Saturday, March 26, 2011

First Division: Tough At The Top

Once again this blog has been guilty of ignoring the lower divisions. But an international break is always a fine time to patronise the minnows.

More seriously I've been missing out on an increasingly intriguing title race in the first division.

As it stands Raith Rovers lead fellow Kingdom-ites Dunfermline by two points. Falkirk lurk a further ten points behind in third but have three games in hand.

All of which means that today's clash between Falkirk and Raith might well have laid claim to Scotland's match of the day even without the SPL's holiday.

Raith's promotion push attracts me for a number of reasons.

The absolute dismay of the SPL high heid yins for starters.

John McGlynn has done an admirable job and deserves much credit. And it's been far too long to since we've been able to enjoy sports broadcaster wheel out their "dancing on the streets of Raith" scripted ad-libs.

But Raith are struggling to make the push that would take them clear while Dunfermline seem unable of putting together the sort of run that would punish them for their wastefulness.

All of which makes things tight and tense. And, we should probably concede, somewhat overshadowed by controversy.

Dundee continue to give the impression of being the league's most impressive side but languish in seventh, hamstrung by a 25 point deduction after one of their periodic episodes of financial tomfoolery.

This is league with drama and subplots at every turn.

Raith's lofty position can be put down to an impressive away record. Only once have they lost on the road.

That bodes well for them. A result at Falkirk would all but end the challenge of the home side and set up a Fife shoot-out for the title and the SPL's promised land.

Dunfermline host Partick Thistle today. League positions make the Pars favourites but they've only beaten them once in three attempts this season.

And in nine games since the start of February Dunfermline have won only four games. Raith have won five in ten over the same period. This could go all the way.

It seems to be set up to do just that. The top two face each other in the third last game of the season while Dunfermline host Falkirk on the final day. Nerve jangling.

I suspect that Falkirk might just be a bit too far out of the running, although a big win today could change that.

As for who eventually prevails? I wouldn't like to speculate. But it's going to be fun to watch.

At the other end

Without a win since October, time looks to be running out for Stirling Albion.

They're now nine points adrift of Cowdenbeath. A couple of weeks ago they had were three nil up against the Blue Brazil with 13 minutes left to play.

They lost 4-3.

The writing is on the wall, carved in stone. It doesn't make pleasant reading for the Binos.