Lowland League Preview – Matchday 9

After a fortnight of cup fixtures, the Lowland League is back and here’s what we’ve got in store

caledonian braves vs east stirlingshire

By Craig Edwards

East Stirlingshire make their first trip to Alliance Park this weekend as they face Caledonian Braves.

Both sides are aiming to bounce back from Scottish Cup exits last weekend.

Braves bowed out at home as they were on wrong end of a seven goal thriller against Highland League Rothes while Shire suffered last minute heartbreak at Broxburn Athletic.

The new home has been strong for Braves with only the two defeats including the cup one as they adjust to life at Alliance Park and won their last home game in the Lowland League against University of Stirling.

The cup defeat was Shire’s first loss in four games after a strong run of form that including victories in their past two league games.

Both sides sit in the top half of the league table but know if they are to start mounting a serious title challenge, three points is required on Saturday.

Ones to watch

Caledonian Braves – Marc Kelly

East Stirlingshire – Nicky low

Kelty Hearts vs Gala Fairydean Rovers

By Euan Fairley

 It’s second versus 11th at New Central Park with high-flying Kelty welcoming stuttering Gala Fairydean Rovers. Kelty are the clear favourites in this encounter with an enviable record of 40 goals scored and only 3 conceded, meaning Gala will likely have to weather the Kelty storm to escape with any points.

The hosts come into this game on the back of their disappointing televised Scottish Cup exit to seasoned campaigners Auchinleck Talbot. They do, however, sit tantalisingly close to the league summit, only a point off top spot with a game in hand. With Bonnyrigg expected to beat Gretna this weekend, Kelty will be looking to clock another 3 points on the leaderboard to maintain their challenge. Anything less could be damaging, even at this early stage.

Gala’s form against the teams above them in the league doesn’t suggest there will be a shock in this game, however they have yet to receive any heavy league defeats and are no pushovers. With tricky Yrik Galantes on the wing and Scott Taylor-MacKenzie dictating play in the middle Gala are capable of causing an upset and have proven their ability when facing the league’s relegation candidates.

Ones to watch
Kelty Hearts – Nathan Austin
Gala Fairydean Rovers – Scott Taylor-MacKenzie

Berwick Rangers vs Cumbernauld Colts

By Gregor Mackintosh

It’s a return to Lowland League action on Saturday as Cumbernauld make the trip south to play Berwick Rangers. Colts had a disappointing Scottish Cup first round as they were defeated 5-1 from a strong Penicuik side, while Berwick were defeated by East Kilbride 3-2 in the Lowland League.

Berwick will be looking to register more points in the league as they currently sit in 13th place, having secured a rather measly 4 points from a possible 18. The Wee Gers have recently signed 18 year old Joao Baldé from Rangers on a loan deal until January, who will be looking to open his Lowland League account this weekend. Star striker Daryl Healy will also be looking to add to his impressive tally of 5 goals in 6 appearances, however the game may be decided by the rather leaky Berwick defence, whose last clean sheet came on the 24th of August in a 4-0 win over Newtongrange Star in the South Challenge Cup.

Cumbernauld will looking to rectify their heavy Scottish Cup defeat, with Colts striker Marty Wright surely feeling he can score against a Berwick defence which has conceded 15 times in 6 games. However, inconsistency has plagued Cumbernauld this season, with brilliant results including a 2-1 injury time win over title-chasing Kelty Hearts being perhaps overshadowed by a 0-0 draw to strugglers Gretna 2008. If they can overcome the consistency issues then they may find themselves pushing further up the table.

It’s sure to be an interesting game with two underperforming sides taking each other on as both sides look to move further up to the top half to the table.

Ones to watch

Berwick Rangers – Daryl Healy

Cumbernauld Colts – Max Ashmore

BSC Glasgow vs University of Stirling

By Liam Govey

Fresh from their respective cup exploits, BSC and Stirling Uni will contest something of a local derby in Alloa on Saturday. The home side were given a bye to the Second Round of the Scottish Cup, meaning that they have only played the once since their last league game. With an away draw to Lochee United in the next round, however, BSC might fancy their chances of progressing further and drawing one of the big guns.

That sole game played was in the South of Scotland Challenge Cup at Bo’ness United.  Though extra time was needed, BSC were 2-1 victors after a goalless 90-minutes. BSC will now face Gala Fairydean Rovers at home in the next round.

The Students may not have received a bye, but they made it through with an impressive 3-2 win away to Highland League side Keith. They will host Linlithgow Rose in the Second Round. As for their South of Scotland Cup exploits, Stirling Uni received a bye of their own due to Arniston Rangers having been unable to fulfil the fixture. They will face Spartans away in the next round.

BSC will look to continue their solid start, sitting 3rd in the Lowland League standings. Their last league game was an impressive 3-1 win away at the only remaining unbeaten side, Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic earlier in the month. Stirling University sit in 10th, though will be looking to push up the table, having drawn with struggling Edinburgh University 1-1 last time out in the league.

Stirling University had no joy against BSC last season, losing their home fixture 2-3 back in September 2018. The same fixture last season at the Indodrill was even more miserable, with the students succumbing to a 6-1 defeat back in December 2018.

