It’s matchday 4 of the Lowland League season and we’ve got some crucial matchups at both the top and bottom of the division
BONNYRIGG ROSE vs EAST STIRLINGSHIRE
By Craig Edwards
The two early leaders do battle at New Dundas Park on Saturday as East Stirlingshire make the trip to face Bonnyrigg Rose.
Rose have made a bright start to life in the Scottish Lowland League with two wins and a draw in their opening three games to sit second in the table. Last weekend’s late equaliser by Kerr Young secured a draw at Civil Service Strollers and they were the first points dropped of the season.
Bonnyrigg have been impressive with 12 goals in their opening three games but it is East Stirlingshire who are the league’s top goalscorers with 14 thanks to a large part from Saturday’s victory over Gretna 2008.
The 9-1 victory over Gretna 2008 was the highest scoring game in the Lowland League for two years when Selkirk beat Hawick Royal Albert 10-0 and it laid down Shire’s title ambitions.
Bonnyrigg’s opening game of the season at New Dundas Park saw Rose hit Vale of Leithen for six while East Stirlingshire’s only away game saw them share the points with BSC Glasgow and Saturday’s game could be something special.
Ones to watch
BONNYRIGG ROSE: Kieran McGachie
EAST STIRLINGSHIRE: Mark Millar
Gretna 2008 vs Berwick Rangers
By Liam Govey
With both sides still pointless at this early stage of the season, something will have to give at Raydale Park on Saturday. Both sides have endured poor starts, with Berwick having played one less game than their hosts in the league so far. Following a disappointing Betfred Cup campaign in which the Northumberland side failed to register a single goal, conceding 21 goals in the process, Berwick have had trouble adjusting to their newfound Lowland League status.
The Borderers found their shooting boots in their home opener against fellow Lowland new boys Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic, but unfortunately so did Bonnyrigg, who ran out 5-3 victors. Berwick followed that up with a 2-1 home defeat to University of Stirling, before losing 2-1 in the Tunnocks Caramel Wafer Challenge Cup at home to Rangers Colts. They will be hoping for more luck in their first away trip as they head south west to Gretna.
Their hosts have endured just as torrid a start to the season, shipping 15 goals in just three games. The Anvils opened their season with a 3-0 defeat at home to Civil Service Strollers, before a midweek 3-2 defeat in Motherwell at the inaugural home game for newly named Caledonian Braves. As if things couldn’t get any worse, Gretna endured a 9-1 thrashing in Falkirk at the hands of East Stirlingshire.
With both sides still at the earlier stage of the season, there will be some hope that things will improve as the season progresses. A point or three in the first league fixture between these two sides will go some way toward kickstarting a campaign.
The two sides have met only once before in last season’s Scottish Cup 2nd Round tie at Shielfield Park, with Berwick emerging 3-1 victors in one of their few wins last season.
Ones to Watch
Gretna 2008 – Joe Jackson
Berwick Rangers – Grant Rose
Kelty Hearts v Civil Service Strollers
By Liam Govey
The Strollers make the short journey north of Edinburgh this weekend, with both they and Kelty looking to maintain their strong starts to the season. Though a mere five points separated the two sides in 3rd and 5th last season, Kelty enjoyed the better head-to-head record, winning both of their league games against the Strollers. Kelty grabbed a 1-0 away win at Christie Gillies Park back in April, having already dispatched of the Strollers 4-0 at Central Park in October last year.
Kelty sit just below the Strollers in 4th place, having played a game less than their opponents. They got off to the perfect start at New Central Park, with an 8-0 thrashing of Dalbeattie Star on the opening day. Their brilliant start continued at Alliance Park, with a 4-1 thrashing of Caledonian Braves. Maximum points and a 12-goal-haul from their opening games suggest that the Strollers are in for a difficult afternoon.
Nonetheless, the away side have also had an impressive start to the season, putting their poor late 2018/19 season form firmly behind them. The Edinburgh side began with a 3-0 win at Gretna on the opening day, before a midweek 1-0 win at home to University of Stirling. The Strollers then shared the spoils following a 1-1 draw with newly promoted Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic last Saturday.
The Fife side also took their impressive form into the Tunnocks Caramel Wafer Challenge Cup, brushing Kilmarnock Colts aside 4-0. Both sides have only conceded a goal each thus far, but the resoluteness of the Strollers’ defence will surely face its biggest test on Saturday.
Ones to Watch
Kelty Hearts – Nathan Austin
Civil Service Strollers – Andrew Mair
Gala Fairydean Rovers vs The Spartans
By Ronan Alexander
After back-to-back victories on their travels, Gala Fairydean Rovers welcome a Spartans side eager to climb the table at the 3G Arena on Saturday.
