Welcome to the latest installment of The SPFL Premiership Review. Written by myself, Ciaran Foreman, I’ll take you through all of the weekly talking points in the weird and utterly wonderful world of Scottish Football.
This week will feature two new elements to the series: Writers Predictions vs Scorelines and a Player of the Week picked by myself.
Writers Predictions vs Scorelines
|Rangers vs Kilmarnock||2-0||1-0|
|Motherwell vs Hamilton||2-2||1-4|
|Aberdeen vs St Mirren||1-1||0-0|
|Dundee United vs Livingston||1-2||3-0|
|Ross County vs Hibernian||0-1||N/A (Postponed)|
|St Johnstone vs Celtic||1-2||1-2|
Player of the Week
Odsonne Edouard is the Player of the Week on this edition of The SPFL Premiership Review.
The Frenchman dug his side out of a hole when they needed him most, and very neatly finished both of his goals to lead Celtic to their fourth win on the bounce.
Ryan Jack Screamer Inspires Rangers to Victory
Ryan Jack’s incredible volley was the only difference between Rangers and Kilmarnock as the Ibrox side picked up their 25th win of the season.
Rangers came into this match following their 1-1 draw to Hamilton Accies, and despite not winning on Saturday by the most convincing margin, they certainly answered any critics to that poor performance.
Kilmarnock on the other hand are struggling. They are yet to pick up any points under Tommy Wright’s leadership as of yet, but will be hoping to turn that round as their next crucial run of games sees them face three bottom-six sides in their next four fixtures.
Rangers thought they had opened the scoring early in the game when James Tavernier fired into the back of the net inside the box, however, the linesman had other ideas and ruled the goal offside as the Englishman had strayed that little bit too far.
Ianis Hagi then almost converted a free-kick just outside the box, but the Romanian’s shot curled too far to the left of Chris Doyle’s net.
Rangers wouldn’t have to wait long for their breakthrough though, as Ryan Jack teed himself up for an exquisite volley which he rifled into the top right corner of the goal. Aaron Tshibola’s attempted clearance fell straight to the midfielder, and he certainly made the most of it with the only goal of the game coming from 25 yards out.
Ryan Kent could probably have scored a hat-trick of his own on Saturday, but the winger was wasteful in his finishing despite an otherwise good performance.
The hosts were constantly on the front foot and looking to add to their tally, but goalkeeper Chris Doyle kept the scoreline down after saving a one-on-one which Joe Aribo failed to put away. Kilmarnock failed to threaten for the majority of the match, but they may have felt heavily aggrieved at not being awarded a late free-kick outside the box as Leon Balogun pushed substitute Danny Whitehall to ground – a chance which could have seen the visitors level the game.
At the full-time whistle, the win extended Rangers gap at the top of the table to 21 points – before 2nd placed Celtic faced St Johnstone – meanwhile the loss for Tommy Wright’s side sees them drop down to 10th, just one point off the foot of the table.
Accies Demolish Rivals Motherwell in Lanarkshire Derby
Hamilton Accies lifted themselves out of bottom place after thrashing ten-men Motherwell 4-1 at Fir Park.
Hamilton have picked up a very important three points in the relegation battle, and have put the pressure on Ross County who now drop down to 12th place to respond in their next run of fixtures.
Their rivals Motherwell however, failed to build on their recently impressive form where a victory would have seen The Steelmen put pressure on the top-six, but the loss sees them remain in 9th in a congested area of the table.
The visitors got off to a terrific start when loanee Bruce Anderson converted his first Accies goal from a Ross Callachan cross in the 7th minute, setting the tone for their ruthless afternoon.
Bevis Mugabi however, could have levelled the game shortly after, but the Ugandian international blazed his header way over the bar from a corner.
Hamilton were always looking to build on their lead, and both strikers Anderson and Marios Ogkmpoe came close. It would come from a similar position where Ogkmpoe missed his previous header where Hamilton would get another opportunity to extend their lead. Bruce Anderson glanced a header toward the back-post, and Ross Callachan would have tapped it in had it not been for Stephen O’Donnell, who brought the midfielder down in the six-yard box. The Motherwell defender was dismissed for the foul, and Ross Callachan converted the penalty not once, but twice as O’Donnell was still on the park at the time of the first penalty.
Accies then found themselves 3-0 up in the 31st minute, after a lovely bit of interplay between the two strikers saw Ogkmpoe through on goal, and the Greek striker made no mistake in finding the bottom right corner.
Substitute David Moyo would then send Accies into dreamland when the striker found himself unmarked at the front-post, finishing beyond Liam Kelly with excellent technique.
Motherwell would pull one back before the end of the game when Mark O’Hara finished a penalty in the 68th minute, but it was too little too late in a dissapointing afternoon for The Steelmen and Graham Alexander, who was also sent off.
Goalless at Pittodrie as Aberdeen’s Poor Run Continues
It’s now five games without a win or a goal for Derek McInnes’ side as they were held to a 0-0 draw by St Mirren at a windy Pittodrie.
Derek McInnes has claimed that he hopes to see more from his players when they head to Celtic Park, as he spoke of the “concern” that his Dons side are struggling for goals. The draw keeps Aberdeen in 4th place, but with Hibs’ impressive recent run of form, the pressure is still on to finish in a European place.
