The 10 best Scottish lower league players this week

December 6, 2017

10. Scott Robertson (Raith Rovers)

The game between Raith Rovers and Alloa Athletic burst into life after a dour first-half. Oddly though, it was during the interval rather than the second period, as that was when a touching eulogy to recently deceased former player, Jimmy McEwan, was almost drowned out by the sudden arrival of 1970’s Chic hit Le Freak over the PA system. Let’s face it, nothing says respect more than Alfa Anderson belting out the line, “AAAH, FREAK OUT!” That aside, the second 45 minutes were more noteworthy than the first, producing all three goals in this 2-1 win for Raith. Scott Robertson was a stand-out again, understandably looking far more at home in his natural central-midfield role. The win kept Rovers on the coat tails of Ayr, as the two continue to distance themselves from the pack.

9. Coll Donaldson (Inverness Caledonian Thistle)

Inverness Caledonian Thistle’s Twitter account couldn’t help itself at the weekend, retweeting as many comments as possible which branded the SPFL a disgrace, only stopping for breath to be bodied by Kilmarnock winger, Jordan Jones. Perhaps the user is just getting frustrated they can’t spell the word ‘goal’ with 27 letters these days, considering the side is on a mission to stock-pile as many 0-0 draws as possible. The blank scoreline, this time against Q.O.S, was ICT’s fourth this term, and while their defensive solidity is rightly praised, they’re sorely lacking quality up the other end. That’s something the Doonhamers don’t lack, but Stephen Dobbie and pals failed to make too much of an impression against the miserly ICT defence, which was well shackled once again by the impressive Coll Donaldson.

8. Alex Mitchell (Annan Athletic)

“Wooft what a weekend min, Newcastle is some fuckin place” opined Darryl McHardy on Twitter over the weekend. The mind boggles as to what sights the Elgin defender must have witnessed in order for him to go “wooft” but then the Elgin man would have been keen to wipe Saturday’s result against Annan from his mind, as the Black and White’s up-and-down season continued with this 2-0 defeat. The win for Peter Murphy’s team actually made it five games unbeaten for Annan, albeit the other four were draws. They were reliant on goalkeeper Alex Mitchell for the result, with the stopper producing two outstanding saves in the first-half. Incidentally, judging by the post, “can’t stop being sick, this train homes gonna be brutal,” McHardy’s Sunday wasn’t up to much either.

7. Willis Furtado (Airdrieonians)

Airdrieonians season has been labelled as something of a car-crash from all and sundry, and it isn’t difficult to see why. Weird statements, months on end without a manager, boardroom uncertainty, and an opening to the campaign which has witnessed the concession of 31 goals in just 15 league games. But, and here’s the rub, after Saturday’s come-from-behind 2-1 win over Forfar Athletic, the Diamonds now find themselves just three points off a playoff spot. Perhaps we’ve been too hard on them, or perhaps the vast majority of the sides in this division are all much of a muchness, but regardless, Airdrie aren’t a million miles away from potential promotion. The mind boggles. Willis Furtado was the hero, with a goal and an assist in a game which continued Jim Weir’s poor start at Station Park.

6. Rory McAllister (Peterhead)

It’s been an excellent few weeks for Jim McInally’s Blue Toon. After producing one of the shocks of the round in the Scottish Cup with the skelping of Raith Rovers, they’re now the cock-of-the-walk in League Two after a midweek win over Stirling Albion. It was Saturday’s 3-0 triumph over Edinburgh City which gave them that platform though, with Rory McAllister’s double taking him to 20 goals for the season. He could, and probably should have made it home with the match-ball, but was denied a hat-trick by Calum Antell when clean through. He did add to his tally in the most important game in Scotland on Tuesday though, as Peterhead moved ahead of Montrose and Stirling Albion at the top with a 1-0 victory.

5. Gary Harkins (Morton)

Fair play to Brechin City. They’ve built a solid brand as cannon-fodder this season, and they didn’t look like relinquishing it at any point in this one-sided 4-1 defeat in Greenock. Gary Harkins got things moving after just a couple of minutes, and Jim Duffy’s men eventually pulled away from a side that looks increasingly incapable of winning with each passing week. Well, until they play Falkirk, perhaps. Just like the previous weekend, Harkins was resplendent in the middle-of-the-park, and with Dunfermline’s form on the slide, the ‘Ton moved level on points with the Pars in the battle for a place in the coveted playoffs.

4. Luke Donnelly (Queen’s Park)

There’s no getting away from it, East Fife are just weird. Scintillating last week during their 6-1 win over Airdrie, they were outplayed by the Spiders for long spells at the weekend, as Gus MacPherson’s Queen’s Park moved to within one point of Forfar at the bottom of the table. This 2-1 win followed a run of five successive league defeats for the Hampden Park outfit, and whilst the amateur side had been written off in some quarters, more performances like this one could see them overhaul the Loons at the very least. Luke Donnelly was the match-winner with a well taken brace, but his involvement in most of Queen’s good work bodes well for the relegation tussle which lies ahead.

3. Lawrence Shankland (Ayr United)

Opposition players should perhaps start to learn that when you’re playing a side that’s as free-scoring as Ayr United, it’s best not to bam up their fans until the game’s actually done and dusted, lest you look silly. Following Callum Crane last week, Alan Trouten was giving it the big yahoo after his equaliser had made it two apiece, but Chris Higgins made it 3-2 just seconds later, leaving Trouten somewhat ashen-faced. Ayr have now scored 43 goals in their 15 league outings, with Lawrence Shankland a major factor in that quite remarkable figure. The forward may have been something of a flop at Championship level, but he continues to be a revelation one step down, scoring one and assisting another, as Ayr continue to set the pace in League One.

2. Tom Walsh (Dumbarton)

It’s safe to say that St Mirren fans weren’t particularly sold on Stuart Carswell, Kyle Hutton or Scott Gallagher during their time at the Buddies, so to line up against a side that contained all three, and not muster a single shot on target, must make for some disbelieving looks down Paisley way. And boos. Lots and lots of boos. Considering the Sons were unbeaten in five going into the match, this was never going to be easy for Jack Ross’ side, but it was made even harder by Stelios’ wild red card, with the Cypriot’s wide-eyed protestations comically exaggerated, considering he almost caved in Sam Wardrop’s cranium with his elbow. Tom Walsh’s goal was the least Steve Aitken’s men deserved, in a fine showing which lifted Dumbarton up to seventh.

1. Scott Fraser (Dundee United)

Dunfermline manager Allan Johnston described his side’s performance in their 2-1 defeat to Dundee United as “great”, which was a trifle odd seeing as they were anything but. It’s now just one win in eight games for the Pars, who have disconcertingly veered from upstart title-outsiders to playoff hopefuls, at best, over the last few months. As for United, they were hardly free-flowing themselves, but they had enough about them to see this one through after Dunfermline had pulled a goal back with quarter-of-an-hour remaining. Scott Fraser hasn’t always been the most popular player in the Tannadice stands, but he produced two decent first-half finishes as United took advantage of St Mirren’s defeat to head back to the top of the table.


Written by Shaughan McGuigan

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