Rangers 'best' in the league, Celtic ace rediscovering his €15m form, Hibs fans rejoice, Aberdeen's talisman, Livingston and St Mirren worries, kamikaze defending at Tynecastle - Scottish Premiership winners and losers

A look back at the Scottish Premiership action from the weekend.
Joe Aribo put Rangers ahead at Livingston. Picture: SNSJoe Aribo put Rangers ahead at Livingston. Picture: SNS
Joe Aribo put Rangers ahead at Livingston. Picture: SNS



Fresh after seeing off Porto at a packed Ibrox on Thursday, Steven Gerrard took his side to the Tony Macaroni Arena. What they delivered was a professional performance to win 2-0 and sterilise a side which many would have predicted to cause Rangers a few problems, having done so a couple of times this campaign.

Florian Kamberi and Christian Doidge linked up brilliantly. Picture: SNSFlorian Kamberi and Christian Doidge linked up brilliantly. Picture: SNS
Florian Kamberi and Christian Doidge linked up brilliantly. Picture: SNS

The most impressive aspect of the game was how they neutered Livi's usual up-and-at-em style. It was best shown in the duel between Lyndon Dykes and the Rangers centre-back pairing, Connor Goldson and Filip Helander. The former was in the press after the win over Hearts in the Betfred Cup semi-final bemoaning some of the physical play from strikers which goes unpunished. In Lyndon Dykes, a player Gerrard praised, Livi have an aggressive focal point. Yet Goldson especially kept him quiet throughout.

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Livi boss Gary Holt, reflecting on the game said it “felt like a massive pitch and we had a man less”. His midfielder Marvin Bartley claimed Rangers were the best side they have faced at home this season.

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Steven Gerrard continues war of words with Livingston boss Gary Holt

'Two strikers!'

Lewis Ferguson was excellent for Aberdeen in their win over Ross County. Picture: SNSLewis Ferguson was excellent for Aberdeen in their win over Ross County. Picture: SNS
Lewis Ferguson was excellent for Aberdeen in their win over Ross County. Picture: SNS

That was the reaction from Hibs fans when they saw interim head coach Eddie May's line-up for the game at St Johnstone. He had done what fans were calling out for - pairing Christian Doidge with Florian Kamberi. And, boy, did it pay dividends.

Doidge will get the headlines for his hat-trick. He went from just about scoring the first, clearly a finisher lacking confidence, to powering in a header for his third.

But it was strike partner Kamberi who truly shone. He was everywhere, bullying Wallace Duffy and Jason Kerr, tormenting Scott Tanser, working his a**e off for the team.

Olivier Ntcham

After his exploits in a raucous Rome on Thursday evening, the Frenchman was handed a starting place at a more sedate Celtic Park against Motherwell. It was a display all connected with the league leaders would have been content with. Three points, clean sheet, solid performance, especially coming after such a high a few days previous.

Ntcham stood out for passing, his creativity, his general quality. The winning goal against Lazio was one way to really get the support back on his side after he was quoted in the summer of wanting a move. He highlights some of the depth and quality within the Celtic squad. Vision, poise, technique, balance, shooting prowess. On his day there are few, if any, better in Scotland.

Hearts fans

They got to see Steven Naismith back in the team from the start. Few would have forgotten about his influence over the team, but for those who did, they witnessed a player a level above against St Mirren. His quick thinking to get away from his marker saw him open the scoring. In the second half he set up Jake Mulraney for the final goal in the 5-2 win.

On top of that, there was the talking to team-mates, annoying opponents, telling the referee what to do and general hard work. Standards have just got higher at Hearts.

Lewis Ferguson

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There were some who queried whether Aberdeen were better without Lewis Ferguson following the side's impressive 3-0 win over Motherwell a few weeks back. Personally, I couldn't see the argument, and in the last week he will have surely silenced any doubters. He was excellent in the win at Ross County. He was the 'sitter' in a midfield three which also included the athleticism of Greg Leigh and experienced of Craig Bryson.

