SLFL Preview – Matchday 16

It’s the most wonderful time… of the week. It’s SLFL Preview time! There are a few absolute bangers in prospect as we enjoy our first full fixture card in a couple of weeks. As always, let us know where you’re heading and what your predictions are on Twitter or our Matchday 16 thread on Pie & Bovril.

BSC Glasgow vs east stirlingshire

Ronan Alexander

Table-toppers BSC Glasgow entertain East Stirlingshire in what’s certain to be a thrilling contest on Saturday afternoon. The two sides met in November in the South Challenge Cup, with BSC running out narrow 2-1 winners. Stephen Swift’s men will be looking to make up for their dropped points against Cumbernauld, and set about that task in fine fashion last weekend, a 4-0 win over Dalbeattie Star, with Ryan McStay netting a brace. Jack Smith and Martin Grehan will be back in contention for BSC, the strike force have 28 goals between them this season.

Shire come into the match on a rich vein of form with four wins in their last five games, including three consecutive triumphs. The first of which was an emphatic 3-0 victory at Yarrow Park against Selkirk, before a 2-1 win against Edusport Academy. Last time out saw Shire come away three points at Civil Service Strollers, with goals coming from Andy Rodgers, Jamie McCormack and Liam Allison. Centre back Michael Bolochoweckyj has given John Sludden’s side a further boost, extending his loan from Montrose until January.

Our Matchday 16 thread on Pie & Bovril has BSC Glasgow vs East Stirlingshire down as one of the games of the weekend. BSC fan Jerry MacGuire said:

Our game v Shire should be match of the day. Shire will be keen to avoid defeat having lost twice to BSC already this season. BSC will be looking to go on a winning run after putting a couple of disappointing results against Colts behind them with a convincing win last time out against Star.

Shire fan AlansHotBath picked this game out also:

I’m actually quite optimistic about the Shire game, should really be a sign I’ll end up bitterly disappointed. We have Bolo signed on until September, so he is able to play on Saturday which is a big plus for us.

Ones to Watch

BSC Glasgow  – Stevie Murray
East Stirlingshire – Michael Bolochoweckyj

Last 5 (League)

BSC Glasgow  – W D L W W
East Stirlingshire – W W W L W

cumbernauld colts vs hawick royal albert

Ronan Alexander

A stuttering Cumbernauld Colts welcome an improving Hawick Royal Albert side to Broadwood Stadium on Saturday. Colts’ form has been topsy-turvy of late, with losses to bottom half clubs Gala Fairydean Rovers, and Edusport Academy last weekend as well as a 1-1 stalemate with Civil Service Strollers. However, four points from a possible six against league leaders BSC Glasgow proves they are a force to be reckoned with in the SLFL. A 4-1 triumph over the Indodrill men three weeks ago was a perfect away performance, and they’ll be looking to replicate that at Broadwood on Saturday.

Visitors Hawick come into the game still looking to get their first point on the board. However, Craig Tully’s men are improving week by week. After a narrow 3-2 defeat to East Kilbride last time out, that certainly shows promise for what the rest of the season holds. With new forward Daniel Birrell notching his first goal in a cup tie last weekend, fellow new signing Ludovic Erhard will be looking to get in on the act and add to Albert’s five goals scored this season.

Ones to Watch

Cumbernauld Colts – Sean Brown
Hawick Royal Albert – Ludovic Erhard

Last 5 (League)

Cumbernauld Colts – L D W D L
Hawick Royal Albert – L L L L L

dalbeattie star vs vale of leithen

Derek Robertson

Having met just three weeks ago, Dalbeattie Star welcome Vale of Leithen for this return fixture with each putting an improved league position at the top of their Christmas lists. 

Darren Kerr’s men have struggled during this campaign in terms of both manpower and form, but morale is high after ending a six-game winless run prior to last weekend’s tough away assignment against leaders BSC Glasgow. However, their last home win was in the Islecroft opener, form which has to be rectified ASAP if Star are to avoid a rough run-in with the threat of relegation looming. Ex-Queen of the South man Dean Brotherston could have had a hat-trick in the previous clash between these sides, and along with a rejuvenated Tommy Muir will aim to fire Star back into the pack ahead of a vital few months.

Chris Anderson finds himself in a similar position to his opposite number, with patchy form proving to be a major issue. His charges have thus far failed to pick up an away win in all competitions, and at the halfway point of the league campaign pressure is building steadily. Vale’s man of the match in the previous meeting was goalscorer Ainslie Hunter, and he will be relied upon alongside recent loan signing Dachi Khutsishvili if the Innerleithen side are to turn the tables this time.

This is another match picked out by the good people at Pie & Bovril as one to watch. Newcastle Broon says:

Game of the day is at Islecroft if the game is on. Both teams in desperate need of the points at the bottom.

Alanshotbath is in on this one too:

I agree that the game of the day is Dalbeattie against Vale. The Star really need to win that one or things will really start to look dicey for them, even with a couple games in hand.

Ones to Watch

Dalbeattie Star – Dean Brotherston
Vale of Leithen – Dachi Khutsishvili

Last 5 (League)

Dalbeattie Star – L W L L L
Vale of Leithen – D L W L W

east kilbride vs edinburgh university

Sam Jenkinson

It’s still too close to call at the top of the Lowland League as we approach 2018, but East Kilbride boss Billy Stark will be encouraged by the way his side have performed throughout the Winter so far. Five league wins in a row, including a narrow victory over fellow title challengers Spartans, have seen them leapfrog the Edinburgh club into second, three points behind early leaders BSC Glasgow with two games in hand.

