LEAGUE leaders Partick Thistle know that a home win over Raith Rovers will almost certainly see them top the league at Christmas. In seven of the last eight seasons, Santa has delivered the title to the side which was top of the league on 25 December – the only ones on the naughty list were Dundee in 2009-10, who finished the season second behind Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
The Jags have a 100% record at home in the league this term, scoring 26 times in their seven matches so far. Raith have lost just twice in their 13 matches against Thistle since they were promoted back to the second tier in 2009, but it’s worth noting that the Glasgow side recorded a convincing 3-0 win in the Challenge Cup in September.
If Thistle slip up, then the main beneficiaries could be a Dunfermline side who welcome Hamilton to East End Park for the first time since March 2008. The Pars last recorded a home win over Accies in December 1995, but they have only faced them three times since then. Dunfermline lost to Livingston last weekend, but haven’t lost two consecutive matches at this level since March 2010 when the succumbed to Partick Thistle (1-2) and Queen of the South (0-2).
After finally losing their unbeaten record with a midweek defeat to Alloa, leaders Queen of the South will be looking to bounce back when Brechin City visit Palmerston. Five of the last six league meetings between the sides in Dumfries have finished as draws – including two goalless encounters at Palmerston the last time the sides were in the same division – the First – in 2005-06. Brechin have grounds for optimism under new boss Ray McKinnon – their current five-match unbeaten run in the league is their best since the ten-game streak which sparked their run to the play-offs two seasons ago.
Meanwhile, second-place Alloa face a trip to Stair Park to face bottom club Stranraer. That midweek win confirmed Alloa’s position as the form side in the league – they have picked up 19 points from their last seven matches after an indifferent start. In contrast, opponents Stranraer have taken just four points from their last nine games. The Wasps are unbeaten in their last 15 league matches against Stranraer, including victories in each of their last six meetings. Stranraer’s last league victory over Alloa came back in October 2004 – David Graham scored both goals in a 2-1 win.
The game of the day in Division Three is at Hampden, as second-place Queen’s Park host third-place Elgin City. Elgin have embarked on an eight-match unbeaten run in the league since losing at home to the Spiders back in September – if they can avoid defeat on Saturday it would be their longest unbeaten run since they joined the SFL. Goals would appear to be guaranteed at both ends – the teams have just five clean sheets between them, and have only failed to score twice each.
Earlier on in the day, the ESPN cameras visit Montrose for their match against Rangers. Montrose are unbeaten in six league matches – their best run of form since going seven matches undefeated at the start of the 2008-09 season. They have lost just one of their last ten home league matches – a 2-3 defeat to Clyde on the opening day of this season. The Gers, meanwhile, have picked up five consecutive league wins, a run which has seen them climb to the top of the league.
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