THE best and worst from Scottish football’s weekend.
1) Dundee will obviously be delighted with a point, but watching them spurn chance after chance against Celtic was frustrating in the extreme. That’s because I know exactly what it’s like to be the fan of a non-Old Firm club watching my side play very well against one of the Glasgow giants, but the elusive winning goal just won’t cross the line. (Personally, I end up wishing it so much that I convince myself my own desires are being counterproductive.) Dundee supporters - who would’ve bitten your hand off for a draw before the game, would have been in the pub afterwards thinking ‘damn, we should have beaten them’, because opportunities to defeat Celtic don’t come around very often.
A particular aspect of their play the hosts will be encouraged by was the impact of Phil Roberts on the right wing. More than a few eyebrows were raised when the former Falkirk attacker was Paul Hartley’s first signing for the club’s Scottish Premiership assault. After all, he’d infuriate Falkirk fans throughout last season before being sacked for a temper tantrum thrown outside the Alloa Athletic tunnel after receiving his third red card of the campaign. However, there’s no doubt the former Arsenal player has top flight ability, along with blistering pace, and he would have doubled the hosts advantage were it not for a superb save from Craig Gordon.
2) When I first saw the goals from Ibrox on Saturday I was convinced that Sky had accidentally shown the same Queen of the South goal twice. In my defence I was watching it on a pub TV screen, which was about 15 yards away, with no sound, and my vision was slightly blurred by just finishing the third of my, eventual, six pints, but you have to agree that they are ridiculously similar. That’s because Queens have a player called Gavin Reilly - he scored the first and made the second - who possesses terrific pace. When playing such an attacker it’s not usually a good idea to have your defence pushed right up to the halfway line. It’s also not a terrifically brilliant idea to see your team exploited by this player once, but do absolutely nothing to change your tactics until after it happens again. On Friday, Ally McCoist demanded of the media that they only concentrate on football matters. He should follow his own advice and study these unfancied opponents a little more intently.
On a positive note, this is some strike from David Templeton. The equaliser, a couple of minutes into the second half, was the turning point in the contest. Had he not produced such a piece of magic at this crucial juncture, Rangers may have lost this game.
3) I was at Fir Park on Saturday and, I have to say, that the 85 minutes of tedium I suffered through was worth it when Brian Graham stole a yard on his marker and headed in the winning goal just ten minutes into his St Johnstone career. It was one of those moments that made me realise just how much I love this game. The rest of the match was such a none event that its very existence seemed trivial, and then suddenly the whole outlook changed. Suddenly there was a narrative with a hero sending several hundred travelling fans into delirium so soon after the two entities had been introduced to one another. It put a smile on my face without me having a vested interest in either club, or even the outcome of the match prior to kick-off.
4) An excellent first goal in senior football for United youngster Blair Spittal. The 18-year old was by far the best thing about a dreadful Queen’s Park team last season and it’s a good start on the road to following in the footsteps of former Spiders’ club mate Andy Robertson.
As well as United have started, the big story from this game was another defeat and another game without scoring a goal for St Mirren. The only positive for the Buddies right now is that they’ve played a match less than a two-thirds of the league. And as bad as St Mirren have looked, Ross County might actually be worse.
5) Neil Doncaster did the Ice Bucket Challenge last week. Whether you’ve done it or not, you’ll know from the endless clips of people you barely like clogging up your Facebook timeline that you’re supposed to wait until everyone else has finished before pouring the feet-soaking basin over your own head. Doncaster, somehow, gets it wrong.
Time to hand out some weekly awards...
The Fabian Caballero award for goal of the week goes to the unknown Iain Flannigan. He was the Alloa player who scored the winning goal against Hibs at the weekend. It’s taken from a camera phone, but we can still appreciate the quality of his rocket-like free-kick.
The James Collins award for worst miss was a tough selection. Without there being too many candidates I’ll go for Niall McGinn. The Aberdeen striker just doesn’t get his feet sorted in time to convert this simple chance. However, it would be entirely unjust not to mention the terrific goal he produced later in the match.
The Ludovic Roy award for best save has already been mentioned (it’s Craig Gordon), though this stunning denial from Kyle Letheren in the same match must also be highlighted.