Lowland League Preview – Matchday 24

Seven big matches coming up over the weekend including a huge  game in the relegation battle as Gretna 2008 welcome Edinburgh University to Raydale Park

cumbernauld colts vs the spartans

By Ronan Alexander

Cumbernauld Colts vs The Spartans

After a 7-1 victory last weekend, Cumbernauld Colts look to build on that and gather some momentum in the final third of the season as they welcome Spartans to Broadwood on Friday night.

In-form midfielder Stephen O’Neill bagged a hat-trick last weekend with top scorer Marty Wright also getting on the score sheet and Team of the Month midfielder Max Ashmore also in fine form.

The Colts can jump up to 7th if they claim all three points but know their Edinburgh visitors will provide a stern test.

Spartans sit fifth in the table and need to put together their best run of the season if they have aspirations of a top four finish. Dougie Samuel’s men are unbeaten in their last three and won a 3-2 thriller when they met Cumbernauld at Ainslie Park earlier in the season.

Ones to watch

Cumbernauld Colts – Stephen O’Neill

The Spartans – Scott Maxwell

caledonian braves vs civil service strollers

By Ben McNicol

Civil Service Strollers make the journey west on Saturday afternoon as they travel to Lanarkshire to face Caledonian Braves at Alliance Park.

Gary Jardine’s men made hard work of what was expected to be a comfortable afternoon against Gretna, with Craig Newell’s late winner enough to see off the Anvil’s.

The Braves come into Saturday’s fixture off the back of a good display at Kelty last weekend but have lost the last three meetings against the Strollers and have failed to score in those three fixtures.

The Christie Gillies Park side have a good away record and will be favourites to get another three points as they try to catch the top four.

However, Caley Braves have the second highest goal scorer in the division, Ross McNeil who has scored 15 goals this season.

Ones to watch

Caledonian Braves – Ross McNeil

Civil Service Strollers – Archie Roue

gretna 2008 vs edinburgh university

By Damon Main

While a trip to Gretna could never be tagged as arduous the 170+ mile round trip is probably one lots of the Edinburgh University playing squad could have done without especially as it falls on a cold February afternoon.

Granted this Lowland league match up could never be regarded as a marriage made in heaven but given the location of both sides at the foot of the table a win for either could be crucial and even pivotal to the next few months.

The honeymoon period for both in the increasingly demanding and competitive Lowland League is well and truly over but with survival rather than ambition being the name of the game for both teams a win this Saturday will be a cause for huge rejoice.

Gretna will need to somehow keep the door locked on its leaky defence and with Edinburgh looking just that little bit more cohesive at the back the visitors will once again look to the very impressive Paddy Baird for goals.

If Baird can continue to keep his run of form going the students have every chance of winning this fixture and shooting up a few places.

Ones to watch

Gretna 2008 – Robbie Hogg

Edinburgh University – Patrick Baird

berwick rangers vs east stirlingshire

By Gregor Mackintosh

East Stirlingshire make the journey south to Berwick-upon-Tweed this Saturday as they take on a struggling Berwick side, who are yet to record a win in 2020.

East Stirlingshire are in fine form recently after tallying two consecutive wins in the last two weeks, after a 3-0 away win against Vale of Leithen and a 6-1 thrashing over Dalbeattie Star at the Falkirk Stadium last weekend. The Shire should travel to Berwick-upon-Tweed with confidence after winning the first fixture between the sides 3-1 at the Falkirk Stadium on November 23rd and Shielfield Park will surely be a pleasant sight for Shire fans as they make their first Lowland League visit to the ground, and their first visit since February 6th 2016 when the two sides played out a 2-2 draw, while current BSC striker Thomas Orr was on the scoresheet for The Shire that day.

Berwick on the other hand have not been in the greatest form, with their last win coming on December 28th when they beat Caledonian Braves 1-0 at home. The recent losses to BSC Glasgow and East Kilbride and ties to fellow border sides Gretna 2008 and Gala Fairydean Rovers have seen The Wee Gers fall to 12th place in the league while the departure of Ciaran Brian could prove to be big shoes to fill in the Berwick defence, as he heads over to Sweden. It’s not all doom and gloom however, as Berwick have recently announced the signings of 22 year old left back Sam Daniels from the USA and exciting youth player Alassan Jones on loan from Dundee United for the remainder of the season, while the recently announced “1881 Club” has managed to raise an impressive £2365 and counting for their playing budget next season.

