With split-season well underway in the Scottish Premiership, the penultimate midweek card served up an interesting round of action, with huge results for teams at both ends of the table.
Every club has just three matches left to play now so time is definitely beginning to look thin for some, whilst positive results for others look to have just about wrapped up their ambitions for the season. Join Brig Sport as we go over one of the main talking points from every game!
Hibs chase an uphill task for Dons
With 89 minutes played it looked like Aberdeen had picked up a huge win at home to Celtic. 1-0 up thanks to an early goal from Lewis Ferguson, and perhaps most importantly keeping the gap between themselves and third place Hibernian at just four points.
In the dying seconds of the game though up stepped a former Hibee to deal his former club a massive favour, Leigh Griffiths escaped Andy Considine in the penalty area, heading in Mohamed Elyounoussi’s cross to score his first goal since the 27th of January.
Given Hibs had the more favourable fixture of the night, Stephen Glass will surely be looking at Wednesday’s game as a substantial opportunity missed. After all the two sides are of course still scheduled to meet one more time before the campaign’s conclusion, meaning Aberdeen could easily have cut the gap to just one point.
Of course the Dons are still a team largely in transition, so all things considered seeing the season out in a guaranteed European spot is hardly a disaster, but it would be fair to say the draw at home to Celtic would leave even the most optimistic of Aberdeen fans all but ruling out their team finishing in third place.
County lose after scoring first, again…
A second-half collapse from 11th placed Ross County seen the Highlanders defeated 3-1 at home to St Mirren.
Jordan White put the home side ahead with an instinctive flick 18 minutes in, and to give credit to County it turned out to be first half they more than had the upper hand in, had it not been for some slices in fortune and a top-class save from Jak Alnwick, John Hughes’ side would have been further ahead.
But momentum is a funny thing in football, St Mirren pulled a goal back through Lee Erwin and just didn’t look back. Ross County could barely lay a glove as they fell to another defeat where they initially had taken the lead. That’s now three losses from the last three games for the Staggies in games in which they’d scored first, a stat which no doubt will be becoming a mental burden amongst the squad in the make or break point in their season.
What made the situation even worse for County was relegation play-off rivals Kilmarnock taking advantage, they steamrolled Dundee United and leapfrogged themselves into the driving seat for the final three games.
Kyle Lafferty – signing of the season?
As mentioned, Killie more than took advantage of Ross County’s slip-up, again largely with star man Kyle Lafferty to thank as well.
The Northern Irishman netted a hatrick in the 3-0 win. Despite only signing in February this took his tally to six for the season, on par with Leigh Griffiths, Christian Doidge, and £5 million man Albian Ajeti. In terms of goals per game, Lafferty is completely in a league of his own, with his outstanding 1.1 being 0.4 ahead of the nearest competition.
Many Kilmarnock fans may justifiably fear what would have happened had Tommy Wright not convinced him to join. Before Lafferty’s arrival they sorely missed that presence, someone who could get on the end of the vast amount of crosses Killie put in the area, however now it’s clear to see the Ayrshire club are reaping the benefits of finding a striker that fits their system to perfection.
It seems a hot take to suggest a player who only arrived for the final three months as signing of the season, but Kyle Lafferty’s impact at Rugby Park cannot be understated, if his side do go on to avoid the playoffs, a big part of that will be down to his form.
Penalty drama at McDiarmid
A late Liam Craig penalty earned a deserved point for St Johnstone as they played out a dress rehearsal for Sunday’s cup quarter-final against Rangers, drawing 1-1 on the night.
The spot-kick shout was the third of the game for Saints, but there’s definitely a case to be made that all three could well have been awarded. The first was the most bizarre, Shaun Rooney went down from Borna Barisic’s challenge in the box, referee Euan Anderson originally signaled for a Rangers goal-kick before changing his mind and pointing to the spot. With Liam Craig preparing to take however the referee went over to his assistant, who convinced him the Saints full-back had gone to ground too easily, overruling the decision.
The old ‘I’ve seen them given’ could be used to describe the situation, but when Kris Kane’s strike was blocked by the arm of Nathan Simpson a stronger appeal could defiantly have been made. Again though to the home side’s frustration, nothing was given.
Job done for Graham Alexander
Motherwell manager Graham Alexander made it very clear that when he was brought to Fir Park in January his goal was to steer the side clear of any relegation worries.
With three games now remaining in the season, the Lanarkshire side have now officially confirmed their safety, and can begin preparations for a 37th consecutive season in the Scottish top flight. There definitely have been a couple of bumps in the road along the way, but all in all the new gaffer will be more than happy with the job he has done so far.
In fact since his appointment, only Rangers and Celtic have picked up more points than the ‘Well, and currently in the bottom six no other team is anywhere near them form wise. With a push for seventh place and a national cup semi-final now realistic ambitions, things are surely looking up for Motherwell.
Livingston’s form, what happened?
The glory days of David Martindale’s exceptional start as manager of Livingston was a fantastic achievement at the time, but since losing 2-1 to St Johnstone at the start of February, the Lions are looking a shadow of the side that went 14 unbeaten.
Since that defeat, Livi have only had wins against Hamilton and Championship side Raith Rovers, their 2-1 loss to Hibs combined with 6th placed St Johnstone coming into a healthy run of form might leave supporters a little bit anxious coming into the run-in.
Currently there’s a four point gap separating the two teams, but with Livingston still to play both Saints and champions Rangers, the final potential European place definitely isn’t wrapped up just yet. Whatever has happened to Martindale’s sides form, they certainly need to come up with some sort of solution if some breathing room has to be opened up.
Featured Image Credit – BT.com