Five best Scottish lower league players this week

Gedion Zelalem in action for Rangers against Alloa. Picture: SNS

Gedion Zelalem in action for Rangers against Alloa. Picture: SNS

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THERE’S a place in this week’s top five for an on loan EPL player, a hat-trick hero, and the man who’s single-handedly turning a team’s season around.

1. James Keatings (Hibernian)

Judging by St. Mirren’s latest pummelling, we can probably safely deduce that the recent removal of assistant manager Mark Spalding may not have fixed all the Paisley club’s ailments. That’s a surprise.

Admittedly they did have the excuse of being pummelled by a damned fine side in Hibernian, and whilst many within Hibs’ neon purple-hued ranks staked a claim at being the man-of-the-match, James Keatings hat-trick ensures he took the honour.

His second was certainly the sweetest, letting rip from just outside the area after he took advantage of a bad mistake from Jim Goodwin, who promptly slumped to his knees in despair, like a particularly nasty heel finally getting his comeuppance at the end of some tin-pot action movie.

It’s now 13 games unbeaten for Stubbs’ Slicksters, and with a reasonably decent looking fixture list coming up there’s every chance the sequence will continue.

2. Scott Martin (Forfar Athletic)

Things are looking fairly bleak for Dick Campbell’s Loons.

After negotiating the opening month of the season unbeaten, ending August proudly top of the League One pile, they’ve only won once since, with Saturday’s latest 3-2 reverse to Airdrieonians making it just one win in ten.

If there can be any positives to take from a result which now sees them just four points ahead of tenth placed Brechin, then it was the form of Scott Martin, who recently signed on the dotted line on loan from Hibernian.

His two goals threatened to drag Forfar back into the game after they went 3-0 down, but as good as he is, he’s no Jason Scotland, and there would be no repeat of a back-from-the-dead type comeback a la Stenhousemuir against Peterhead the previous week. However, if the 18-year-old can retain his goal-scoring form, he may be able to help arrest Forfar’s funk.

3. Jason Scotland (Stenhousemuir)

New Stranraer forward Luciano Nesquecaur may have played a handful of matches in the Argentinian top-flight, but he was comprehensively bossed by Stenny defender Stuart Malcolm on Saturday.

Perhaps Malcolm should be asking his agent to look into a potential deal with River Plate or Roasario Central come the end of this term.

No, even though this match was set up as the introduction to the Blues Batistuta, it was Jason Scotland who once again took centre stage, with a goal and an assist, as the Warriors saw out a reasonably comfortable 2-1 win.

His thumping finish on 56 minutes ensured there was no-way back for Brian Reid’s under-performing team, who are unfortunately starting to resemble a relegation afflicted side. Stenny though, inspired by Scotland, are very much on the up.

4. Isaac Layne (Brechin City)

Isaac Layne is some boy. Fresh from his on-point debut performance last weekend against Forfar, he grabbed a goal on his home bow this time around, as bottom-of-the-table Brechin snatched a point from league leaders Ayr. His excellent outside-of-the-foot finish was enough to reel in Ian McCall’s Marauders who had taken a lead through Jamie Adams.

Layne’s mention isn’t just down to his goal, however, as he put in the type of performance which opposing defenders hate to play against. Direct, pacy and skilful, he can look ungainly and clumsy in possession, never quite looking in-control of the football, but still comfortable enough to beat a man with a wonderful insouciance.

The Honest Men may have been deprived of the opportunity to go further clear of the Dunfermline, but it wasn’t all bad for the travelling Ayr fans. At least they got to berate Jonathon Tiffoney for the 66 minutes he was on the pitch.

5. Gedion Zelalem (Rangers)

By his own high standards, Gedion Zelalem hasn’t been in the best of form of late, plodding along ineffectively against St. Mirren and Hibernian in successive weeks. However, he looked more like his old self on Saturday against the jobbers of Alloa, who failed to muster up too much resistance as Rangers sauntered and swaggered to a comfortable 4-0 win.

Although he didn’t get on the scoresheet, he was involved in the opener, haranguing notorious flapper-merchant Andy McNeil into a poor clearance, which Martyn Waghorn blootered straight into the net from distance.

Zelalem may struggle against the bigger sides in the league, but there’s little doubt he’s an effective weapon against the jetsam and flotsam.

Follow Shaughan on Twitter @ShaughanM.

Read the full article over at the Terrace Podcast website.

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