THE race to avoid relegation in the SPFL Premiership is grabbing plenty of attention, with five of the league’s bottom six clubs separated by only six points.
Could the unthinkable happen? Could both Edinburgh clubs be plying their trade in Scotland’s second tier next season?
Pole position in the Championship has changed hands, with Hamilton Accies taking top spot from Dundee on goals scored, and next Saturday’s meeting between the sides at New Douglas Park should be a cracker.
There’s plenty to play for in League 1 after Stranraer and Ayr United both failed to win, and Stenhousemuir emerged as a play-off threat. In League 2 Peterhead took a huge step forward as they won, and closest challengers Annan lost.
It was a good week for – Hearts
Hearts avoided the ‘Black Sabbath’ many had predicted at the hands of Hibs and they remain a Premiership club after their 2-0 Tynecastle success. Relegation could happen on Wednesday if Aberdeen beat Hearts - the only team they have not defeated in the league this season - but that thought can be saved for later.
This weekend was one for Hearts fans to savour, and the situation across the capital means the Gorgie faithful may well continue to enjoy the run-in even once the inevitable happens.
Bad week for – Hibs
A good goal disallowed, the missed chance to send their closest rivals into the Championship, and a third defeat in a row; it was a pretty miserable Mothering Sunday for the Easter Road men.
The 2-0 defeat from Hearts leaves Hibs top of the bottom six - however Kilmarnock, Ross County, Partick Thistle and St Mirren all took points from weekend away games to set nerves jangling.
Hibs will be hoping that this is their last week of ‘Bad week for...’ Award.
Team of the week – Celtic
The Celtic Park side wrapped up the title last Wednesday at Partick Thistle in style with a 5-1 success. It was a third League title in a row for Neil Lennon and his men, and whilst his resources dwarf other clubs in the Premiership the side still have to win games.
They have done so with remarkable consistency, picking up 27 victories and just four draws, and could still top one hundred league points on the season.
Manager of the week – Gary Naysmith (East Fife)
Naysmith engineered his side’s 2-1 comeback win away from home for the second game in a row, as the Fifers moved 7 points clear of League 1’s bottom side Arbroath.
The former Scotland player dragged his men in for extra training a fortnight ago and told them a few home truths after a 5-0 home defeat at the hands of Ayr. For an inexperienced manager it was a bold move and it has worked with wins at Dunfermline and Forfar.
He now has to show that he can get his men to play at a consistent level to avoid the relegation play-offs.
Premiership Player of the week – Craig Slater (Kilmarnock)
The 19 year old has been earning rave reviews all season for his role in the Killie engine room, and he took his game to a new level at the weekend. With Allan Johnston’s side drawing 1-1 at Motherwell, Slater scored a fine solo effort in the fifth minute of injury time.
Premiership Goal of the week – Paul Paton (Dundee United)
Paton showed at Pittodrie that using a little subtlety can work out better than a good old-fashioned blooter. With Aberdeen pinned back in their own penalty box, a cross was cleared out to the former Queen’s Park and Partick Thistle man 20 yards out from goal.
He opted for a gentle touch delivered with maximum precision, guiding the ball low past the outstretched arm of Jamie Langfield.
Championship Player of the week – Mark Beck (Falkirk)
On-loan Carlisle striker Beck not only scored the goal that defeated Dundee on Saturday, he scored the goal that gave Falkirk hope that they can still win the Championship.
The towering Beck headed the game’s only goal and was a general menace throughout, as you might expect from a man of his stature.
With Dundee and Hamilton playing next week the Bairns have the chance to be 4 points behind them both next weekend. A tall order, but they do have the perfect player for that.
Championship Goal of the week – Callum Booth (Raith Rovers)
The on-loan Hibs full back gave Raith Rovers the perfect pick-me-up ahead of next Sunday’s Ramsdens Cup Final with Rangers. Booth scored the only goal in the Kirkcaldy side’s 1-0 win over Alloa, curling home a free kick from 25 yards out to lift his side above their hosts in the Championship table.
League 1 Player of the week – Sean Higgins (Stenhousemuir)
Higgins saved his best play for the last few minutes of his side’s 3-2 win over Ayr United.
The hosts were set to move 10 points clear of the Warriors in the race for a play-off place, 2-1 ahead with just 3 minutes left.
Higgins, who netted the late penalty to earn his side a 3-3 draw at Ibrox in February, kept his cool to score from the spot again. Just for good measure the former Ross County and Dundee man then popped up with a winner to cut Ayr’s lead to four points.
League 1 Goal of the week – Jamie Longworth (Stranraer)
Striker Longworth put the Blues ahead against Airdrie at Stair Park when he clipped home a precise Mark Docherty cross with a finely placed volley. The PE teacher is now up to 22 goals for the season and Stranraer will be hoping he can score more fine goals and propel them to the play-offs.
League 2 Player of the week – Rory McAllister (Peterhead)
McAllister was at his maverick best against Queen’s Park as he indulged in a robust contest with Spiders’ defender Tony Quinn. The two of them basically battered into each other for an hour before McAllister, already denied what looked like a stonewall penalty, got in ahead of Quinn and was tripped.
He converted the spot-kick after his nemesis was dismissed and then scored a quick-fire second to move Peterhead closer to the title.
League 2 Goal of the week – Kieran MacDonald (Clyde)
Another winning free kick here, with MacDonald’s effort setting the Bully Wee on the road to a 4-2 success at East Stirling.
The former Motherwell youngster shot home from 25 yards after only six minutes and laid the foundations for Jim Duffy’s side to embed themselves further in third place.