For the visitors, the point wasn’t enough to keep them in the top-six, but Jim Goodwin will take confidence from the fact that his side has two games in hand on Dundee United, who sit a point above them.
Ryan Flynn had a fantastic chance to open the scoring early in the first-half, but Joe Lewis denied the midfielder with a fine stop.
The hosts largely failed to ask questions of The Buddies in dangerous positions, with a long-range effort not troubling Jak Alnwick, before Niall McGinn fell over the ball in what would have been a good position – summing up Aberdeen’s recent displays.
St Mirren’s only real opportunities would come from crosses, and in-swinging free-kicks which failed to give Lewis anything to worry about, and a Jon Obika shot which he skied over the bar in the first-half. There was a lack of clinicality by both sides.
A calamitous piece of defending in the second-half nearly cost the visitors, but the defenders managed to gather the ball and make a clearance in what would have been a rather undeserved goal. Both sides failed to really threaten, and the result was a fair reflection on the events at Pittodrie.
Livingston battered at Dundee United as Shankland Bags a Brace
Just twenty men were left on the pitch after 90 minutes at Tannadice as David Martindale’s side tasted defeat for the second time in a row.
Dundee United picked up another impressive three points, as well as their second clean sheet in a row, to really distance themselves from any lower table fights. The Tangerines second win on the bounce puts them into 6th place temporarily, as St Mirren look to leapfrog them yet again.
Livingston on the other hand, have failed to put pressure on Aberdeen in 4th place after losing their last two games. David Martindale has taken the blame for Saturday’s defeat, as well as claiming his players need to do better defensively. Livi play just one more league game before they meet their Betfred Cup Final opponents St Johnstone at Hampden on the 28th of February.
Dundee United couldn’t have asked for a better start, as Argentinian Adrián Sporle rifled a shot into the roof of the next after just 50 seconds to give the hosts the lead.
Livingston nearly responded immediately, when a long-throw found its way on to Jack Fitzwater’s head, but the defender nodded straight at Benjamin Siegrist.
Lawrence Shankland was very lively throughout this match, and nearly got his first of the game when he broke through on goal and flicked the ball over Livi goalkeeper Max Stryjek’s head, but Nicky Devlin was on the goal-line to clear, before the ball went out for a corner.
The first red card of the game followed, when Peter Pawlett’s late lunge into Jason Holt saw the midfielder dismissed after 31 minutes. Livingston, then went on the hunt for the equaliser, but their poor passing cost them when substitute Ian Harkes intercepted an over-hit ball, before laying it on to Lawrence Shankland who slotted past Stryjek.
The visitors could have reduced the deficit to just one goal in the second-half when Jay Emmanuel Thomas struck just outside the six-yard box, but the strikers shot went way over the bar in what was a poor afternoon for Livingston.
Martindale’s misery continued when Jack Fitzwater was sent off, following a heavy lunge which toppled Ian Harkes, removing Livingston’s numerical advantage.
Shankland cemented the victory as he added his second of the game with an excellent curled finish from inside the box, putting Dundee United 3-0 up in the 83rd minute.
Ross County’s match against Hibernian did not take place on Saturday, following a pitch inspection which deemed the surface to be frozen. The match has been postponed.
Edouard’s Magic Rescues the Three Points on Valentine’s Day
Celtic continued their run of victories with a 2-1 win over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park on Saturday.
The loss for Callum Davidson’s side is just their second of the year, with their only other defeat coming at the hands of Rangers. Certainly a sign of encouragement as St Johnstone look to win their first trophy since 2014 on the 28th.
Celtic have now picked up four wins in a row, and are on their best run of form since they last won as many consecutive victories in December 2020. Neil Lennon spoke about his happiness with the performance, and believed his Celtic side “could have won the game by more”.
Clear-cut chances were hard to come by in the first-half of this game, Kristoffer Ajer and David Wotherspoon both blasted chances over the bar early on, as both teams tried to find their rhythm.
Shane Duffy will have been dissapointed as the Irishman failed to connect cleanly from a corner, with his header soaring way off the mark.
Tom Rogic then almost put Celtic one up, when he met a Odsonne Edouard cross at the back post, but Callum Booth was there to clear it off the line.
David Turnbull and Ryan Christie were wasteful with their shots as the first-half came to a close, with both players failing to cause Zander Clark any problems.
St Johnstone would draw first blood in this game, when Shaun Rooney leaped over Greg Taylor and Callum McGregor to head home in the 50th minute. But their lead wouldn’t last for long.
Just ten minutes later, Odsonne Edouard met a Ryan Christie cross at the front post, beating his man and powering the ball past Clark to level the game.
Celtic weren’t done there though, and hit St Johnstone yet again just after scoring their first goal. Two minutes after he grabbed his first, Edouard got another following some lovely passing play from the visitors. David Turnbull flicked the ball on to Ryan Christie, who dummied the ball – confusing two St Johnstone defenders – before Grey Taylor found the Frenchman in the box. Edouard turned his man, dragged the goalkeeper wide and fired into the corner. Exquisite technique from the striker who seemed to dig his team out of a hole at McDiarmid Park.
Look ahead to upcoming fixtures…
Wednesday, 17th February 2021:
Celtic (2nd) vs (4th) Aberdeen – 6pm K.O
St Mirren (7th) vs (11th) Hamilton – 6pm K.O