The 10 best Scottish lower league players this week

February 21, 2018

10. Alan Trouten (Albion Rovers)

Bobby Barr had an interesting weekend, swearing at Raith fans during the game, haranguing Albion Rovers followers at full-time, moaning about supporters on Twitter while liking a post that was critical of the Raith fans, as well as criticising the Cliftonhill match programme in the post-game media scrum. His actual performance was less to write home about though, with the winger largely anonymous as Raith became the first away side to drop points at Cliftonhill twice this term. This 2-2 draw was far from a classic, but Alan Trouten’s brace brought about a welcome point for a side which had taken not a single one from their previous six outings.

9. Mark Millar (Forfar Athletic)

Well, even the perma-smiling Baxter Bridie couldn’t have foreseen this positive result coming. After two successive defeats, and no goals scored, Forfar lifted themselves out of the relegation places with a 5-1 humbling of Stranraer. Indeed, at one stage it looked like it could have been even worse for Steve Farrell’s team, who were four down after less than half an hour in a game which curtailed their playoff aspirations. Dylan Easton and Mark Millar dictated proceedings in the middle of the park, and while the former got himself on the scoresheet, the latter possibly just shaded matters as Forfar start to show signs of life under Jim Weir.

8. Lawrence Shankland (Ayr United)

We’re not sure we’d like be in Ian McCall’s bad books, especially after an eye-operation saw him with sporting an eye-patch look during Ayr’s 3-0 win over East Fife. Fair play then to Declan McDaid, who celebrated his goal in this 3-0 win by covering his eye. Maybe his strike did get him a little wriggle room with that one. This win narrowed the gap at the top of League One to six points with Lawrence Shankland again in good form. It was even claimed with those rarest of things, a clean-sheet, their first in the league since November. But such was the Methilites paucity of performance up-front, the shut-out never seemed in doubt.

7. Derek Gaston (Greenock Morton)

Stephen Dobbie almost, almost, managed to score the goal of the season on Saturday, and while it won’t be too much solace to the hirsute goal-grabber, he did contribute to the save of the season. Derek Gaston’s clawback from under the bar, backward roll into the net, and pounce forward to stop the ball rolling over the line, was the main talking point of Saturday’s 1-1 draw between Queen of the South and Morton, a point which was of more use to Jim Duffy’s men. The Greenock side are now four points clear of fifth place Dunfermline and just two behind a faltering Dundee United.

6. Tommy Robson (Falkirk)

We can’t help but think that Brechin may be in a spot of bother. With just four draws and a whopping 20 defeats to their name this season, the 16-point gap to Dumbarton is probably looking unbridgeable to even the most glass-half-full of City fans. However, even for a side which has probably experienced the full gamut of defeats this term, Saturday’s must have rankled more than most. They managed to reach the 90 minute mark against Falkirk with the score tied at 0-0, and with just ten men to boot, but Alex Jakubiak’s last-gasp goal denied them their fifth point of the campaign. The win put clear blue sky between Falkirk and Dumbarton, with left-wing-back Tommy Robson demonstrating again what a good addition he’s been by Paul Hartley.

5. Peter MacDonald (Stirling Albion)

It’s been an unusual season for Dave McKay and Stirling Albion. The Binos have veered from early season title-aspiring hot-shots to mid-table mediocrities, but with recent reinforcements all bedding in nicely, the playoffs now look a sure-fire bet. This 3-0 win over Annan Athletic kept them in third place, one point ahead of Stenhousemuir, with Peter MacDonald’s brace meaning he’s now scored five goals in three games. With the teams at the top of League Two all appearing evenly matched, the playoffs could be quite the ding-dong.

4. David Goodwillie (Clyde)

It wasn’t too long ago that Clyde were being ranked alongside Cowdenbeath as potential candidates for finishing bottom, but five straight wins for the Bully Wee and a 19 point gap probably puts paid to that theory. Danny Lennon initially made his side hard to beat when he arrived, but the longer his tenure has progressed, the more impressive they’ve become. Not that they had to be at their best against an abject Cowdenbeath team. There was no answer to David Goodwillie, whose brace brought about a straightforward 2-0 win. They’ve almost certainly given themselves too much to do this season, but Clyde appear to have something to build on for next term.

3. Ryan Hardie (Livingston)

Something appears to be stirring down West Lothian way. A Livingston side which was already talented has been augmented and upgraded during January, and as this 4-1 win over St. Mirren proves, they’ll be no makeweights when the season-closing playoffs get underway. Ryan Hardie provided his third and fourth goals of his short stay at the club in a game which may have put the merest slivers of doubt into St Mirren fans heads about the destination of the Championship title. Friday night’s live game between Livi and Dundee United will go a fair way to see who can dodge the extra playoff round.

2. Liam Polworth (Inverness Caledonian Thistle)

That Jake Mulraney was presented with a bottle of Irn Bru live on TV, while providing viewers with the most indecipherable Irish accent since Brad Pitt in Snatch, and the fact that it wasn’t one of the more unusual aspects of the Challenge Cup semi-final between Inverness and Crusaders tells you much about this encounter. An absolute slobber-knocker, played out in what appeared to be a child’s sandpit, saw Inverness race into a three goal lead, almost throw it away, before a last minute broo-haha saw several skirmishes, a red-card, and one of the worst penalties taken in recent times. John Robertson’s team eventually made it to the final with a 3-2 win, with Liam Polworth getting bonus points for rattling the entire Crusaders team for having the temerity to be fouled in the late drama. Smashing stuff.

1. Danny Handling (Dumbarton)

The Irn Bru Cup isn’t exactly short of detractors. Even at the best of times, Scotland’s third knock-out tournament has been labelled the ‘diddy cup’, a competition which few apparently take any interest in until the semi-final stage, when fans start to eye a final, and with it, a decent day out. Moulding it into a cross-border knockabout has met with a lukewarm reception, while the pointless addition of Development sides makes the early rounds something of a farce. Try telling Dumbarton fans it’s an irrelevance, though. The Sons, backed by a travelling support that outnumbered the home TNS fans by three-to-one, reached their first cup-final since 1897, with Dimitris Fxoxylias’ incredible free-kick sparking some wild scenes. Danny Handling’s goal wasn’t too shabby either, with the midfielder putting in his finest Sons performance since joining in the summer.


Written by Shaughan McGuigan

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