We’re back after a week of cup action and we’ve got seven fixtures coming your way
EAST STIRLINGSHIRE v EAST KILBRIDE
By Craig Edwards
Two of the title favourites meet at the Falkirk Stadium as East Stirlingshire welcome East Kilbride with both sides having stuttered out of the blocks.
Both Shire and Kilby lost their last league match two weeks ago and will look to get back on the right track this weekend.
Shire haven’t played since their 3-1 defeat at New Dundas Park to Bonnyrigg Rose and sit in sixth place, six points adrift of Rose but with a game in hand.
Derek Ure added more steel to his side as defensive midfielder Steven Bain joined the squad after impressing as a trialist.
East Kilbride had pre-season distractions in the Betfred Cup but had started the season with two league wins from two before a surprise home defeat to Caledonian Braves. They bounced back last week with victory over Easthouses Lily in the Football Nation Qualifying Cup.
East Kilbride completed the double over their opponents last season with two 2-0 victories and Shire will see this as a test of their title credentials.
Ones to watch
EAST STIRLINGSHIRE – JORDAN TAPPING
EAST KILBRIDE – ALAN MARTIN
Cumbernauld Colts v Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic
By Liam Govey
The Lowland League’s two remaining unbeaten sides go toe-to-toe on Friday night in Cumbernauld. The Colts have enjoyed an excellent start, winning three of their opening four games. They began the season with a comprehensive 3-0 win at Gala, before a Marty Wright injury time winner at home to BSC Glasgow saw them maintain the perfect start with a 2-1 win.
That perfect start went out the window in a dramatic afternoon in Stirling, as two late goals from University of Stirling secured a point apiece in a thrilling 4-4 draw. This was despite the Colts having come from two-goals down to lead the game 4-2!
The late drama continued for another week, as the Colts secured a huge 2-1 win in injury time against fellow unbeaten side Kelty Hearts at Broadwood. Now only Bonnyrigg and Cumbernauld can boast a zero in the loss column of the Lowland League standings.
Table-toppers Bonnyrigg will be keen to turn that zero into a one for Cumbernauld, having had an equally impressive start to the season. The Lowland League new boys began with an emphatic 6-0 win over Vale of Leithen on the opening day, before a thrilling 5-3 win away at Berwick Rangers. The perfect start was halted in Edinburgh following a 1-1 draw with Civil Service Strollers, but a 3-1 win at home to East Stirlingshire followed soon after. Saturday’s 3-0 win over Dalbeattie Star ensured a strong start to life in the Lowland League for the Rose.
The two sides are yet to meet in any previous encounter, but Friday night’s first meeting between the two promises plenty.
Ones to Watch
Cumbernauld Colts – Marty Wright
Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic – Lee Currie
DALBEATTIE STAR VS EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY
By Ronan Alexander
It’s a crucial early season six pointer at the wrong end of the table as Dalbeattie Star welcome Edinburgh University to Islecroft tomorrow.
Dalbeattie are still searching for their first points of the campaign having lost all five of their opening games and are yet to hit the back of the net so will be looking towards their attacking threats of Lewis Sloan, Dean Brotherston, Steven Degnan and Declan Tremble to get them up and running.
Dorian Ogunro’s side will be keen to continue their good run having defeated Vale of Leithen twice in a fortnight in league and cup competitions. The men from the capital won 3-1 in league action two weeks ago before a late David Maskrey strike gave them victory last weekend in the Football Nation Cup.
The spoils were shared last season between the two clubs, with the away side coming out on top on both occasions. Dalbeattie won 1-0 in the capital, but Edinburgh Uni came out 3-2 winners in Kirkcudbrightshire.
Ones to watch
Dalbeattie Star – Calvin Cowie
Edinburgh University – Aidan Kemp
CALEDONIAN BRAVES VS UNIVERSITY OF STIRLING
By Lewis Fraser
Caledonian Braves will look to continue their positive start to the season this Saturday as they welcome University of Stirling to Alliance Park.
Despite coming off the back of a 6-1 defeat, Braves will still be buoyed after beating last year’s champions East Kilbride the week before. The Uni defence will have to be on form, as Braves have scored in all five of their league fixtures so far this season. In particular, striker Ross McNeil, who already has five goals to his name this season, will look to continue his prolific form for the home side. Braves manager Ricky Waddell insists that there is determination to bounce back from last week’s defeat and not to repeat the performance, after they conceded six against BSC Glasgow.