Ones to watch

Berwick Rangers –  Alassan Jones

East Stirlingshire – Jamie Dishington

gala fairydean rovers vs bonnyrigg rose

By Damon Main

High flying Bonnyrigg Rose travel to the Scottish borders for this Saturday’s game.  The hope is that they can continue to shine a Midlothian torch at the top of the Lowland League table as the race nears the final jump.

On one side of the starting post are Kelty Hearts from Fife and on the other are fellow former Junior side Bonnyrigg Rose.

However, you would need to have the blinkers on not to recognise that every fixture holds a sense of danger and one bad step could mean curtains for title hopes.   What makes this fixture so crucial for Bonnyrigg is that the first to run out of legs may well find themselves adrift at the top pyschologically.

Two weeks ago Kelty Hearts themselves went to Netherdale and found that they were a goal down at half time before pulling through to gain a 2-1 win.

With Danny Galbraith continuing to show touches of class in the midfield areas Gala are no push overs on any matchday and they can rightly be regarded as an established Lowland league side both on the field and in terms of structural set up.

And, with the range of both young and experienced heads manager Neil Hastings has, this fixture will not be any sort of forgone conclusion for visitors.

Ones to watch

Gala Fairydean Rovers – Danny Galbraith

bonnyrigg rose – kieran mcgachie

university of stirling vs east kilbride

By Gregor Mackintosh

Fresh off the back of a BUCS Premier North title win, Chris Geddes and his side will be determined to pull off an upset at Forthbank this weekend when East Kilbride come to visit.

Stirling University haven’t been in the greatest league form recently, with their last victory coming over Stirling rivals Shire in January 11th, when a late Craig Brown goal was enough to secure the Uni all 3 points. However, recent defeats to Bonnyrigg Rose and The Spartans have seen the talented Uni remain in 10th place in the Lowland League. Stirling University will be fired up after the title win earlier this week and will look to use that as a building point for the short term future and defeat a fairly inconsistent East Kilbride side.

The current reigning Lowland League champions East Kilbride are sat in 7th place this season after winning 10 of their 20 games so far this season. The season has been plagued by inconsistent performances, which can be seen in the 2-2 home draw to 11th placed Gala Fairydean Rovers last weekend, despite tallying wins over Berwick Rangers and Cumbernauld Colts, the latter of which they won 7-0 in January. The loan signings of Calum Hall and Kieran McGrath from Edinburgh City and Celtic respectively could help East Kilbride kick on in what could be seen as an underwhelming season for the two time Lowland League champions.

Ones to watch

University of Stirling – Kieran Hall

East Kilbride – Kieran Gibbons

dalbeattie star vs kelty hearts

By Ronan Alexander

League leaders Kelty Hearts make the trip to face relegation battlers Dalbeattie Star on Saturday with a crucial three points up for grabs.

Barry Ferguson’s men are now 18 games unbeaten with their last loss coming back in September against Auchinleck Talbot in the Scottish Cup.

Kelty have also been active in the transfer market this week with the addition of established Championship attacking midfielder Michael Tidser who joins from Falkirk. However, Chris Dodd has departed for Jeanfield Swifts as he searches for more first team opportunites and goalkeeper Ross Jardine has linked up with Preston Athletic.

The points are important for the hosts as they could stretch further ahead of bottom club Vale of Leithen with the Borders side not having a fixture this weekend. However, they’ll also have one eye on the Gretna v Edinburgh Uni fixture as the relegation battle heats up.

Dalbeattie are winless in their last three games but came out on top when Kelty visited Islecroft last season and will be hoping for a repeat of that result. Star will be without Curtiss Wilson who has a head injury however Greig Thorburn and Connor Graham are almost back to full fitness.

Ones to watch

Dalbeattie Star – Lewis Sloan

Kelty Hearts – Nathan Austin