Lowland League Preview – Matchday 18

The biggest game of the season at the bottom of the table as well as seven other important clashed throughout the division

vale of leithen vs edinburgh university

By Damon Main

To tag this crunch fixture as a six pointer may well be the under statement of the year.

Both teams have got a sole win each and the goals against column, especially for Vale of Leithen, makes seriously grim reading.

Last weekends 11-0 whalloping from Kelty Hearts said as much about Kelty’s ambitions as it did about Vale’s shortcomings.  The last point the Innerleithen side gained was against Cumbernauld Colts back at the beginning of October with a 2-2 draw but since then they have lost an incredible 28 goals.

The big positive is that this Saturday Vale of Leithen can at least climb off the foot of the table should they defeat the equally struggling Edinburgh University side.   Indeed with Gretna hosting the high flying Kelty Hearts they could jump above the Raydale side as well with a win this weekend.

Of course Edinburgh University will hope to have something to say about it all but with many in the student side more than likely distracted by the exam period Vale of Leithen will never have a better chance to start climbing up that table.

Ones to watch

Vale of Leithen – Liam Ireland

Edinburgh University – Patrick Baird

bonnyrigg rose vs cumbernauld colts

By Ronan Alexander

Title chasing Bonnyrigg face another tough test on Saturday when they welcome a dangerous Cumbernauld Colts side to New Dundas Park.

Since their Scottish Cup triumph over Montrose, the Rose have kicked on in the league with back to back victories and clean sheets, most recently last weekend away to East Kilbride.

Having only conceded 12 goals in their 15 league matches, Rose keeper Mark Weir will however expect to be tested from Colts, and their top scorer Marty Wright in particular. Wright has bagged 12 of Cumbernauld’s 35 league goals so far this campaign and he will be pivotal if the visitors are to take more points from another top team in the division.

Goals will be expected as Cumbernuald last four matches have all included at least four goals. Despite a 4-1 loss to Shire last time out, Craig McKinlay and James Orr’s men have won their last two away matches, including their last visit to the capital in a 3-2 win against Civil Service Strollers.

When the sides met back in August, it was Bonnyrigg who came out on top 2-0.

Ones to watch

Bonnyrigg Rose – Jonathan Brown

Cumbernauld Colts – Marty Wright

caledonian braves vs east kilbride

By Euan Fairley

Scotland’s newest derby comes to Strathclyde Country Park on Saturday as the Braves welcome East Kilbride to Alliance Park for the first time. With tickets reduced to £2 it offers an excellent-value festive alternative for local football fans to see a derby between two closely-matched sides.

The Braves arrive at the season’s half-way point having had an erratic first six months in their new guise. This has continued in recent weeks with a thumping 5-1 win away to Gretna thrown in amongst a 3-1 defeat to Cumbernauld Colts and a disappointing home draw with Gala Fairydean. It’s fair to say that Braves don’t do boring, having scored and conceded around twice as many goals as opponents East Kilbride.

Managerless East Kilbride come into this game on the back of tough games against the top two sides, which both resulted in narrow defeats. In last week’s defeat to Bonnyrigg they were able to stifle Rose’s attack and will feel that only Kieran Gibbons’ red card stopped them from taking something from the game. This promises to be an intriguing fixture with East Kilbride’s more cautious approach facing off against Brave’s more gung-ho style.

Ones to watch

Caledonia Braves – Serge Makofo

East Kilbride – Ruari Paton

civil service strollers vs berwick rangers

By Ronan Alexander

Fifth place Strollers welcome an inconsistent Berwick side with both teams looking to gather some momentum as we head into the festive period.

Each of Strollers last two victories have been followed up with a defeat but they will look to change this after a 3-0 triumph over Edinburgh University last weekend.

New signing John Dunn from Edinburgh City has brought a new spark to Civil’s midfield having already chipped in with two goals for Gary Jardine’s side.

The Wee Gers have been itching to climb the table since their poor start to the season, however this has still not quite happened for Ian Little’s side. Berwick have only won two of their last nine matches, and those wins were over struggling duo Vale of Leithen and Gretna 2008. Berwick’s four wins have all been  against the four sides below them in the table.

They have to start taking points off the teams above them if they are to stand any chance of gathering momentum. Strollers came out on top 3-1 when the sides last met.

