Lowland League Preview – Matchday 4

It seems like no time at all since we last spoke, probably because it was Monday. Yes, folks, it’s time for Matchday 4’s Lowland League Weekend Preview as some of the early season’s big hitters come under the microscopes of Ronan Alexander, Craig Edwards and Martin Fleming.

East Stirlingshire vs Whitehill Welfare

by Craig Edwards

East Stirlingshire welcome a Whitehill Welfare side that is still searching for their first point of the season and have let manager Gary Small go in search of the spark that will drive them up the table.

Whitehill have suffered defeats to Edusport Academy, Kelty Hearts and Gretna 2008, and face a couple of challenging fixtures starting with a trip to the Falkirk Stadium. Conceding goals has been a problem for Whitehill, conceding 14 goals in their opening three fixtures.

East Stirlingshire have only conceded one in their opening two games of the Scottish Lowland League and got their first three points of the campaign last weekend with a 6-0 thrashing at Forthbank Stadium against University of Stirling. John Sludden’s side will be looking to continue the form which has seen them go 21 matches unbeaten in the league and win all four previous league encounters between the sides.

Players to Watch

Whitehill Welfare: Jack Wright
East Stirlingshire: Del Ure

Edusport Academy vs Edinburgh University

by Ronan Alexander

Edusport Academy were out of action due to Selkirk’s requested postponement last week and will be looking to cement their strong start to the season with victory at Galabank. Edinburgh University are the visitors and are looking to rack up as many points as possible as they await their new intake of students.

Edusport started the season with a thumping victory at home to Whitehill Welfare with many of last season’s squad, including Raffi Krissian, Maxime Oulaitoh, and Liam Coogans, returning for the new season. Former Kilmarnock man Aidan Wilson will be one to watch in this match.

Edinburgh University’s start to the season has been impressive, with a 3-0 win over Gretna on the opening day and a 1-1 draw with Spartans coming before a 1-3 loss to Civil Service Strollers. There will be a number of players looking to cement their place in the Uni side ahead of next month and this is sure to be a fascinating match.

Players to Watch

Edusport Academy: Aidan Wilson
Edinburgh University: Finn Daniels-Yeoman

Gala Fairydean Rovers vs BSC Glasgow

by Martin Fleming

Dean Shanks’ men will hope to find their first point as they take on BSC Glasgow at the 3G Arena, Netherdale.

Despite scoring in every game and strengthening significantly in the Summer, The Fairydean sit at the bottom end of the table following a 4-2 defeat to Dalbeattie Star. Josh Morris tucked away two goals for his side; however, they proved fruitless as Star took their first win of the season. A nucleus of players who plied their trade in a successful Selkirk side last season will be looking to push on and impress once again. Keep an eye out for Sean McKirdy and Dale Baxter in the midfield who always have the potential to cause problems for defenders.

BSC Glasgow will also be desperate for a victory to take away from Galashiels as they sit with just one point from two games. Stephen Swift’s squad battled rivals East Kilbride at home last weekend and suffered a heavy 3-0 defeat. Swift has made a number of squad-altering signings for the 2018/19 season and will be hoping that they are able to gel ahead of a few vital weeks which sees them meet a resurgent Edusport Academy and Kelty Hearts.

A win for either side will help drastically in climbing out the bottom four of the table.

Players to Watch

Gala Fairydean Rovers: Dale Baxter
BSC Glasgow: Jamie Mills

Gretna 2008 vs University of Stirling

by Craig Edwards

Gretna 2008 have bounced back well since their opening day defeat to Edinburgh University with two straight wins and welcome the University of Stirling as they aim to make it three wins from four.

After two midtable finishes in the past couple of seasons, Gretna’s co-managers Andy Aitken and Davie Irons are trying to push forward and have made a strong start while the University of Stirling sit two points and eight places behind their opponents.

A 6-0 defeat at home to East Stirlingshire spoiled a good first couple of games for the University outfit after a draw with The Spartans and victory over Civil Service Strollers saw them take four points from their two opening games. With the students competing on multiple fronts, it can sometimes have a slight ‘hangover’ effect going into Lowland League matches and Chris Geddes will be keen to see his side pick up as many points as possible before a significant number of his squad go into contention for the BUCS League next month.