He may have been lucky to have not been booked before he did yet a yellow card but he brings a necessary tenacity to the middle of the pitch for the Dons. But more importantly was his quality on the ball, a number of times he hit booming passes to his right which got Aberdeen on the front foot and into dangerous positions.

Accies goals

Two of the best goals of the weekend came from the left feet of two Hamilton players. First Mickel Miller arrowed a shot right into the far corner before Steve Davies' snapshot from the edge of the box zipped past Laurentiu Branescu.

The Kilmarnock goalkeeper has been questioned but such was the ferocity of the first effort and the surprise of the second that not many goalkeepers would have been able to keep them out. It is a lesson in hitting the ball at pace.


St Johnstone

In 12 league games this campaign, St Johnstone have conceded the first goal on 11 occasions. There is not a lot else to say about the issues Saints have. Once again their defence displayed their powderpuff nature. For the first goal against Hibs, Jason Kerr crumbled under minimum pressure from Florian Kamberi, while Wallace Duffy was bullied throughout. In addition, they are making a habit if conceding goals from low crosses or cut backs. They are in desperate need of experienced defensive reinforcements.


The defending wasn't much better at Tynecastle - by both teams. It may be the lowest quality seven-goal thriller football has produced, especially the first half where the ball just seemed to cannon around the midfield area.

Both St Mirren and Hearts have found goals hard to come by but defences were posted missing on Saturday. Players out of position, slow to react, balls hitting defenders off the coupon and going in, runners not being tracked from midfield and, the most egregious of all, defenders opting against heading simple long balls.

It was fun though.


Just a word on the Buddies. Jim Goodwin must have serious concerns at the moment. They clearly set up to attack a fragile Hearts side but it opened vulnerabilities at the other end. Going into the match they had the third-best defensive record in the league. Now they don't.

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It seemed to be their saving grace which kept them competitive, even if they did show more attacking edge at Tynecastle. St Mirren will likely be busy on the January transfer window but of Goodwin can try and find a balance until then it will be crucial in staying within touching distance of those above them.

Shay Logan and Paul McGinn

The full-backs were on the receiving end of a cross into the area which makes every man in the crowd wince. Good defending from both to stop crosses but both would likely have preferred taking the risk and letting the ball go into the area than get hit in the region which sees you buckle and brings tears to your eye.

Kilmarnock and Hamilton

Both would have walked off Rugby Park on Saturday frustrated with their afternoon's effort. Accies allowed a two-goal lead to slip, while Killie will have been frustrated that they didn't win. They had a man advantage for over an hour, scored either side of half-time to level the game but then failed to build on it.

Owain Fon Williams

Which brings us to Owain Fon Williams. The Welsh international and sometime painter arrived in the summer from Inverness CT after a brief spell in the USA with Indy Eleven. He had played nearly 70 top flight games in Scotland but even still it was hard to see him as an upgrade on Gary Woods who left in the summer, even if the departed goalkeeper had a difficult campaign last term.

Fon Williams, a Euro 2016 semi-finalist, had his erratic moments while at the Highlanders and one of those moments arrived on Saturday to allow Killie back into the game.

Mohamed El Makrini fired in a low shot which is usually bread and butter for goalkeepers but Fon Williams allowed it to squirm under his body. The last thing Accies need is an inconsistent goalkeeper.

Livi... and neutrals

Sunday afternoon saw Rangers travel to Livingston on TV. Last season Livi beat Steven Gerrard's men and they have already defeated Celtic this campaign in West Lothian. There was an expectation and hope that they would make it extremely competitive and uncomfortable for the visitors.

That wasn't the case. They barely laid a glove on the Ibrox side. There was a moment in the second half where they tried their usual pressing of the opposition backline but Rangers calmly played out and around the Livi press, the players just seemed to deflate recognising the game was up.

More worryingly, it is now just one win in ten games for Gary Holt's men.