The 10 best Scottish lower league players this week

December 14, 2017

10. Farid El Alagui (Edinburgh City)

“Where does he get those wonderful toys?” pined the Joker as Batman swooped away with a shrieking Vicki Vale in the eponymous superhero film from 1989. Well, the fact he’s really playboy billionaire Bruce Wayne probably helped matters in that regard, but if the white-faced, villainous despot ever stopped committing atrocities long enough to garner an interest in lower league Scottish football, he’d probably say something similar about Edinburgh City. Farid El Alagui became the latest name to join the capital club, and he rifled home a fine goal in this 1-1 draw with Elgin City. James McDonaugh is still yet to get a win as Edinburgh boss, but a point here and there is keeping them ahead of bottom-dwellers Cowdenbeath.

9. Jake Hastie (Airdrieonians)

Airdrie and Raith Rovers locked horns on Alba at the weekend, producing one of the coldest looking on-screen battles since Kurt Russell had a set-to with a shape-shifting alien in The Thing. This 2-2 draw was probably a good point for a side recently dubbed the worst full-time team of all time, but that’s enough about Raith Rovers. Airdrie were the far more impressive of the two sides in this one, with Jake Hastie providing a goal and an assist in a game where they were unfortunate not to take all three points, with Raith equalising in the last few seconds via an own-goal. Tentative signs of encouragement from Airdrie, both on and off the park.

8. Steven Hetherington (Alloa Athletic)

Jim Weir may have completed the Angus level of Scottish football management, but his stint at Forfar isn’t exactly going to plan thus far. This 2-0 loss to Alloa Athletic made it just two wins in nine, with the Loons now on a run of four successive defeats. Alloa on the other hand are going great guns, with this win making it five in seven league matches, as they tuck in behind Arbroath to sit fourth in League One. Kris Renton notched a double, but it was central-midfielder Steven Hetherington who impressed more, as he continues to nail down a starting berth after a long spell in and out of the side.

7. Gary Fraser (Montrose)

Mo’ manager, Stewart Petrie was bemoaning his side’s poor scoring record in the build up to their match with Berwick Rangers, and it clearly struck a chord somewhere as they sprinted into an early three-nil lead. The game was over as a contest in just 28 minutes after two goals from Gary Fraser and one from the evergreen Chris Templeman, who continues to impress despite making his debut against Third Lanark. The win lifted the Angus side back to the top of the table, while Berwick continue to look short of the desired quality required to make the playoff equation.

6. Cameron Belford (Stranraer)

While East Fife goalkeeper Mark Hurst was all over Twitter on Sunday, thanks to his magnificent stop from Paul Woods with just five minutes remaining, it was his opposing custodian who had the busier and more impressive afternoon. The Methil side were on top for the first hour or so of this 1-1 draw with Stranraer, but they would have been out of sight if not for several saves from the impressive Englishman. With neither of these sides able to find any kind of consistency of form, this game was essentially their season in microcosm. More is required if they’re to have anything above a mediocre campaign.

5. Lawrence Shankland (Ayr United)

This 3-2 win over Queen’s Park may not have been a vintage performance from Ayr United, nor even on a personal level for Lawrence Shankland, but while he failed to etch his name on the score-sheet, he did manage to play a role in all three Ayr goals. After being brought down for the penalty from which Ian McCall’s men took the lead, he then assisted both Declan McDaid and Alan Forrest for their late strikes as Ayr extended their lead over a stuttering Raith Rovers team to five points.

4. Isaac Layne (Brechin City)

If we’re leaving it until Brechin win a game to include a City player in the Top Ten again, then we could be in for long wait. With that in mind, today seems as good a time as any other. Darren Dods’ team were in charge for large swathes of the match against St Mirren, but still found a way to go down by the odd goal in three. It seems that if they didn’t have bad luck, they wouldn’t have any luck at all. Isaac Layne took to Twitter recently to lob insults Celtic’s way after being paired with them in the Scottish Cup, and he seems intent on making the starting XI for that game with a huge upsurge in form since the surprisingly dull (by our standards) draw was made. His goal hauled City level, but it was Saints that took all three points as they continue to pressure Dundee United at the summit.

3. Billy King (Dundee United)

It would be pushing it a little to say that Csaba Laszlo has transformed the fortunes of Dundee United since arriving at Tannadice. The Hungarian is keeping things ticking over in the same manner that caretaker-turned-assistant Laurie Ellis had before his arrival, but while performances have been functional rather than fulsome, that may be all that’s required to escape the morass The Tangerines currently find themselves in. They weren’t great in this 2-0 win over Morton, with the Greenock side disappointing after finding encouraging form in recent weeks. Billy King’s two goals sealed a dominant win, which keeps Laszlo’s lads just ahead of St Mirren at the top of the Championship.

2. Blair Henderson (Annan Athletic)

With around twenty minutes remaining of Stenhousemuir versus Annan Athletic, it appeared this close, on-a-knife-edge encounter was destined to finish all square, or perhaps 1-0 to one or t’other at a push. Colin McMenamin’s opener failed to see the Warriors home though, as the strike signalled an extraordinary late collapse.  Annan’s Blair Henderson was the main beneficiary, with his trio of finishes bringing about a 3-1 away triumph. The win lifted Annan above Stenny in the table to fifth, but perhaps the vanquished side can take some solace that their predicament meant that everyone could enjoy their neat Goal Conceded GIF, over and over again on Twitter dot com.

1. Stephen Dobbie (Queen of the South)

Despite recent dreadful form, Dunfermline boss Allan Johnston has been steadfastly talking his side up of late, but even Malcolm Tucker would have struggled to spin too many positives from this 5-2 home defeat to Queen of the South. Mind you, the foul-mouthed Thick Of It character would have felt right at home at East End Park, with the home fans turning the air blue with their abundant displeasure. Johnston’s jobbers were atrocious here, and while Chris Kane may have warranted a mention on any other day, Stephen Dobbie has to take full honours, with a fifteen minute hat-trick, as he put in arguably his greatest performance in a Queen’s jersey to date.


Written by Shaughan McGuigan

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