Lowland League Preview – Matchday 12

We’ve another crucial weekend coming up with a huge game at the bottom and 2 cup replays

civil service strollers vs caledonian braves

By Craig Edwards

Fifth meets sixth on Saturday at Christie Gilles Park as Caledonian Braves head to the capital to face Civil Service Strollers.

Both sides have had strong starts to the season and will be aiming for three points to potentially move them into the top four.

Neither side were in Scottish Cup action last weekend but both featured in the South Challenge Cup the week previous with contrasting fortunes.

Braves won an eight goal thriller against Musselburgh Athletic while Civil were beaten late in extra time at home to Kelty Hearts.

The hosts will hope to avoid a third straight defeat in all competitions on Saturday while Caledonian Braves are aiming for a third straight win.

The home side came out on top both times last season and goals are surely guaranteed in Edinburgh on Saturday.

ones to watch

civil service strollers – cammy muirhead

caledonian braves – david winters

gretna 2008 vs vale of leithen

By Ronan Alexander

The huge game at the wrong end of the table takes place at Raydale Park on Saturday as bottom of the league Gretna 2008 welcome second bottom Vale of Leithen.

Chris Humphrey’s side’s last league match was another crucial encounter which ended all square against Edinburgh University. Since then, they defeated Newtongrange Star 2-1 in the Football Nation Qualifying Cup before last Saturday’s 3-1 reverse at East Kilbride in the Scottish Cup.

There appears to have been a gradual improvement at Raydale Park compared to the beginning of the season and they’ll be hoping that all important league victory comes tomorrow. The Anvils have also bolstered their squad recently with the addition of goalkeeper Aaron Taylor.

The Vale’s season has also turned a corner recently with them picking up four points in their last three games. Their last meeting was a 2-2 draw with Cumbernauld Colts a fortnight ago so Chris Anderson’s men will be kicking keen to get back into the action. They have been keeping fresh with friendlies against East of Scotland duo Ormiston and Preston Athletic.

ones to watch

gretna 2008 – ryan rogers

vale of leithen – brad rixon

Berwick Rangers vs Dalbeattie Star

By Liam Govey

Following a two-week break from Lowland League action, only Berwick have played a game since the last full set of Lowland League fixtures on 5th October, with Dalbeattie out of all respective cup competitions. Following poor starts to the season, both Berwick and Dalbeattie were knocked out of the South Challenge Cup by Tranent and Cumbernauld Colts respectively.

As a result, both sides had something of a reprieve prior to the return of the Scottish Cup last week, although Star had an extra week off having been knocked out at home to Gala Fairydean Rovers in the 1st Round (1-3). Berwick themselves faced a lengthy trip to Borough Briggs to face Elgin City last week but came away empty handed following a 3-1 loss.

It would be fair to say that Berwick have found it difficult to adjust to life in the Lowland League, with their last victory coming at East Peffermill – a 0-1 success at fellow strugglers Edinburgh University on 27th August. In fairness to Berwick, they have seen limited league action due to various postponements and cup commitments, but they will be keen to kickstart their season with a win at home to fellow strugglers Dalbeattie Star.

Dalbeattie themselves are improving after a slow start. Their last fixture saw a 3-0 victory at Forthbank against Stirling University. Prior to this, Star partook in the game of the season in Motherwell, drawing 5-5 with Caledonian Braves. They certainly know where the goal is, and also how to grind out a result when necessary, having seen off their struggling counterparts Gretna 2008 and Edinburgh University respectively.

With two of the league’s leakier defences in action at Shielfield this weekend, the game could well be a cracker. A win for either side would be huge.

Ones to Watch

Berwick Rangers – Yaw Osei

Dalbeattie Star – Lee Wells

the spartans vs east stirlingshire

By Damon Main

What impact last weekends Scottish Cup loss to Queen’s Park will have on Spartans game mentality is anyone’s guess going into this night kick off Scottish Lowland League fixture at Ainslie Park.

Certainly the manner of the defeat to the Spiders from Hampden Park will leave Dougie Samuel wondering just how he goes about shuffling his pack towards gaining what is a much needed three points.

Moreover, compounded with the previous week’s loss to Stirling University in the South Challenge Cup, manager Samuel may well see the challenge of ‘Shire as the best chance to pitch tricky danger man Nicky Reid in from the start as opposed to his usual substitute run out.

With East Stirlingshire sitting in 4th place in the table, the form of the Falkirk side has been good but the August defeats to East Kilbride and Bonnyrigg Rose have ultimately been telling in terms of the current league positioning.   Last week’s home defeat to Kelty Hearts might however be indicative of a side who will be a solid ‘top four’ club rather than championship title challengers.

