Lowland League Preview – November 9th

We’ve two Lowland League fixtures and six South Challenge Cup ties coming your way this weekend.

the spartans vs berwick rangers

By Damon Main

Two big name Lowland League clubs punching below their weight clash at Ainslie Park tonight.

Players change and management teams come and go but it was not so long ago (just last April in fact) that Spartans were crowned the Scottish Lowland League title winners for 2018.

The story of Berwick Rangers meanwhile is even more of a dramatic downfall when you consider that as recently as 2007 the English club were Scottish League Division Three winners.

This season though Lowland League title wins would seem a forlorn hope.

Spartans have been inconsistent in the league form and the Ainslie Park side sit below the breakaway powerhouse group of Kelty Hearts, Bonnyrigg Rose and East Stirlingshire.  Berwick Rangers meanwhile hoped that this season would be a little more comfortable than it has turned out to be.   The Shielfield Park side sit far too close to the drop zone for some supporters liking and need wins fast if they are not to become detached at the bottom as they did last season in SPFL2.

This Friday night Berwick will look to get revenge for the home 1-2 East of Scotland cup defeat they suffered to Spartans just last midweek.  Spartans meanwhile will look to build further on the fine win they had last weekend over Dalbeattie Star just to keep in touch with the top of the table sides.

ones to watch

the spartans – aaron murrell

berwick rangers – daryl healy

bsc glasgow vs preston athletic

By Ben McNicol

This Friday night BSC Glasgow welcome Preston Athletic to Indodrill Stadium for a fourth round tie in the South Challenge Cup.
BSC beat Bo’ness United and Gala Fairydean Rovers in the last two rounds to make this stage so far and will be heavy favourites to topple the East of Scotland league side.
Stephen Swifts men are in decent nick this season and currently sit fourth in the Lowland League table, while Preston Athletic lay fourth two league’s below.
The hosts come into the game off the back of a 4-1 victory against Gretna on Saturday, while the visitors recent game was postponed so the extra rest could play a major factor if it is close towards the end of the game.

ones to watch

bsc glasgow – thomas collins

preston athletic – dylan weldon

gretna 2008 vs gala fairydean rovers

By Martin Fleming

Chris Humphrey’s men host Gala Fairydean Rovers in league action at Raydale and the home side are desperate for points as they remain just one point off the bottom.

Neil Hastings Galashiels squad come off a good victory over Edinburgh University. That 3-2 win allowed Fairydean to sit in a mediocre 11th place but a victory over a lowly Gretna could potentially secure them 10th. However, they will be without Levi Kinchant after the defender received two yellows last weekend.

Gretna come off a tough loss to BSC Glasgow. The 4-1 fixture did anything but flatter the Raydale side and they remain desperate to climb away from the bottom three. Only a point separates them, Edinburgh Uni and Vale of Leithen and if it continues this way, the relegation battle will be a close and tense one.

ones to watch

gretna 2008 – kevin connelly

gala fairydean rovers – niall kelly

dunipace vs bonnyrigg rose

By Liam Govey

As the South Challenge Cup reaches the last 16, Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic remain as one of eight Lowland League teams in the tournament at this stage. They make the journey east to Denny in Stirlingshire to face Dunipace of the East of Scotland League First Division Conference A.

Last season, both sides were in Conference B, with the Rose romping to the title, finishing nine points clear of nearest rivals Bo’ness United. Having won the play off league seeing off Penicuik Athletic and Broxburn Athletic, Bonnyrigg now ply their trade in the Lowland League, and have enjoyed a superb start to the season.

Dunipace finished twelfth in the same Conference, and, were it not for Eyemouth United having lost every game, they would have finished bottom. As you might expect, Bonnyrigg did the double over this weekend’s opponents last season, losing 6-0 in Bonnyrigg and 4-0 in Denny respectively. The move into Conference A has given the Pace a huge boost, as they currently sit third after fourteen games, with twice as many wins as they had during the entirety of last season at this stage already.

The Pace have seen off Coldstream (1-3), Edinburgh United (1-2) and Glenrothes (3-1) to get to the last sixteen and will face what is undoubtedly their biggest test so far in Bonnyrigg. The Rose themselves entered at the second-round stage back in September, seeing off Glasgow University (0-5) and Threave Rovers (3-0) with consummate ease.