After an opening day defeat to Cumbernauld Colts, Neil Hastings men brushed aside Border rivals Vale of Leithen 5-1 before overcoming Dalbeattie Star 1-0 last weekend thanks to a Danny Galbraith penalty. Since then, Gala have added Hibs under 20’s attacking midfielder Yrik Galantes to their ranks.
When the two teams met in the Borders last season, it was Gala who ran out 3-1 winners after coming from behind to take all three points so Dougie Samuel’s men will be looking to make amends from that day.
The Spartans lost their opening game narrowly to BSC Glasgow before goals from Dean Hoskins and towering striker Cameron Dawson sealed victory against Edinburgh University at Ainslie Park.
The white and reds were also in action during the week but lost out 1-0 to Motherwell Colts in the Tunnocks Caramel Wafer Challenge Cup.
Spartans have only won one of their last six away league matches after struggling on their travels during the second half of last season so they will need to resurrect that form to get in with the pack chasing the title.
Ones to watch
Gala Fairydean Rovers – Yrik Galantes
The Spartans – Scott Maxwell
Edinburgh University vs Vale of Leithen
By Euan Fairley
Edinburgh University will be hoping to improve on a disappointing start to the season in which they have shipped 12 goals without reply. After successive 6-0, 4-0 and 2-0 defeats they are heading in the right direction defensively but will also be hoping to break their duck in front of goal. They welcome another struggling side in Vale of Leithen and will take heart from the fact that they are undefeated against the Victoria Park men since July 2017.
Vale arrive at East Peffermill on the back of heavy defeats to Bonnyrigg, East Kilbride and their Borders rivals Gala. With a goal difference one worse off than the Edinburgh side they face the same issues of defensive frailty, combined with a lack of goals – something they will need to believe they can change this weekend.
A win could see either side jump up to 4 places in what could turn out to be an early six-pointer. With weather conditions looking challenging this could add to what is already an intriguing game featuring two sides looking to get their season on track.
ONES TO WATCH
Edinburgh Uni – Finn Daniels-Yoeman
Vale of Leithen – Ally Smith
BSC Glasgow vs Dalbeattie Star
By Martin Fleming
Dalbeattie Star make the long journey to Alloa this Saturday to face one of the few teams they managed to beat last season, with BSC sure to do anything they can to ensure another upset is not on the cards.
The home side come into this weekend fixture eager to put two disappointing results behind them; a 2-1 loss to Cumbernauld Colts last Friday night in the league and a 4-0 defeat to Hamilton Accies Colts in their first ever Challenge Cup tie. In fairness, the opening fixtures didn’t work in their favour as they had 3 league matches in the first 7 days. Stephen Swift’s men will hope the bad fortune is an extremely short one and that a win over Dalbeattie should be simpler than last season.
Meanwhile, Star will be desperate to grab their first point of the campaign after suffering three losses in their opening three games. Last weekend, it was Gala Fairydean Rovers who managed a solitary goal over the Islecroft squad to take the three points. Even a draw could see them slip out the bottom four.
Ones to Watch
BSC Glasgow – Jamie Hamilton
Dalbeattie Star – Dean Brotherston
Stirling Uni vs Cumbernauld Colts
By Martin Fleming
Both these sides will look to continue a decent start to their Lowland League seasons with both teams coming off impressive victories.
Chris Geddes’ side saw a 2-1 victory over league newcomers Berwick Rangers after converting a penalty in the dying embers of the game, while Colts also grabbed a last minute winner thanks to Marty Wright to secure a 2-1 upset over BSC Glasgow last Friday night allowing the Broadwood side to celebrate 2 wins in their first 2 games.
Three points for either side could be massive – if Colts can secure another victory, it could see them go straight into the top four and a win for the Uni side would see them finish this week comfortably in the top half of the table.
Ones to Watch
Stirling Uni – Craig Brown
Cumbernauld Colts – Marty Wright
East Kilbride vs Caledonian Braves
By Ben McNicol
This weekend East Kilbride welcome Caledonian Braves to K Park for Kilby’s first home game of the league campaign.
Stuart Malcolm’s men are in good nick so far this season, winning both their league games so far against away to Dalbeattie Star and Vale Of Leithen and are yet to concede a goal.
They will be hoping to bounce back from was a disappointing result on Tuesday night, where they were knocked out of the newly named Tunnocks Caramel Wafer Cup by St Mirren Colts, giving that they managed to hold their first team to a draw just three weeks ago.
Although Kilby will be favourites, Ricky Waddell’s men will be no pushover. The newly named Caledonian Braves won their opening two league games in convincing fashion, beating Edinburgh Univeristy 6-0 before coming back from 2-1 down to beat Gretna 2008 3-2, despite playing with ten men for 86 minutes after Dom Slattery was sent off.
Last weekend they were handed their biggest challenge yet, when they faced Kelty Hearts at Alliance Park and were defeated 4-1 by Barry Ferguson’s men, but in all honesty, it isn’t results against The Hearts that will decide The Braves season.