The match of the day sees Alloa Athletic, the division’s surprise package, welcome Dundee to Recreation Park. Alloa go into the contest as the league’s form side – in their last five matches, they have picked up 13 points and conceded just one goal. Dundee, meanwhile, suffered a shock defeat to Cowdenbeath last weekend but the result was just one of two defeats in their last ten league games – in the same run, they recorded seven victories. The Dees have scored a whopping 20 goals in their last three visits to the Recs, but given that the matches were played between 1947 and 1978, their relevance is questionable.
Raith Rovers are also in the title shake-up and they take on Cowdenbeath at Stark’s Park in a festive feast of Fife football. Rovers have won their last five home matches, and have suffered just one defeat in Kirkcaldy all season. The Blue Brazil have tended to accumulate their points in streaks – since the beginning of 2011-12, only once have they ended a run of league defeats and then failed to start an unbeaten sequence of more than one game. This bodes well for Saturday’s clash, given their victory at Dens Park last weekend. Furthermore, they’re also unbeaten in their last three visits to Stark’s Park, winning once and drawing twice.
Arbroath have slipped into the relegation play-off spot and will be looking to turn things around when they host second place Dunfermline Athletic. The Lichties have recorded two points from their last seven games, while the Pars have 13 from their last five. They haven’t met at Gayfield since a Challenge Cup tie in October 1992 (in which Arbroath won 3-0), and they haven’t met there in the league since August 1985 (a 3-3 draw). The sides have met 40 times in Arbroath, with the hosts winning 20 times compared to Dunfermline’s ten.
East Fife will look to continue their recent revival under Gary Naysmith when they challenge fellow strugglers Brechin City at New Bayview. The Fifers have won their last two league matches – the last time they won three-in-a-row was almost exactly a year ago. Brechin, meanwhile, have been miserable away from home this season. They’ve taken one point from eight matches, the joint worst in the SPFL alongside Greenock Morton. East Fife have not won any of their last six home league matches against Brechin – their run of four draws and two defeats stretches back to March 2010.
At times, the League 2 promotion race seems like a game of musical chairs, with the title and the play-off places going to the sides who happen to be in the right positions when the music stops. This column looks at games between four of the current top five, but there’s still a long way to go until that big finger presses the pause button.
Clyde are currently top of the pile with six wins and one defeat in their last nine matches, but they take on an Albion Rovers side who comfortably beat them at Cliftonhill in August. The pair meet at Broadwood, but the Bully Wee go into the match with some trepidation: they have not won any of their last five league matches against the Rovers, with their last victory coming way back in April 1993. James Ward’s team have recovered from a disappointing opening to record three wins and a draw in their last four. They currently sit in fifth.
Second place Peterhead welcome third place Stirling Albion to Balmoor as they look to extend their six-match unbeaten run. The Blue Toon have not lost at home in the league this season, but they’ve drawn six of the eight, including four of their last five. Stirling haven’t won any of their last six away league matches this season, conceding an average of two goals per game. To make things worse, they haven’t won on any of their last seven trips to Peterhead (but five of those matches ended as draws).
Today’s question comes from life-long Stranraer FC supporter Rudolf Legg, 72.
“I remember reading a nice story from the Great War when one Christmas day, the English lads and the German lads stopped shooting each other to have a kick about. It got me thinking – when was the last time that Scottish clubs played on Christmas Day?”
Hmm, that’s a good question, Rudolf. The last time Scottish league matches were played on Christmas Day was back in 1976, when two fixtures went ahead – it was a Saturday, after all. In the First Division, Alex Ferguson took his St Mirren side to Kilbowie to face Clydebank and the sides played out an entertaining 2-2 draw. Elsewhere, Alloa Athletic and Cowdenbeath supporters didn’t get have much of a chance to enjoy their presents on Christmas morning – their Second Division clash kicked off at 11:30am! The match at Recreation Park finished 2-1 in the hosts favour and, as far as we know, everyone got home in time for their Christmas dinner.
The last full card on Christmas Day took place on Saturday 25 December 1971. Eighteen matches went ahead across the country’s two divisions. The results are available here.
If you are curious about any team-specific stats or records, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet Craig at @SPLStats and he will pick out the most interesting questions.