Winners and losers in Scottish football this week

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BEFORE the excitement of the weekend’s football comes around once more, Craig Fowler and Craig Cairns of The Terrace Scottish Football Podcast look back over the past six days and select the winners and losers.

THE WINNERS

Jason Holt scores his goal against Dumbarton. Picture: Greg Macvean

Jason Holt scores his goal against Dumbarton. Picture: Greg Macvean

Anthony Andreu (Hamilton Academical)

Highlight: Scored opening two goals in Accies win over Aberdeen

There’s something quite wrong about singling out a Hamilton Accies player. They’re just such a great team. But if there is any player who could excel outside the tightly woven fabric of Hamilton’s squad then it’s probably the Frenchman. Against Aberdeen he epitomised Accies performance: harrying and pressing from the off, not allowing a good Aberdeen side to settle. And that’s where the two opening goals came from, not just from his strikes but from the team as a whole winning the ball in the opposition half. CC

Stefan Johansen (Celtic)

Highlight: Turned in a man of the match worthy performance in 5-0 rout over Ross County

Johansen was stationed further forward than we’ve been used to seeing this season, and he excelled in the new role.

He’s got such great energy and, at this level, he has enough technical qualities to be a threat in the final third. The return of Charlie Mulgrew was the key to Celtic’s gameplan with Ronny Deila using the utility man and Scott Brown as the holding players, allowing Johansen to dictate the game. His passing was phenomenal on Saturday. He then, of course, followed that up with a goal against Astra on Thursday night. It’ll be interesting to see what Deila does when Kris Commons returns from injury, particularly given the ongoing uncertainly of the former Scottish international’s contract situation. CF

Kris Boyd (Rangers)

Highlight: Finally got his first league goal of the campaign

The keeper definitely should have saved it but, regardless, Boyd is off the mark and this could lead to him firing on all cylinders once again. There was criticism of the partnership prior to Kenny Miller’s injury, but since he’s returned Rangers have gotten back to winning games comfortably. If they continue to net at least four goals every week then you’ve got to imagine Boyd’s name will start popping up with greater frequency. CC

Josh Magennis (Kilmarnock)

Highlight: Scored both goals in Kilmarnock’s 2-1 victory away at St Johnstone

Up until the weekend Magennis was proving his worth as a handful for most Premiership defences with his pace and strength, even if his touch and shooting were lacking. Now he’s added goals to his game. Not only that, the technique he showed to take the ball out the air and then connect with a spinning volley, not to mention his overhead kick, was unbelievable.

It just shows how much confidence can do for a player’s abilities on the park. This is the first time he’s been entrusted with the responsibility to lead the line every week despite the fact he’s been in Scottish football for four years. CC

Jason Holt (Hearts)

Highlight: Netted the third goal in Hearts 5-1 win over Dumbarton

A week ago it seemed like he couldn’t find a way into the line up at all - Robbie Neilson isn’t going to break-up his central midfield partnership and he is out of favour in the position behind the striker. He took to the field at half-time on Saturday due to a knock to Osman Sow, got his goal and performed well. Injuries to other players mean he could start in this weekend’s Edinburgh derby. While he’s never managed to hold down the No.10 role full-time, he’s still young and getting a goal could boost his confidence and enable him to try and be more of a playmaker as opposed to someone who looks to keep possession first and create second. CC

THE LOSERS

Darren Barr (Ross County)

Low point: Substituted 30 minutes into Ross County’s 5-0 defeat to Celtic

You know you’ve had a bad day when you get substituted after 30 minutes. It’s hard to know what to say. He was just all over the place. His positioning at the second goal is terrible. When the move starts it looks like he’s trying to close down Celtic’s centre backs. He’s got to be protecting the back four.

He has never convinced in a sustained run in central midfield. Defensive midfielders are not just good man-markers or tacklers, they at least need to be able to put their foot on the ball and recycle possession. Barr’s lack of technical ability means that he is forced, more often than not, into punting the ball upfield which was evident on Saturday. CF

Stephen McManus (Motherwell)

Low point: Hooked at half-time in his side’s 3-1 home defeat to Dundee.

You could include any member of that Motherwell back four against Dundee. They were absolutely woeful. The fact that McManus is captain, and therefore the main organiser of the back four, compounds the ineptitude of his performance.

He’s supposed to be a great lad, but unfortunately being affable doesn’t save him from his terrible form this year. Last season was a bit of struggle at times and he appears to have regressed even more. It certainly feels like a long time ago when he was a regular in the Scotland squad. CF

Ash Taylor (Aberdeen)

Low point: Had a nervy performance in Aberdeen’s 3-0 loss at Hamilton in front of the TV cameras

Continuing on the terrible defending theme: Aberdeen fans are scratching their heads as to why this summer signing remains constantly features in the starting XI. His decision-making for the first goal was inexcusable and there was another passage of play in the first half in which he completely misjudged the flight of the ball. Derek McInnes’s decision to switch Mark Reynolds and Andy Considine, with the former going to left back, was also pretty baffling. It made an already unsteady Taylor even more uncomfortable. CC

Kenny McLean (St Mirren)

Low point: Display in St Mirren’s 1-0 home defeat to ICT was the latest indifferent performance in a frustrating season.

He’s being punished by the lack of tactical acumen from Tommy Craig. The St Mirren boss has been playing McLean deeper in a sort of Charlie Mulgrew/quarterback role. McLean’s passing has never been great enough to pull that off, and it robs him of his physical abilities which make him a well rounded attacking playmaker. Besides, from midfield he’s the only consistent goal threat that St Mirren have.

His decision to stay at the club in the summer and play regularly every week was commendable, but it may actually be detrimental to his development. At present he’s a good player on a bad team. CF

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