Another victory over Saturday’s visitors will keep the pressure on their West coast rivals as Kilby battle for their second straight Lowland League title. Their opponents, however, have been on a run of their own. After a tough start to the season saw Dorian Ogunro’s side only win one of their first nine games, an improvement in results has seen them move away from the Lowland League drop zone. It’s a tough away trip for the students – but recent form suggests anything could happen at K Park.

Ones to Watch

East Kilbride  – Tony Wallace
Edinburgh University – Jack Guthrie

Last 5 (League)

East Kilbride  – W W W W W 
Edinburgh University – D W W L W

edusport academy vs whitehill welfare

Derek Robertson

Galabank plays host to a lower-half clash between Edusport Academy and Whitehill Welfare, with both sides needing to put more points on the board in pursuit of guaranteed league safety.

Edusport’s victory away at Broadwood was their first in the league since mid-September, having been on the wrong side of several close games recently. The club launched their new ‘Our Football Club’ scheme this week offering shares to the wider public, and manager Ricky Waddell will be looking to carry this off-field momentum onto the pitch with more eyes focused on the team. Thomas Garnier is one to watch, ably assisted by classy midfield playmaker Ahmed Bouchentouf, but Louis Babel has stolen the show in recent weeks with four goals in four SLFL games.

Welfare took a heavy cup beating from Spartans last weekend and will be hoping a return to league business brings back their impressive recent form. Moving in the right direction in the table, gaffer Gary Small will be looking upwards and hoping to break into the top half as his squad begins to gel and understand each other fully. Jack Wright and Gary Nicholson are the Rosewell outfit’s top scorers with five goals each thus far (although a few of Nicholson’s came in a Selkirk shirt), don’t be surprised if they find the net again to help their side progress further. 

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Ones to Watch

Edusport Academy – Louis Babel
Whitehill Welfare – Jack Wright

Last 5 (League)

Edusport Academy – W L L L L
Whitehill Welfare – W W W W L

gretna 2008 vs gala fairydean rovers

Michael Park

Davie Irons and Andy Aitken have overseen a mini revolution since they returned to Raydale Park. Gretna 2008 have been one of the most exciting sides in the league this season, scoring 30 and conceding 24, and have a chance to go fourth if other results go their way. Kevin Connelly and Jake Smith have formed a strong partnership in the absence of Stuart Gray up front and will be hoping that they are able to give the home faithful something to holler about on Saturday afternoon.

Gala Fairydean manager Steven Noble endured a wildly inconsistent start to the Lowland League season but suffice to say that things have picked up, with the Netherdale side fighting their way into the top ten with some impressive results including the 4-3 comeback win over Cumbernauld Colts and a late victory over Edusport Academy last time out. The manager’s brother Stuart cropped up with two late strikes in that game, and eleven league goals for Gala this season and they will be looking to the veteran striker to fire them to victory at Raydale.

Ones to Watch

Gretna 2008 – Jake Smith
Gala Fairydean Rovers  – Stuart Noble

Last 5 (League)

Gretna 2008 – L W L W L 
Gala Fairydean Rovers  – W L W W L  

the spartans vs selkirk

Michael Park

Dougie Samuel’s Spartans return to action at Ainslie Park this weekend more than a month to the day since their last league action. Cup involvement and a weather-related postponement means that their last competitive SLFL appearance was in their 1-0 defeat away at East Kilbride’s K Park.

In the meantime the Edinburgh men have been eliminated from the Scottish Cup by Fraserburgh, the South Challenge Cup by Edusport Academy, but smashed five past Whitehill Welfare in the Football Nation Qualifying Cup to advance last weekend. With four games in hand over BSC Glasgow at the top of the table and only eight points separating the sides, Samuel will be confident of his side’s chances as they welcome Selkirk to Ainslie Park.

Scott Maxwell was singled out for praise by his manager against Welfare and he will be hoping to make an impact should his comeback from injury allow him to participate against Ian Fergus’ men who are enduring something of an injury crisis.

Having been boosted by the signing of George Hunter, formerly of Premiership side St. Johnstone, things are looking up in the league for the Souters who came from behind to beat Gretna 2008 in the reverse double header last time out in the league. Hunter scored one and laid on another for Ciaren Chalmers in the second half and will be looking to build on that and the imperious performance of defender Andrew Fleming, against Spartans rather than dwell on their 1-5 home loss to East Kilbride in the Football Nation Qualifying Cup last weekend.

Ones to Watch

The Spartans  – Scott  Maxwell
Selkirk – Andrew Fleming

Last 5 (League)

The Spartans  – L W W W W 
Selkirk – W L L W L

university of stirling vs civil service strollers

Sam Jenkinson

With the University’s students in the middle of their winter exams, player-manager Chris Geddes would have preferred a test much simpler than the visit of North Edinburgh side Civil Service Strollers this Saturday.

An interrupted schedule so far in this Lowland League season will have frustrated Geddes as his side struggle for consistency in his first season in charge. With only three games played since the start of November, it’s no surprise that results have been mixed after a strong start to the campaign.

Now deep into their second Lowland League campaign, Alex Cunningham’s side had a decent November, with a solitary defeat to East Stirlingshire rounding off after victories over Hawick and Dalbeattie Star. Strollers will be looking for three points to put themselves a point behind Saturday’s opponents as they look to finish in the top half for the first time.

Ones to Watch

University of Stirling  – Kieran Hall
Civil Service Strollers – Scott Gormley

Last 5 (League)

University of Stirling  – L W L W L
Civil Service Strollers – L W D L W