Meanwhile, Chris Geddes’ side have enjoyed a decent run of form to start the season, despite only playing three league games so far. In their last outing, the student side were in Nation Cup action and manged to progress after beating a strong Blackburn United side 2-1. Geddes will be happy with the way his new look squad is coming together, after losing some key players to the higher ranks at the end of last season. Former Falkirk midfielder, Jason Jarvis, has impressed in his first few games, netting two league goals and playing a key role in the Uni’s attacking moves. Leading the defensive line on Saturday will be captain Angus Mailer, who brings experience to a young side. Uni are unbeaten in their last three outings and will look to build on that run with a win on Saturday.
Although Braves will go into the fixture as favourites, they will need to be on good form to see past the Stirling side. Waddell will be conscious that the last two times the teams met, Stirling were victorious, scoring four goals in each game against the Glasgow based side. Whoever comes out on top though, the match promises to be high entertainment, as neither team has been involved in a goalless draw this season.
Ones to watch
Caledonian Braves – Ross McNeil
University of Stirling – Jason Jarvis
SPARTANS VS GRETNA 2008
By Damon Main
The Spartans now hold the unenviable record of being the first side to lose to Berwick Rangers since March when the former SPFL club defeated Peterhead. Following last Saturday’s 0-2 reverse at Shielfield Park in the Football Nation Qualifying Cup, Dougie Samuel’s team will be desperate to get back to winning ways when they welcome Gretna 2008 to North Edinburgh.
That loss to Berwick of course has another sense of significance for the Ainslie Park club. As holders of the Qualifying Cup they lost grip of a trophy they won only a short time ago. The defeat coming to a somewhat unfortunate sudden end thanks in no small part to injury absence and player unavailability.
History making teenage striker Nicky Reid will again hope to feature following his goalscoring exploits against Gala although the experienced Dean Hoskins is likely to miss out following his late Red Card at Shielfield.
Spartans today added Hearts youngster Leeroy Makovora to their squad on loan, as cover for Jack Smith who has recently suffered a recurring hamstring injury.
Unlike The Spartans Gretna did win through to the 2nd round of the Qualifying Cup thanks to a 3-2 win over Sauchie at Raydale but that should not hide the poor form of the club in the Lowland Leaague.
That win over Sauchie last week aside the eye opening 1-9 loss to East Stirlingshire is still likely be in the heads of Gretna with the club also conceeding 3 goals to both the Caledonian Braves and Civil Service Strollers.
Gretna 2008 are likely to look to Ryan Rogers for goals again following his brace against Sauchie in the cup although its at the back where clearly the Raydale club need to tighten up if they are to leave Ainslie Park with anything.
Ones to watch
Spartans – Nicky Reid
Gretna 2008 – Ryan Rogers
CIVIL SERVICE STROLLERS VS GALA FAIRYDEAN ROVERS
By Euan Fairley
It’s a battle of two mid-table teams at Christie Gillies Park on Saturday as Strollers welcome Gala. Strollers will be in confident mood after a 6-0 thumping of Dunipace in the Football Nation Cup, coming off the back of a 5-0 defeat to Kelty, which had threatened to derail a strong start to the season.
Gala arrive in Edinburgh on the wrong side of their own 6-0 result after a heavy defeat to Tranent. Crucially, they have taken their chances when playing the league’s so-called weaker teams by beating Vale of Leithen 5-1 and Dalbeattie 1-0, which has steered them clear of any early relegation concerns.
With only a point separating the sides in the table it should be a close encounter featuring some exciting young talents, such as Hibs youngsters Callum Yeats, Dino Leddie, Jack Hodge and Yrik Galantes.
ONES TO WATCH
Civil Service Strollers – Callum Yeats
Gala Fairydean Rovers – Danny Galbraith
vale of leithen vs kelty hearts
By Ronan Alexander
Chris Anderson’s Vale of Leithen will be determined to upset the odds to get their season up and running with a positive outcome against a Kelty Hearts side tipped for big things this campaign.
Vale are yet to register their first points of the season having lost their opening four fixtures. They were also on the end of a disappointing 0-1 reverse to Edinburgh University in the Football Nation Qualifying Cup last Staurday. However, they will be encouraged by the fact they pushed Kelty all the way last season to secure a point in a goalless draw at New Central Park. Also, recent loan signing Josh Wishart scored the winning goal for Spartans against Kelty in last season’s Lowland League Cup.
Kelty also endured defeat last weekend when a late goal gave Cumbernauld Colts a 2-1 triumph meaning Barry Ferguson’s men will be keen to get back to winning ways. They are currently four points behind leaders Bonnyrigg Rose with a game in hand.
Nathan Austin suffered a scare a fortnight ago when he went off injured against Civil Service Strollers but the league’s top goalscorer returned to action at Broadwood last Saturday and popped up with Kelty’s only goal that was unfortunately in a losing cause. 17-year-old Thomas Bragg also made his debut for Kelty last week as he joined on loan from Dunfermline Athletic.