Ones to Watch

BSC Glasgow: Thomas Orr

University of Stirling: Matthew Burrows

Dalbeattie Star vs Vale of Leithen

By Ronan Alexander

Two of the league’s strugglers meet at Islecroft on Saturday as Dealbeattie Star welcome Vale of Leithen.

Both sides come into the match off the back of disappointing Scottish Cup exits last Saturday. Dalbeattie were defeated 3-1 at home by Gala Fairydean Rovers, meanwhile Vale crashed out 5-0 at the hands of Fort William.

Despite Vale’s miserable start to the campaign, manager Chris Anderson has pledged his future with the club as he aims to turn things round, beginning with a crucial result tomorrow.

Dalbeattie know what it takes to win these kind of fixtures and their last league outing had a similar feel to it when they travelled to Raydale Park and defeated Gretna 2008 4-2 as Steven Degnan bagged a hat-trick.

The two teams met here on the final day of last season and the match ended all square as Ross Green’s strike for Star was cancelled out by Liam Ireland.

Ones to watch

Dalbeattie Star – Steven Degnan

Vale of Leithen – Calum Hall

Edinburgh University vs Civil Service Strollers

By Damon Main

If there is one thing that EUAFC will be grateful for this season it is the fact that they are playing in the same league as Vale of Leithen and Gretna 2008 both of whom are really struggling.

With the Perffermill club being honest at the beginning of the season that retaining Lowland League survival is the name of the game, it is only now with the academic year commencing that Edinburgh are getting back to having a much fuller squad to choose from as the crucial autumn period of Lowland League fixtures kick in.

Last Saturday’s 1-3 home reverse in the William Hill Scottish Cup to Junior side Lochee United shouldn’t detract from what was a spirited performance from Uni.  Only goals from McComiskie (2) and Grant Lawson were enough to win Lochee a match where Edinburgh fought well from the first whistle and equalised midway through the second half thanks to Paddy Baird.

That Scottish Cup spirit will be what manager Dorian Ogunro will hope to take into this match against a rather inconsistent Civil Service Strollers side who themselves come into this Lowland league fixture off the back of a 1-4 reverse in the cup to Buckie Thistle.

With this fixture originally scheduled to be a home game for Strollers, University will look to make home Peffermill advantage count before they face a challenging game midweek at home against Bonnyrigg Rose.

Ones to watch

Edinburgh University – Ross Watters

Civil Service Strollers – Josh Morris

Gretna 2008 vs Bonnyrigg Rose

By Martin Fleming

It’s a predictable top vs bottom battle at Raydale this weekend as league leaders Bonnyrigg Rose travel south to play 15th place Gretna 2008, however with both teams coming off impressive Scottish Cup victories, an upset could always be a possibility.

Chris Humphry’s men will hope to use the confidence gained from their 1-0 win over Hill of Beath Hawthorn last week to add to their meagre sole point on the Lowland League table. After a devastating start to the season and a string of awful results, that Cup win could be the turning point they need. Their last league outing saw a 4-2 defeat to Dalbeattie Star which allowed Star to climb away from the bottom four. Only Vale of Leithen remain below.

The league leaders come off two big cup wins but will hope to bounce back in the league after being handed their first defeat of the season by BSC Glasgow. The loss clearly never affected the Midlothian men’s confidence as they thrashed Glasgow University 5-0 in the South Challenge Cup and cemented their place in the next round of the Scottish Cup thanks to a 1-0 win over Highland League side, Fraserburgh.

Ones to Watch

Gretna 2008 – Daniel Smales

Bonnyrigg Rose – Ewan Moyes

Deveronvale vs Spartans (Scottish Cup)

By Gregor Mackintosh

Spartans make the long trip north to face Highland League Deveronvale in their William Hill Scottish Cup First Round replay this weekend, after a 1-1 draw at Ainslie Park last Saturday.

Deveronvale currently sit in 13th place having won one game from their opening 7 fixtures, which came over a month ago on the 10th of August in a 4-0 home thrashing of Huntly. Deveronvale have then went on to have a rather barren spell of results, with their only other non-loss of the season being a 2-2 draw to fellow strugglers Wick Academy away from home on the 3rd of August. Deveronvale will of course have the home advantage, although this has proved to be of little benefit so far this season. Deveronvale have combated their issue of scoring goals by signing striker Scott Dunn from Clachnacuddin earlier this week.

Despite Deveronvale’s bad start to the season, they proved they are no pushovers at Ainslie Park. Spartans have had a solid start to the season, winning 5 games out of 7, despite taking defeats from Kelty Hearts and BSC Glasgow respectively. Defensive issues have been the main focus of these defeats, as Spartans have conceded 11 times in 7 games, despite scoring 10 themselves. Spartans will have to ensure their solid back line from seasons past are ready for what will be a tough game, although Spartans have more experience in the Scottish Cup which may be beneficial for this weekend’s game.

Ones to watch

Deveronvale – Robert Scott

Spartans – Cameron Dawson