Lowland League Preview – Matchday 16

After a fortnight of cup action we’re back with a full set of league fixtures tomorrow.

Kelty Hearts vs East Kilbride

By Craig Edwards

It’s the league leaders against the defending champions at New Central Park this weekend as East Kilbride travel east to face Kelty Hearts.

The hosts have been in terrific form with only one defeat all season, coming away at Cumbernauld Colts and hold a two point lead at the top of the Lowland League.

The league’s top scorers have scored 18 in their past four home matches, however, East Kilbride have not conceded since their defeat to Kelty last month.

Kilby have struggled this season and currently sit in ninth place and sixteen points adrift of the top of the table but have won their last four matches including booking a spot in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup.

A Nathan Austin first half strike separated the sides earlier this season as Kelty took all three points from K Park and another victory would be a major statement and surely end any slim title chance for East Kilbride.

Ones to watch

Kelty Hearts – Nathan Austin

East Kilbride – Ruari Paton

dalbeattie star vs bsc glasgow

By Martin Fleming

Stephen Swift’s men travel to Islecroft to take on Ritchie Maxwell’s Dalbeattie Star and the home side are still desperate to climb up the bottom four.

Star have had an extra week of rest after their Southern Counties Cup tie against Mid Annandale was postponed due to the weather. Their last league outings have been dire to say the least, suffering a 3-0 defeat to Civil Service Strollers and a 4-1 defeat to Cumbernauld Colts. Sitting on only ten points, they are four points clear of the bottom three and any point potentially gained could help them finally climb out the bottom four.

BSC on the other hand need any available points to take the fight into the top three. Currently sitting 4th only four points behind league leaders Kelty Hearts and on a hot streak, they go to Dalbeattie as the heavy favourites. Last weekend, they secured an important 1-0 victory at Shielfield Park. A solitary penalty decided the game against Berwick Rangers. While their heads will still be rattled from the Scottish Cup, they won’t take Dalbeattie Star lightly, despite winning 5-0 at home against them in August.

Ones to Watch

Dalbeattie Star – Dean Brotherston

BSC Glasgow – Jamie Mills

Caledonian Braves vs Edinburgh University

By Craig Edwards

Edinburgh University make their first trip to Alliance Park as they meet Caledonian Braves in desperate need of the points to move away from the bottom of the table.

The University side sit one place, and one point above the foot of the table and have not tasted victory since August and have lost their last four in all competitions.

Conceding goals has been an issue and they haven’t kept a clean sheet in almost four months but do know the way to goal having averaged two goals a game in their last four.

Caledonian Braves will hope to secure a first league win in two months but have won in cup competitions beating Musselburgh Athletic and Bonnyton Thistle twice in that time.

Braves have been strong defensively recently keeping three clean sheets in their last four with only Cumbernauld Colts finding a way through their back line.

The two sides met on the opening day with the Braves coming out on top at East Peffermill 6-0.

Ones to watch

Caledonian Braves – Ross McNeil

Edinburgh University – Mark Waters

East Stirlingshire vs The Spartans

By Gregor Mackintosh

It’s a return to football for both sides after a week off with Spartans making the short trip from the capital to the Falkirk Stadium to take on East Stirlingshire. Spartans will be looking for revenge after The Shire got the better of them during their previous encounter at Ainslie Park this season which saw Shire run out 3-1 winners.

The hosts find themselves in fine form having not lost a league game since October after dispatching Spartans, Cumbernauld Colts, Stirling Uni and Berwick Rangers, winning 3-1 in each of these games. Shire will look to continue their push up the table and have a chance of ending the weekend in first place if results around the league go their way however they have played more games than their fellow title competitors. Derek Ure’s men will hope for a rerun of the previous fixture between the two and with veteran Shire attacker Peter MacDonald returning to fitness and finding himself amongst the goals having registered 3 goals in his previous 2 games, there is no reason why Shire can’t tally another 3 points on the league table this season.

Spartans however will be looking for payback after going 1-0 up against Shire last time out before succumbing to a 3-1 home loss. Spartans also come into this fixture in fine form having got 4 wins from their last 5 games. This should set Dougie Samuel’s men in good stead when they travel to The Falkirk Stadium as they too look to push up the league table in a bid to overtake Civil Service Strollers who sit 5 points ahead and have played 2 extra games.