The Friday points will likely be decided by the defence that holds tightest.  Spartans will be eager to put the bolt on a leaky back line that gifted simple goals to Queen’s Park while ‘Shire will almost certainly go into the game knowing its experienced players like Nicky Low and peter McDonald could be the difference come 10pm.

ones to watch

the spartans – aaron scott

east stirlingshire – bobby barr

east kilbride vs university of stirling

By Ronan Alexander

Kilby look to close the gap on the teams at the top when they welcome a free-scoring University of Stirling side to K Park on Saturday.

The hosts come into the match off the back of two consecutive cup victories after defeating Easthouses Lily 4-0 and then Gretna 2008 3-1 in the Scottish Cup last week when loanee Kieran McGrath notched a brace and 17-year-old Greg Stewart came on to make his first team debut. Also during the week, experienced goalkeeper Alan Martin has been made available to leave the club although Matt McGinley will certainly be a more than capable replacement.

The visitors come into the match winless in their last four league games including three consecutive defeats. They are a team that are capable of producing a big result and defeated Spartans away from home 3-2 a fortnight ago in cup action. They fell short on Wednesday in BUCS Premiership action lsing 1-0 to Nottingham University.

ones to watch

east kilbride – kieran mcgrath

university of stirling – jason jarvis

cumbernauld colts vs edinburgh university

By Ronan Alexander

Cumbernauld Colts will be aiming to climb back into the top half of the Lowland League table when they welcome 14th place Edinburgh University to Broadwood tomorrow.

The Colts are seven league matches without a victory but have won two cup matches during that period including a 1-0 victory over Jeanfield Swifts last time out. They’ve also been dealt with a blow as central midfielder Arnault Bembo has moved on to Kelty Hearts due to location issues after making 37 appearances for Craig McKinlay and James Orr’s side after joining from Kilbrirnie Ladeside at the beginning of last season.

Attacking midfielder Craig Holmes also picked up the Scottish Cup goal of the round trophy in their defeat to Penicuik last month with a rasping drive into the top left corner from 35 yards.

The students come into the game also on a poor run, having not won since 17th August after a narrow 1-0 triumph over Vale of Leithen. Although they did pick up a crucial point with Gretna 2008 in their last league outing but it could feel like 2 points dropped after conceding late on.

Their last outing was a thriller where they ended up on the wrong end of a 6-4 defeat to Dundonald Bluebell in the South Challenge Cup.

The match at Broadwood between these sides last season ended all square in a 1-1 draw.

ones to watch

cumbernauld colts – lewis bonar

edinburgh university – aidan kemp

scottish cup replays

gala fairydean rovers vs formartine united

By Martin Fleming

Gala Fairydean Rovers will host Highland League side Formartine United at Netherdale after Neil Hastings’ men held the Aberdeenshire side to a 2-2 draw up north last weekend.

Scott Taylor McKenzie and Jacob Campbell will be looking for add to their Scottish Cup goal tally after their goals helped secure this replay.

For the second year running, Gala could be facing last year’s Lowland League champions, East Kilbride. In last year’s campaign the Kilby men could only put a single goal past the Galashiels side at K-Park to secure a place in the fourth round. If Gala can put Formartine to bed at Netherdale, they could then look ahead to putting their East Kilbride cup demons away as well.

The Fairydean will also be on the lookout for Formartine’s Garry Wood and Daniel Park as both men were able to find the back of the net last weekend.

Ones to Watch

Gala Fairydean Rovers – Scott Taylor McKenzie

Formartine United – Daniel Park

bsc glasgow vs lochee united (sunday 3.30)

By Martin Fleming

It’s the junior side’s turn to travel this Sunday after Stephen Swift’s BSC Glasgow held Dundee side Lochee United to a 1-1 draw at Thomson Park last weekend.

Despite the home side grabbing a first half goal last week, BSC captain Ross McMillan grabbed a crucial header to at least force a replay at The Indodrill. With only one fixture in the East Region North Superleague, it would seem that Lochee would’ve had the weekend off, however BSC Glasgow will be forced to postpone their massive game with Kelty Hearts which would’ve took place at New Central Park this Saturday.

BSC Glasgow will hope to use the home advantage and secure that third round spot, which would see them up against League One’s East Fife. They’ll have to make do without their top scorer Thomas Orr after the forward received a red card last weekend but still have key strikers in Thomas Collins and Martin Grehan.

A second consecutive third round place will be high up on BSC’s wanted list and Stephen Swift will hope his men in yellow can do the job.

Ones to Watch

BSC Glasgow – Ryan Marshall

Lochee United – Grant Lawson