The 10 best Scottish lower league players this week

February 7, 2018

10. Ross Stewart (Alloa Athletic)

Ian McCall was claiming a few weeks ago that impressive Kilmarnock winger Jordan Jones was worth considerably less than the £300,000 Rangers had reportedly bid for him. A penny for his thoughts then on the value of his latest acquisition John Ruddy, who became the latest Ayr custodian to serve up a cacophony of calamitous errors in this 2-1 defeat to Alloa. Ruddy was signed to replace the similarly gaffe-laden Jordan Hart, although early indicators suggest a fourth signing of Ryan Stevenson may have been a better solution. Jim Goodwin’s new-look Alloa side continued to impress though, with Ross Stewart appearing to be a fine piece of January transfer business as the St Mirren man grabbed his fourth goal of his loan spell.

9. Andrew Steeves (Montrose)

Up until the weekend, it had appeared that the the Blue Toon has reeled Montrose in at the top of League Two. Only one point separated them before their top-of-the-League tussle, and with Peterhead having played two games fewer, plus the not inconsequential matter of putting six passed Stuart Petrie’s men the last time they met, the stage seemed set for Peterhead to stretch their legs and assume leadership duties. Instead, Montrose grabbed a valuable and deserved 1-0 win, thanks to a goal from the gangly, human/stick-insect hybrid that is Chris Templeman, as well as a fine performance at left-wing-back from Andrew Steeves. Jim McInally’s side are still favourites for the fourth tier title, but it may not be quite straightforward as it appeared.

8. Kieran Miller (East Fife)

It’s been a funny season for Darren Young’s East Fife. Too good to get caught up with the riff-raff at the foot of the table, they don’t appear quite good enough to gate-crash the party at the top either, leading to a rather humdrum betwixt-and-between situation which has led to murmurings of discontent. This 2-0 win over Stranraer certainly lifted the gloom though, especially as the Blues were in a surprisingly rich vein of form beforehand. Kieran Miller was at the heart of both goals, unwisely being brought down by Chris McGowan for a penalty when it appeared the bobbly pitch may dispossess him anyway, before teeing up the man with longest hair in Scottish football, Mark Lamont, for the all-important second. The result meant Steve Farrell’s side slipped out the playoff spots at Alloa’s expense.

7. Danny Jardine (Stirling Albion)

The concern in recent weeks from a Bino perspective was how the club would fare without outstanding loan signing Calumn Morrison, who’d recently been repositioned to win-averse Brechin City. The answer, it seemed, was pretty darn well. The well-kent fizzog of Darren Barr has been brought in to steady the ship at the back, while Kevin Moon and Danny Jardine have been acquired to pick up the creativity which Morrison had supplied in spades. While all the newbies impressed against Elgin City, it was Jardine, on loan from St Johnstone, who pulled the strings in this 3-1 win. The result keeps Dave McKay’s side in the playoff positions and on the shirt-tails of Stenny.

6. Barry Cuddihy (Clyde)

After a seemingly unending string of nil-nil draws, Clyde have now put together three straight league wins to surely guarantee their SPFL safety. They may have been a little fortunate to take all three points from this 3-2 win over Edinburgh City, but in David Goodwillie and Barry Cuddihy they arguably had the game’s two best protagonists. The former scored a brace, but it was the latter who just shaded matters with a goal and two assists as Clyde start to contemplate looking up instead of down. As for the Edinburgh, the result was hardly a disaster, although the bottom of the table now looks like a two, at most, horse race.

5. Liam Smith (St Mirren)

Hearts appear to have a player on loan at virtually every lower league club these days, and it was one of the umpteen dozen, full-back Liam Smith, who made off with the man-of-the-match plaudits in St. Mirren’s 2-0 win over Queen of the South. The 21-year-old has demonstrated his defensive qualities during spells at East Fife, Raith Rovers and now the Buddies, but he also showed off his hitherto unseen ability to score belting goals with his long range effort opening the scoring in this stroll against a disappointing Doonhamers team. Jack Ross’ side are now 14 points clear of Dundee United, and games in hand or not, there appears to be just one logical conclusion as to where the title is heading this term.

4. Jack Iredale (Morton)

It’s difficult to top last minute #scenes, but they’ll always be improved by the goal coming from a goalkeeper inexplicably going walkabout and careering into their own centre-half. From a Dunfermline point-of-view, Lee Robinson’s decision to do just that was of course a disaster, but hopefully they can take solace from the fact that for everyone else, it was a right good laugh. The Pars’ record against full-time teams is no laughing matter though, with their 2-1 loss to Morton making it five wins in 18 as Morton moved a point clear of them in fourth thanks to Robinson’s bampottery. Morton’s Jack Iredale has performed admirably since returning from a loan spell at Queen’s Park, and he looks to be making the left-back berth his own as Morton seek to cement a playoff spot for the second season running.

3. Harrison Paton (Stenhousemuir)

It would be somewhat bold off us to make the assertion that Harrison Paton is the best player in the fourth tier, but the suggestion wouldn’t be too far off the mark. Brown Ferguson’s men have been somewhat up-and-down this term, a trait which means a genuine title tilt has been unobtainable, but on their day they’re a match for anyone at this level. They were certainly too good for a lily-livered Berwick Rangers team who all-too-often fall apart on their travels, and while the Wee Rangers ended the match with just ten men, they would have struggled to have taken anything with twelve. Paton scored one and played a part in two others, in a 4-0 win which could easily have been far more

2. Nicky Cadden (Livingston)

Falkirk may have been on a run of just one defeat in five outings prior to the weekend, but you got the impression that Paul Hartley’s side was now okay, rather than particularly good. Saturday’s 3-1 home loss to Livingston may not exactly prove that to be the case, but they were bullied into submission by an excellent looking Livi team, who could have won the game by far more than the two goal margin. On-loan wide man Reghan Tumilty had been the worthy recipient of praise in recent weeks, but he won’t look back on this one with any particular relish as Nicky Cadden tormented him for the majority of the match. Cadden supplied the cross balls from which Ryan Hardie and Liam Miller thrived upon, as David Hopkin’s side closed the gap to Dundee United, leaving a dishevelled Falkirk team to lick their wounds.

1. Willis Furtado (Raith Rovers)

It was only a few weeks ago that Raith Rovers fans were lamenting the dearth of any wide players, yet here they are, literally starting more wingers than there are wings in this 3-1 win over Queen’s Park. The return from Hearts of Dario Zanatta, the return from injury of Bobby Barr, and the signature of Willis Furtado has suddenly given Rovers a wealth of options out wide. Although, it was from a more advanced position that Furtado caused the damage on Saturday, walloping in a humdinger from 25-yards before celebrating in a low-key, cool-as-you-like fashion, which suggested he’d just solved a reasonably easy numbers game while watching Countdown, rather than score a screamer. The result meant it was all change again in the League One title race, as Raith overtook Ayr in a battle which continues to flip-flop between the two full-time teams on an incredibly regular basis.


Written by Shaughan McGuigan

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