Both sides will see this is an opportunity after a peculiar set of results saw the away side win both games between these two last season.

Players to Watch

Gretna 2008: Daniel Wadge
University of Stirling: Dom Slattery

East Kilbride vs Vale of Leithen

by Ronan Alexander

After a 3-0 hounding of BSC Glasgow at the Indodrill Stadium last weekend, East Kilbride will be looking to take their rampant form forward as they welcome Vale of Leithen to K Park. Craig Malcolm has been on fire since joining Kilby on a permanent deal and  will be looking to add to his seven league goals. New manager Brian Kerr has talked up his side’s start to the season but Vale will provide a tougher test than many might have expected at the start of the season.

Despite losing 4-1 to The Spartans at home last weekend, Chris Anderson’s side have impressed so far in the league, taking four points from their opening three matches. Marc Berry has been in goalscoring form for the Innerleithen side this season but Sean Stewart will be their player to watch in this match if they are to break down the East Kilbride defence.

Players to Watch

East Kilbride: Craig Malcolm
Vale of Leithen: Sean Stewart

The Spartans vs Dalbeattie Star

by Martin Fleming

An unbeaten Spartans welcome Dalbeattie Star to Ainslie Park with both sides coming off impressive and much needed victories.

Spartans will hope to continue their good form following a confident 4-1 win over Vale of Leithen. Two goals from striker, Jason Stevens as well as a first goal from new signing, Steven MacDonald helped Spartans shake off the reputation of ‘draw specialists’. The league champions opened their season with draws to both University sides.

The Star found their first 3 points after an exciting 4-2 against Gala Fairydean Rovers. A duo of second-half goals from Dean Brotherston settled their first win of the season.

A win for either side would see them jump up into top table territory.

Players to Watch

The SPartans: Jason Stevens
Dalbeattie Star: Scott Milligan

Civil Service Strollers vs Cumbernauld Colts

by Craig Edwards

Cumbernauld Colts make the trip to Edinburgh hoping to preserve their 100% record so far this season and keep the pressure on leaders East Kilbride, who have played a game more, while leapfrogging their hosts in the table.

Civil Service Strollers’ midweek win away at Selkirk moved them up to second spot, albeit having played four games while teams around them have played one or in Colts’ case, two games less. Making it two wins in a row with a 5-0 away victory at Yarrow Park will give Strollers a bounce coming into the game but they will be aware that Cumbernauld Colts will present a significantly sterner test than a Selkirk in turmoil.

Cumbernauld Colts have done the job in both fixtures so far this season as they held off Gala Fairydean Rovers before coming from behind to snatch all three points at Broadwood against Kelty Hearts. Fraser Team has been an important player for them so far, contributing two vital goals.

The teams played out two 1-1 draws last season and, based on the league standings so far, it could potentially be another tight affair between Civil Service and Cumbernauld.

Players to Watch

Civil Service Strollers: Kyle Fee
Cumbernauld Colts: Fraser Team

Kelty Hearts vs Selkirk – POSTPONED

by Martin Fleming

Lowland League Board statement regarding this fixture

League newcomers, Kelty Hearts will host bottom of the table Selkirk at New Central Park. The home side will hope to continue their impressive start in their first Lowland League campaign.

Hearts come into the match on the back of a slightly unfortunate loss to Cumbernauld Colts in their last away fixture. Despite turning around a goal deficit either side of half time, Colts roared back into the game, levelling with 15 minutes to go before Sean Brown bagged the victory in second half stoppage time. Ciaren Chalmers and Ian Nimmo got the goals last Friday night and Kelty will be keen to bounce back in this fixture.

A struggling Selkirk will be recuperating from Wednesday night’s 5-0 defeat at home to Civil Service Strollers. It was The Souters first game since their request to postpone last week’s match-up against Edusport Academy and interim manager Gordon Rae will be looking to pull his makeshift side together to stop the rot. Selkirk have conceded 23 goals in the three games they’ve played so far and the first challenge for the Yarrow Park men will be to shore up the defence.

Players to Watch

Kelty Hearts: Stephen Husband
Selkirk: Matthew Mackie