Ones to watch

Civil Service Strollers – Ryan Shanley

Berwick Rangers – Ricky Miller

east stirlingshire vs bsc glasgow

By Gregor Mackintosh

East Stirling play host to fellow title challengers BSC Glasgow this weekend in a replay of the opening game of the season, which finished in a 1-1 draw.

BSC come to the Falkirk Stadium in fine form having won their last 7 games in a row, a run that stretches back to October 27th. This fine run of form seen them advance to the next round of the Scottish Cup too after an injury time comeback win over East Fife. This run had also seen striker Thomas Orr move himself to 2nd in the Lowland League top goalscoring charts after amassing 12 goals in 14 games.

East Stirling on the other hand have had a much more inconsistent run of results, with their last 5 results bringing 3 wins and 2 losses for Derek Ure’s side. The Shire will be looking to claim all 3 points in what could be a pivotal game to determine how the Lowland League table looks come the end of the season. Shire fans can be happy with the news that two of this seasons star performers have signed on for next season, with both Jamie Dishington and Nicky Low signing into until 2021.

Kickoff is at 3pm on Saturday December 21st at the Falkirk Stadium. Entry to the game is by donation only, with all proceeds going towards the Forth Valley Sands charity which helps support the families of those who have suffered the loss of a baby through being stillborn or neonatal death, which is undoubtedly a great cause.

Ones to watch

East Stirlingshire – Bobby Barr

BSC Glasgow – Thomas Collins

gretna 2008 vs kelty hearts

By Ronan Alexander

After setting a Lowland League record 11-0 victory last time out and defeating Gretna 2008 10-0 when the sides last met in the league, Kelty will be looking to continue running riot in their title push.

The hosts have made progress since then, shown by only losing out 5-1 when they met Kelty in the cup but that proved to be Chris Humphrey’s last game in charge of the raydale Park side and he will now line up in the marroon of Kelty having made his debut for them and contributed two assists last Saturday.

With Vale of Leithen meeting Edinburgh Uni, something has to give at the bottom of the table and Gretna know the gap will be closed if they fail to pick anything up tomorrow.

The visitors will aim to continue their relentless run with Bonnyrigg Rose being equally as consistent and BSC Glasgow keeping up with the pace of the title chasers.

The match is subject to a 9am pitch inspection on Saturday morning.

Ones to watch

Gretna 2008 – Dean Watson

Kelty Hearts – Dylan Easton

the spartans vs gala fairydean rovers

By Damon Main

Last week’s convincing 4-0 win over Dalbeattie Star was more than enough to leave Ainslie Park regulars feeling very optimistic about the forthcoming festive period fixtures.

The home side took Dalbeattie Star apart last Saturday capitalising on the defensive shortcomings of Star and using its attacking talents to hammer home three first half goals that killed the game as a contest.

If Spartans can feel every right to feel happy about that 4-0 home win then the men from Galashiels will be looking to Saturday’s visit to Spartans to rectify last week’s 0-4 reverse to BSC Glasgow.

To have any hope of getting something from the trip to Ainslie Park Rovers will have to put the shackles on dangerman Aaron Murrell who smacked home a hat-trick last week against Dalbeattie.

With only four wins all season Gala Fairydean will have to work very hard to get anything from the fixture.  Spartans however have been at times inconsistent and with Christmas period being known for its shocks don’t be too surprised if we see the Borders club taking something back down the road come 5pm on Saturday.

Ones to watch

Spartans – Aaron Murrell

Gala Fairydean Rovers – Zander Murray

dalbeattie star vs university of stirling

By Ronan Alexander

University of Stirling make the trip down to Dalbeattie seeking revenge for when Ritchie Maxwell’s side came out on top 3-0 back in October.

The visitors come into the match off the back of a 1-0 triumph over Berwick Rangers courtesy of a late Kieran Hall strike. Chris Geddes’ side will be aiming to get to Christmas in ninth place in the table as three points could see them leapfrog East Kilbride who the students are level on points with.

The hosts need to be tighter at the back if they are to pick up more points after conceding 11 goals in their last three matches. Dalbeattie haven’t won a home league fixture since August having suffered five consecutive defeats on their own turf. And with Vale facing Edinburgh Uni, they will be peering over their shoulder if they fail to collect anything on Saturday.

Ones to watch

Dalbeattie Star – Phil Middlemiss

University of Stirling – Craig Brown