Five best Scottish lower league players this week

There’s a place for the Rangers’ keeper, the scorer of a stunner at Stark’s Park, and the third highest goalscorer in the country.

John McGinn celebrates his belter at Raith Rovers this past weekend. Picture: SNS

1. John Baird (Falkirk)

There was nothing but praise for Steve Aitken’s squad building exercise over the summer, with the likes of Darren Barr, Jon Routledge and Steven Craig expected to lift Dumbarton to a new level. However, after 11 games they’re on the same amount of points as they had at the same stage last season, and more disconcertingly, have conceded the same amount of goals, a rather porous 21. Falkirk ran roughshod over the Sons on Saturday, with John Baird helping himself to three goals, all of which were exactly the same as each other, with the Dumbarton defence seemingly having no grasp of how the offside rule actually works. The trio of strikes means Baird has now scored 13 league goals for Falkirk since joining in January, although curiously, all of them have come away from the Falkirk Stadium. If he can start to produce that kind of goal-grabbing form at his home venue, then Falkirk would start to look a pretty reasonable shout for a top-four spot.

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2. John McGinn (Hibernian)

Call the Hibernian performance what you like - mixed-bag, game-of-two-halves, Jekyl-and-Hyde, guid-then-guff - there’s a feeling that this is the type of game that the Hibees may well have lost last season. From being a smite unfortunate to only being two-to-the-good against Raith at the interval, they ended up fairly fortunate to end up with the 2-1 victory, after a Rovers onslaught which lasted the majority of the second-45. There was a fair amount of rage amongst the Raith fans directed towards referee George Salmond, which was understandable considering Paul Hanlon escaped the concession of a penalty, despite seemingly swapping football for volleyball at one point, but in truth they only had themselves to blame after a timid opening to the match. John McGinn pinged in an exceptional goal to get things going after just four minutes, and the former St Mirren midfielder continues to prove himself an astute acquisition after another intelligent display. Next week’s match between Hibs and Rangers could be a rare old ding-dong indeed.

3. Wes Foderingham (Rangers)

There’s probably a few things that previous Rangers goalkeepers have done that Wes Foderingham won’t. For example, he probably won’t inexplicably crash into the back of his own net while taking the ball with him like Cammy Bell, or set up an online dating profile, using a picture of himself holding a pint like Steve Simonsen. And, with the greatest of respect to Mark Warburton, who may beg to differ, he probably won’t represent England like Chris Woods did in the 1980’s. What can’t be denied is that Foderingham has begun to show the type of agile, obdurate goalkeeping that persuaded Warburton to sign him in the first place. His three excellent saves in the match against St Mirren on Sunday helped drag Rangers over the line to a 1-0 win in what was at times a jumbled performance, especially in defence. A 12th consecutive win next weekend against Hibernian, and you’d struggle to see a scenario where the Easter Road side could possibly get back in the race.

4. Rory McAllister (Peterhead)

The excellence of Rory McAllister’s season-to-date has possibly been lost amongst the narrative of Peterhead’s utterly hum-drum season, but with 14 goals he’s only one behind Martyn Waghorn and Faissal El Bakhtaoui in terms of the nation’s top goal-scorers. Admittedly a large dollop of them came against Falkirk in one match, but still, it’s some going. He banged in another on Saturday, the opener in the Blue Toon’s 2-0 win over Airdrieonians, an excellent strike which saw him surrounded by nine Airdrie players, who were all helpless to stop him. The defeat for Airdrieonians means their rather blotchy season rumbled on, amidst reports that manager Gary Bollan was squaring up to a fan at the end of the match. Distressing stuff, or quite funny, depending on how you look at it.

5. Paul Woods (Queen’s Park)

Queen’s may have been the overwhelming favourites in their Scottish Cup tie against Stirling University, but beforehand it was a match which had the faint whiff of an upset around it with Stirling sitting pretty in the Lowland League, while Gus McPherson’s team were hamstrung by the absence of forward Chris Duggan through injury. However, while the students applied themselves well, they were ultimately undone by two superb goals from Paul Woods. His first on 25 minutes eased the tension, after he meandered through the penalty-area before drilling a low, left-foot shot home, while his second, an equally fine header ten minutes into the second-half, extinguished Stirling’s hopes of a shock.

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