For just the third time in the last 18 seasons, the destination of the title will be decided in the final weekend. In 2003-04, Inverness Caledonian Thistle saw off Clyde’s challenge, while in 2006-07 James Grady’s stoppage time goal at Ross County handed Gretna the title at the expense of St Johnstone. On both occasions, the losers were left with nothing to show for their season, but this time around there will at least be the fall-back of the play-offs. The last time three teams were still in the race on the final day came back in 1995-96, when Dunfermline Athletic, Dundee United and Greenock Morton were separated by just two points. The Pars sealed the title with a 2-1 win against Airdrieonians while United picked up a 2-2 draw at Cappielow to take the second automatic promotion spot on goal difference.
Dundee are in pole position but will have to overcome a Dumbarton side who dented Hamilton Academical’s title chances last week. A victory will clinch the title for the Dees, and even a point would be enough unless Hamilton win by eight or more goals against Morton. Dundee have history on their side too – the side topping the table going into the final match has won this division in each of the last 33 seasons. Paul Hartley’s side have conceded eight goals at Dens Park in the league this season (the division’s best record) but their opponents have the best away goal-scoring record in the league with 31 goals in 17 matches. Dundee have hosted the Sons on 31 occasions and have only suffered one defeat, which came in the midst of World War I – surely this will be the day that the Dees seal their first title since 1998?
If they slip up then they could yet be overtaken by Hamilton, who welcome relegated Morton to New Douglas Park. To have any chance of the title, the Accies will have to do something they’ve only done once in their last five games – win a football match. Despite being marooned at the bottom of the table, Morton have collected ten points from their last five matches – only Falkirk have won more in the same period – and having already taken points off Dundee and Falkirk in the last two weeks they’ll be hoping to complete a hat-trick. Hamilton are unbeaten in their last nine matches against Morton, winning seven. Should Dundee draw, the Accies would need an eight-goal victory – something which hasn’t been achieved at this level since Falkirk beat Airdrieonians 8-0 in March 2000. Hamilton haven’t won by such a handsome score-line since March 1994, when they recorded a 9-1 win over Brechin City.
Falkirk are not yet out of the race either – they need to win at home to Alloa Athletic and hope that Dundee lose and Hamilton fail to win. They’d also need a three-goal swing over Dundee to clinch the title. The Wasps have plenty riding on the match too – they’re just a point clear of Cowdenbeath in the relegation play-off spot and need a win to secure their safety. The last meeting of the sides came back in March, when Alloa won 3-0 at Recreation Park. Since then, however, both sides have played six matches – the Bairns have taken 16 points while the Wasps have managed just three. Falkirk have yet to score against Alloa this season – in addition to that 3-0 game there were two 0-0 draws.
If Alloa fail to win then Cowdenbeath can pull off an unlikely escape by beating Queen of the South at Central Park. The Blue Brazil seemed doomed to the relegation play-offs when they trailed Alloa by seven points with three matches remaining, but victories over Livingston and Raith Rovers have seen them close the gap to a single point. Jimmy Nicholl’s side have an inferior goal difference, so a point would only be enough for them if Alloa lose by seven or more goals. Queens are all but certain to finish fourth (it would take a 12-goal swing for Dumbarton to overhaul them) and they may have one eye on Tuesday night’s play-off quarter-final first leg. Cowden have not won any of their last ten matches against the Doonhamers – their last victory came at Palmerston in November 2001.
Even though the title was wrapped up weeks ago there’s still plenty to play for on the final day of the League 1 season, with relegation and the final play-off spot still to be decided. Of the division’s ten sides, only four have nothing to play for on Saturday afternoon and only one of the matches – Dunfermline Athletic v Rangers – is “meaningless” in terms of finishing positions.
Down at the bottom Arbroath visit Airdrieonians, and the Lichties know they must better East Fife’s result in order to avoid automatic relegation. Paul Sheerin’s might have the poorest away record in the division over the season but they’ve picked up a two wins and two draws in their last five matches on the road. Airdrie have finished the season in sensational fashion – they are unbeaten in seven matches and have suffered just one defeat (at Ibrox) in their last 15. Arbroath have lost on six of their eight visits to the Excelsior Stadium, and their only victory came back in January 2004.
East Fife know that a victory will ensure they avoid the automatic relegation spot, but they face a tough trip to Somerset Park to take on an Ayr United side who also need the points. The Honest Men know that a victory will guarantee them a promotion play-off spot – any sort of slip up could see Stenhousemuir or Forfar Athletic leapfrog them into fourth. Neither side is in great form – Gary Naysmith’s side have lost three games in a row, while Mark Roberts’ men have picked up just one point from their last five matches. Ayr have won all three of their fixtures against East Fife this season, each of them by a margin of more than one goal.
Should Ayr drop points then the door would be opened for Stenhousemuir, who travel to Glebe Park to take on Brechin City. Scott Booth’s side must win to have any chance of a play-off spot – their inferior goal difference means a point wouldn’t be enough unless Ayr lost by eight goals. Stenny have won just four of their 18 league matches this calendar year and come into the match off the back of two consecutive defeats, while their opponents have taken three wins and a draw from their last four games. However, the Warriors are unbeaten in their last five away matches and have won all three of their games against Ray McKinnon’s side this season.
If Ayr lose and Stenhousemuir fail to win then Forfar Athletic could blindside them both and sneak into fourth by winning away to Stranraer. The Loons visited Stair Park as recently as March and came away with a 4-0 victory but since then they have taken just one point from three games on the road. Stranraer are in abysmal form, with three draws and six defeats in their last nine matches, but only an incredibly unlikely turn of events could see them miss out on the play-offs – it would take a defeat to Forfar plus victories for Ayr and Stenhousemuir, with Stenhousemuir also making up a nine-goal margin. There is still some incentive for Stranraer though – a victory would guarantee third place and a play-off semi final against Dunfermline rather than the ninth placed Championship side.
The final play-off place is still up for grabs, with Stirling Albion needing a point at home to Clyde to secure their spot. The Bully Wee have already secured a play-off spot but still have an incentive to take something from this match – a defeat would see the Binos leapfrog them into third and would give Clyde a play-off semi against the ninth placed League 1 side rather than League 2 runners-up Annan AThletic. The Binos have four wins and a draw from their last five matches, while the Bully Wee have won six of their last nine games. Clyde have won on seven of their last 12 trips to Forthbank, and are unbeaten against Stirling this season.
If Stirling lose then Berwick Rangers could pinch fourth place with a victory at home to champions Peterhead. Berwick have won their last three matches and will be looking to become just the third side (after Peterhead and Annan) to string together four wins in a row in League 2 this season. Colin Cameron’s side have the second best home record in the division, behind Peterhead themselves, but the Blue Toon have won 11 of their 17 away matches so far this term. The history books don’t look great for Berwick – in 15 league meetings with Peterhead they only have two wins, and they haven’t won any of their last nine in the league. They did however eliminate their opponents from the Scottish Cup back in October and will look to gain inspiration from that success.
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