss to St Mirren was a blow, but Livi look a decent bet for the playoffs.

6. Lewis Vaughan (Raith Rovers)

There’s a nagging feeling that things are grinding to a halt at Stark’s Park. Results have faltered, performances have dipped as sharply as the temperature, and confidence appears to be in short supply as Ayr have surged passed them in recent weeks. Despite that though, if they can keep things tight at the back as they did on Saturday, there’s still just enough individual talent within the team to dig them out of their funk. That generally comes in the shape of Lewis Vaughan, and the sprightly forward was the eventual match changer in Saturday’s dour 2-0 win over Queen’s Park, with both assists. The result kept Barry Smith’s team within touching distance of Ayr, but with the momentum now with the Honest Men, reinforcements are probably required in Kirkcaldy.

5. Gary Harkins (Morton)

The Falkirk fans must have been mightily relieved that the squad had that clear the air meeting last week. Goodness knows how many they’d have been hosed by if they hadn’t. This wretched 3-0 defeat to Morton gave the Falkirk TV commentators another chance to practise their descriptive skills on topics ranging from misery to hopelessness and all points in-between, and at this rate, they’ll have covered more disasters than Kate Adie by season’s end. Things are bleak when Gary Harkins is running amok against you, but he chipped in with a goal and assist, the latter coming at the end of a meandering run where the Falkirk players were apparently unaware they were allowed to challenge. Morton close the gap between themselves and the playoffs, Falkirk are in disarray.

4. Dimitris Froxylias (Dumbarton)

Allan Johnston claimed after Dunfermline’s 2-2 draw with Dumbarton that they should be blowing away teams like the Sons, which is a fairly bold claim for a side that’s only picked up one more point than Falkirk across their last seven outings. They certainly didn’t look like picking up all three in this one, with Steve Aitken’s side unfortunate not to grab a vital win after leading 2-1 going into the closing stages. It wouldn’t have provided too much solace after the squandering of two points, but they did manage to produce the goal of the weekend, thanks to Dimitris Froxylias blootering in an exceptional strike from distance. With the Greek-Cypriot recently signing a contract extension, Dumbarton now look a far better proposition for staying in the division.

3. Michael Moffat (Ayr United)

It all got a little heated between Alloa Athletic and Ayr United at the weekend. Jim Goodwin was sent to the stand for something he said, which seems kind of ironic as he spent his entire career generally avoiding sanction for spearing people in the head with his elbow. Alloa left-back Callum Crane also generated some ire, getting a booking for giving the entire away support a “mon then” gesture, a bad look when you’re part of a team which concedes a last minute goal in a 2-1 defeat. Michael Moffat was excellent once again, displayed his ubiquitousness, starting up top and grabbing the opener, before proving equally adept in a more withdrawn position in midfield. The win keeps Ayr three points clear at the top, although Alloa remain in the playoff spots.

2. Bruce Anderson (Elgin City)

Elgin City have looked a little leaky at the back this term, but even so, Gavin Price’s attempted solution appeared to feature a large dollop of out-the-box thinking on Saturday, lining up with a back-four that comprised of three centre-halves and a striker. That said, Jordan Allan looked more assured at the back than he does up front in this 5-1 stroll over the Wee Rangers. On-loan Aberdeen forward Bruce Anderson was the main man though, scoring two and having a third disallowed, although he was the beneficiary of a horrendous/hilarious (delete as applicable) sclaffed clearance from Berwick goalie Robbie McCrorie as Elgin moved up to third in the table.

1. Kyle Wilkie (East Fife)

“Show me a better run part-time club in the country than East Fife and I’ll call you a liar!” commented one particularly excitable East Fife fan on Twitter in the aftermath of this 6-1 win over Airdrie, seemingly oblivious of Dumbarton, the part-time side who are currently enjoying their sixth consecutive season in the second-tier. It’s probably fair to say that Airdrieonians aren’t the best at anything right now, quite the opposite in fact, as they’re now well on the way to taking the title of the worst full-time side of all time, just pipping last season’s Airdrie team in the process. Kyle Wilkie helped himself to a brace in this embarrassingly one-sided romp, as East Fife moved level on points with Alloa in the race for the playoffs.

 

Written by Shaughan McGuigan


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