Ones to watch

East Stirlingshire – Peter MacDonald

The Spartans – Aaron Scott

Civil Service Strollers vs Cumbernauld Colts

By Damon Main

Edinburgh side Civil Service Strollers currently sit in a healthy 5th place in this season’s Lowland league. Sitting just off the pace behind Kelty Hearts and East Stirlingshire the Strollers are keeping in touch with those clubs above them who are somewhat distracted by the William Hill Scottish Cup.

After 15 rounds of matches the home side, who are located just off Marine Drive in the North of Edinburgh, have 9 wins to their name.  However, the goals against column will make worrying reading for manager Garty Jardine if he hopes to keep in check of those free scoring teams at the top of the table.

Recent form at Christie Gillies Park has been consistent without being spectacular.  The 3-0 win over Dalbeattie Star might have been routine although the 2-0 over Caledonian Braves was a little more hard fought.

This weeks visitors Cumbernauld Colts, while not spectacular, are an equally solid side who sit just behind Strollers in the table.

If available this weekend top scorer Marty Wright will be the man the Cumbernauld side look to for goals given he sits on 13 for the season.  Likewise Cammy Muirhead will look to continue his form in front of goal for the home side.

With very little seperating these sides when you look at just about any column on the Lowland League table this is sure to be a tight fixture.  Home advantage may hold sway for the Edinburgh side on paper but Cumbernauld have been free scoring recently so don’t be too surprised to see the visitors head back along the M8 with all the points.

Ones to watch

Civil Service Strollers – Cammy Muirhead

Cumbernauld Colts – Marty Wright

Gala Fairydean Rovers vs University of Stirling

By Ronan Alexander

Fresh from a two week back and coming into the game on a three match unbeaten run, Gala Fairydean Rovers are aiming to close the gap on the students who sit four points above their Border counterparts.

The visitors last fixture was a 2-1 triumph away to Gretna 2008 a fortnight ago before last Saturday’s clash with Spartans was postponed due to a frozen pitch.

Gala secured their second clean sheet of the campaign three weeks ago in their last game which was a goalless draw away to Caledonian Braves.

The two teams met back in August at Forthbank with Chris Geddes side coming out on top 2-1.

Ones to watch

Gala Fairydean Rovers – Phil Addison

University of Stirling – Jason Jarvis

berwick rangers vs gretna 2008

By Martin Fleming

Berwick Rangers host Gretna 2008 as they make the short trip across the border to Shielfield Park.

The former League 2 men will surely not be enjoying their inaugural Lowland League season as much as they anticipated after a poor start. The men from England sit only two points off the bottom four. Their last victory was mid-November over bottom of the table Vale of Leithen. Last week, they suffered a tight defeat against title contenders BSC Glasgow. Only a single penalty decided the game and the Black and Gold will feel hard done by.

Gretna 2008 are in the midst of a managerial shift after Chris Humphreys announced his departure from the club and former Gretna manager Rowan Alexander was announced as his replacement. Their league campaign hasn’t been the best – sitting only two points off the bottom, Gretna are desperate for a few points and this game could be the one. They come off a 5-1 defeat by Kelty Hearts in the Football Nation Qualifying Cup so maintaining a mid-table finish in the Lowland League must be a priority for the new man in charge.

ones to Watch

Berwick Rangers – Yaw Osei

Gretna 2008 – Daniel Smales

Vale of Leithen vs Bonnyrigg Rose

By Ronan Alexander

Bottom club Vale of Leithen host high flying Bonnyrigg Rose on Saturday with both sides in need of the points.

Vale boss Chris Anderson issued a rallying cry of making Victoria Park a difficult place to come ahead of their match with Spartans which proved to be the case in the first half as the Borders outfit competed well before the visitors ran away with it in the second half and won 5-1. Anderson’s men have now lost four consecutive matches, conceding 15 goals in the process but they do have big performances in them and will be hoping for one of them tomorrow.

Robbie Horn’s men have been flying this season and only suffered 1 defeat in their last 12 matches in all competitions. Their last result was a memorable one as they defeated Montrose in the Scottish Cup. Since then they have lost Louis Swanson who has made the switch across the capital to East of Scotland side Whitehill Welfare.

The two teams met on the opening day of the season with Rose coming out on top 6-0.

Ones to watch

Vale of Leithen – Liam Ireland

Bonnyrigg Rose – George Hunter