Having spent the early part of the season setting the pace in the Lowland League, Bonnyrigg will hope to this time see of the Pace on their way to the Quarter Finals at Westfield Park this weekend.

ones to watch

dunipace – greg macpherson

bonnyrigg rose – dean brett

east kilbride vs east stirlingshire

By Gregor Mackintosh

East Kilbride will host East Stirlingshire on Saturday in SFA South Challenge Cup action, which Kilby are currently the defending champions of, after defeating Bonnyrigg Rose 2-1 in last year’s final.

East Kilbride should feel confident moving into this fixture, after they got the better of Shire in the Lowland League earlier this season, where East Kilbride won 1-0 thanks to a late Ruari Paton goal. However, EK have also lost their previous 2 games, with two consecutive 1-0 defeats to the University of Stirling and Kelty Hearts respectively. The Shire’s previous two games have been a stark contrast to that of East Kilbride, with Shire recording two 3-1 victories over Cumbernauld Colts and Spartans.

Shire will look for Jamie Dishington to continue his red-hot run of form, which has seen him net 11 league goals this season from the wing and has seen him gain an October Lowland League Team of the Month award.

East Kilbride will look to regain their usual solid defensive displays which have been missing in recent games, and will need club captain and last season’s Lowland League top scorer Craig Malcolm to step up and fire East Kilbride to the next round in an attempt to retain their SFA South Challenge Cup.

ones to watch

east kilbride – anton brady

east stirlingshire – andy rodgers

kelty hearts vs university of stirling

By Craig Edwards

Kelty Hearts welcome University of Stirling to New Central Park as the Kelty faithful get to see their side at home for the first time since September.

Being away from New Central Park hasn’t seemed to have bothered Kelty as they secured five successive away triumphs in the Lowland League, including over University of Stirling.

That game at Forthbank saw the students take the lead but Kelty fought back and ended up 4-1 winners.

The University side were brought back down to earth last weekend with defeat at Bonnyrigg Rose after beating the champions at K Park the week previous and will be aiming for a cup run.

Both sides knocked out fellow Lowland League sides in the previous round, Kelty easing past Vale of Leithen 6-1 while Stirling beat Spartans in a five goal thriller.

ones to watch

kelty hearts – sean mckirdy

university of stirling – james berry

caledonian braves vs bonnyton thistle

By Ronan Alexander

Caley Braves welcome South of Scotland side Bonnyton Thistle to Alliance Park on Saturday with the visitors coming into the game on a solid run of form.

Bonnyton have played 10 league games so far this season and only lost one, having won six and drawn three which sees them sit fourth in the table.

The two sides did meet when Caley Braves Reserves side who also play in the South of Scotland league faced of with Bonnyton and the men from Kilmarnock ran out comfortable 4-0 winners. They are unbeaten in eight including a 3-2 win over Nithsdale Wanderers where Marc Walker bagged a hat-trick.

The hosts come into the game off a mixed bag of results, with the latest being last Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Berwick Rangers where defender Raffi Krissian salvaged a point with a last gasp equaliser.

ones to watch

caledonian braves – neil mclaughlin

bonnyton thistle – marc walker

hill of beath hawthorn vs cumbernauld colts

By Martin Fleming

Cumbernauld Colts travel to Keirs Park to take on Hill of Beath Hawthorn in the next round of the South Challenge Cup.

The Broadwood men will hope to bounce back after their last league fixture which saw a 3-1 defeat to East Stirlingshire. So far, they have managed to fight off Dalbeattie Star and Jeanfield Swifts, both  1-0 victories. A bit of silverware would surely look good for a side who are struggling to climb away from Lowland League mid-table.

Hill of Beath sit in a comfortable 4th place spot in the East of Scotland Premier Division having won five and only lost two of their opening ten games. Their journey to the fourth round of this cup has been a hard one having beaten Penicuik Athletic 3-2 in the last round. Prior to that, they had to secure a tight 2-1 victory over Whitehill Welfare.

Both teams could greatly benefit from a next round in a cup competition and with Colts eager to get back to winning ways, it could be anyone’s day.

ones to watch

hill of beath – daniel watt

cumbernauld colts – marty wright