The 10 best Scottish lower league players this week

April 26, 2018

10. Callum Crane (Alloa Athletic)

“They’re no listening tae each other. Aw Jesus Christ. A can’t fucking believe that. A CAN’T FUCKING BELIEVE THAT! WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS? You don’t have a fucking clue. WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS? That’s a left-back. ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS? A fucking left-back!”

Until we watched the Alloa highlights package, our favourite moment of the Wasps 2-1 win over Ayr had been Craig Moore’s penalty kick, which probably inflicted as much damage on the Ochil Hills as Superman and General Zod caused to Metropolis in Man of Steel. Once we’d heard that sublime audio though, all bets were off. The fucking left-back in question was Callum Crane, with his seethe inducing performance causing angst for Ayr and the SPFL, who must have worn out their bleep machine to allow the footage to be used for Team of the Week. Add a dash of beef and Steven Bell lashing a flare over a wall into the mix, and you were left with a platinum classic.

9. Lyndon Dykes (Queen of the South)

Dundee United confirmed themselves as playoff participants at the weekend, and they did it in a style which was very much in keeping with their season to date. They got pumped 3-0. This humbling from Queen of the South was their eighth defeat on their travels this term, and while participating in the playoffs should really be seen as a route to promotion, for United fans it just feels like another opportunity to get embarrassed. A ninth minute tribute to the departing Derek Lyle was completely ruined by Queens scoring a goal in it, and the home side put in one of their most complete performances of the campaign, with Lyndon Dykes giving Bilel Mohsni and his defensive colleagues a torrid 90 minutes. After a slight upturn in fortunes, it’s back to the drawing board for Csaba.

8. Nicky Clark (Dunfermline)

There were some outstanding last minute #scenes in Inverness on Saturday, as Dunfermline grabbed an injury time equaliser to dent the home side’s hopes of finishing in the playoff spots. One fan appeared to dive head first back into the stand after running onto the park, while a somewhat larger supporter appeared to ask a steward if they could open a gate for them, as climbing anything was clearly out of the question. It had all looked good for John Robertson’s men, leading 2-1 and heading into the final stages, but the additional six minutes of injury-time was just enough for Nicky Clark to seal a point with a diving header, and the forward has been a huge factor in the Pars promotion push over the last two months, with eight goals in his last seven appearances. A win over Dumbarton and a top-four spot is guaranteed for Allan Johnston’s side.

7. Chris Templeman (Montrose)

Considering the SPFL’s budget restricts them to having about four employees and a laptop, we’re not entirely sure how they’re going to manage to pay for two helicopters this weekend. They’ll need to find it from somewhere though, after a 2-0 win for Montrose over Stenhousemuir, coupled with Peterhead’s win over Elgin, meant that the League Two ding-dong is going to the final day. Roared on by a huge travelling support at Ochilview, Chris Templeman put the Mo’ ahead after just two minutes, and their 2-0 win leaves them three points clear with just a draw against Elgin required to seal their first title since 1985. It’s quite the turnaround for a side far more used to participating at the opposite end of the table.

6. Euan Murray (Raith Rovers)

At the time, it had appeared a little late in the day for Raith Rovers to suddenly remember they were allowed to play well away from Kirkcaldy too, but Ayr’s sabbath capitulation put them in the box seat, thanks to this 3-0 win over Stranraer. It was Rovers finest performance since a 5-0 win over East Fife back in August, and from being three points behind with three to play, Rovers somehow find themselves one clear with 90 minutes left. Euan Murray was handy at both ends of the park, scoring the opener and clearing off the line at 2-0, and the converted left-back has enjoyed a good season all-in. Whether he’ll end it with a league winner’s medal has still to be decided.

5. Scott Pittman (Livingston)

St Mirren may have been the best by some margin in the second tier this term, but Livingston’s achievements are almost as meritorious. From League One fancy-dans to sealing second place in the Championship with two games to spare takes some doing, especially when some predicted they’d do well just to keep clear of the flotsam and jetsam at the fag-end of the table. On the other hand, every man and their Granny knew that Brechin would toil this season, although not to this extent, with their last league win coming almost a full calendar year ago – April 29th, 2017, to be exact. They dug in against Livingston, but the home side eventually made the breakthrough with a Scott Pittman goal before cantering to a 3-0 win, meaning they can now gird their loins for an impending playoff semi-final.

4. Craig Sibbald (Falkirk)

If momentum is everything going into a playoff brouhaha then Dumbarton are in big trouble. Not only did this 5-2 gubbing make it eight defeats in nine league games, they’re also haemorrhaging goals at an alarming rate, with 28 conceded across that horrendous spell, which amusingly, still featured a win over Dundee United. Falkirk fans will also be happy to see the back of this season, after their title aspirations evaporated approximately 30 minutes into the season, although they did manage to enjoy this mauling, albeit against a dilapidated Sons unit. Craig Sibbald wore the armband for the first time and he played a captain’s role as the Bairns swaggered to a one-sided victory.

3. David Goodwillie (Clyde)

Clyde goal machine David Goodwillie didn’t make the short-leet for the PFA Player of the Year award, which just goes to show that while Scottish footballers aren’t perfect, they still won’t cast a vote for a sex offender. The forward grabbed his 26th and 27th goals of the season on Saturday in this 3-1 win over Edinburgh City, and he may yet get a chance to add to that tally with Clyde looking to take advantage of any further Stenhousemuir slip-ups this weekend. Just four defeats in 15 sees the Bully Wee as one of the form teams since the turn of the year, and if they can sneak in to the top-four they’d arguably be the team to beat from the quartet.

2. Lewis Morgan (St. Mirren)

Saturday probably wasn’t the greatest of experiences for Morton fans. Not only did they have to visit the home of their local rivals who were having a title party, they also lost to the Buddies for the first time this season, slipping down to sixth in the process as their campaign, just like last season, dribbled away to irrelevance. This 2-1 win was a fine way for Lewis Morgan to bow out though, scoring the winner before trolling the away fans, which led to an amusing high level of seethe. The celebrations were almost marred by Paisley’s foremost fireworks expert setting up some rockets on a slope and inadvertently firing them towards the players heads. A scenario which, if it had been more serious, may have curtailed Tony Fitzpatrick’s prediction of St Mirren being World Club Cup winners by 2022.

1. Blair Henderson (Annan Athletic)

It’s been an odd season for Annan forward Blair Henderson. The former Stirling Albion and Berwick Rangers striker had amassed an entirely uninspiring one goal in his first 15 appearances this term, but he moved onto 14 for the season thanks to his second hat-trick of the campaign and against his former Bino side to boot. This match may have been a dead rubber for Annan, but Dave McKay’s side required a point to be sure of their spot in the playoffs. It’ll still require a curious spate of results to deny them that spot, but the fact they struggled so poorly doesn’t bode well for their chances.

 

Written by Shaughan McGuigan


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