Falkirk travel to Dens Park to take on league leaders Dundee knowing that they need a win if they are to have any chance of claiming the title. The Bairns have been dreadful on the road in recent weeks, losing four of their last five away matches and conceding a total of 12 goals in the process – they had only let in six in ten away matches prior to that. Dundee have kept seven clean sheets in eight matches since the appointment of Paul Hartley, but have averaged just one goal scored per game in that period.
Dundee have taken just one point from three matches against the Bairns so far this season. You’d have to go back to St Johnstone in 2008-09 to find the last side who managed to win this division without recording a win over every other side (Saints failed to beat fifth place Queen of the South in that season). The UK music chart included “Barbie Girl” by Aqua and “Teletubbies Say Eh Oh” in the top ten the last time Falkirk managed a win at Dens Park – that came in December 1997 when David Moss scored the only goal of the game. The Bairns have visited eight times since that success, losing on five occasions and drawing the other three.
If Dundee slip up, Hamilton Academical could go top with a win away to Cowdenbeath. The Accies are in a sensational run of form – they have taken 19 points from their last seven matches and have scored 20 times in that period. However, Cowdenbeath have picked up three wins and a draw in their last four home matches and can count on the third best home goal-scoring record in the division (behind only Hamilton and Falkirk). The Blue Brazil’s downfall at home has been their defensive record – their tally of 30 goals conceded is the worst home record in the division, though they have kept three clean sheets in their last four at Central Park. The last two meetings of the sides have featured 13 goals: Cowdenbeath led 2-0 and 4-0 with 25 minutes to go, but lost 4-2 in the first game and just held on for a 4-3 win in the second.
Stenhousemuir will be hoping to keep alive their slim hopes of a play-off spot by taking all three points against Ayr United at Somerset Park. Stenny are unbeaten in nine league matches, but a whopping seven of those were draws. As a result, they have failed to make up any ground on the play-off places: they were seven points behind Ayr in fourth place at the start of the run, and remain seven behind now. Mark Roberts’s side, meanwhile, have won their last three matches, and will be looking to make it four league wins in a row for the first time since November-December 2008, a season in which they would eventually be promoted. Ayr have only won one of their last nine matches against Stenhousemuir – that was a 4-3 success the last time the Warriors visited Somerset Park, back in November.
The meeting of Stranraer and Airdrieonians at Stair Park brings together two sides who have had sharply contrasting fortunes of late. After spending so long looking comfortable in the play-off places, Steve Aitken’s men have picked up just three wins in twelve and are now nervously looking over their shoulders at Forfar Athletic and Stenhousemuir. Their opponents, meanwhile, were looking like certainties for relegation two months ago but have lost just once in ten matches to climb up to the heady heights of eighth. The Diamonds’ tally of 19 points from their last ten matches is the best in the division outside of Rangers – the next best is Forfar with 14.
Annan Athletic will aim to keep up the pressure on Peterhead at the top of the table when they host play-off hopefuls Stirling Albion. Jim Chapman’s team have been in scintillating form of late, picking up six wins in their last seven matches and 11 in their last 15. Stirling seem to be clinging on to their play-off spot via a combination of smoke and mirrors – they have picked up just two wins in 11 and haven’t won any of their last five, but remain a point clear of fifth placed East Stirlingshire. There have been 16 goals scored in the three meetings of these sides at Galabank.
East Stirlingshire will be aiming to leapfrog the Binos into that final play-off spot when they welcome Clyde to Ochilview on Saturday. The Shire have suffered two consecutive defeats, and will be keen to avoid a repeat of last season when they lost each of their last nine league matches. Jim Duffy’s side have lost three of their last four away matches, and have the unusual distinction of having scored and conceded the fewest goals away from home in the division this season. The sides have met 15 times since Clyde were relegated in 2010, and it is the Bully Wee who have the upper hand with eight wins to the Shire’s five. However, the Shire have the better of things at home, with three wins to two.
If you are curious about any team-specific stats or records, e-mail us at email@example.com or tweet Craig at @SPLStats and he will pick out the most interesting questions.