League leaders Hamilton Academical will be looking to maintain their unbeaten record when Cowdenbeath visit New Douglas Park on Saturday. The Accies dropped their first points of the season last weekend, and will no doubt be fearful of the historical precedent discussed last week regarding the fate of clubs who started with four wins and slipped up on matchday five. Under the current league format (in place since 1994-95) two sides have made such a start and neither of them won the title.
Accies have kept clean sheets in eight of their last 11 league matches, but face a Cowden side who tend to have little trouble scoring goals, having only failed to find the net in five of their 25 league matches in 2013. Colin Cameron’s side will have fond memories of New Douglas Park – it was the venue where they secured a 3-1 win on the last day of last season to keep themselves in this division. However, that was one of just six league victories the Blue Brazil have recorded in their 46 trips to Hamilton. They have never managed two in a row.
Raith Rovers host Alloa Athletic as both sides look to build on promising starts to the season. The teams have not met in the second tier of Scottish football since 2000-01, when both teams were involved in a tight relegation battle – Rovers’ three wins over the Wasps proved vital as they stayed up and Alloa plunged into the Second Division Alloa have lost on each of their last five visits to Stark’s Park in the league. Raith have not won either of their home league matches this season, while Alloa failed to win either of their two away from home.
The play-offs offer the only realistic chance of promotion for clubs not named Rangers this season, and two prime contenders meet on Saturday when Arbroath host Stenhousemuir. Paul Sheerin’s side have made a stuttering start to the campaign, losing three of their opening five league matches and crashing out of both cups in the first round. Stenhousemuir, meanwhile, have made it to the Ramsdens Cup semi-finals and have lost just one of their opening five matches in the league.
Four of the last five matches between the sides have finished as draws, including a 4-4 thrilller in the first round of this season’s Ramsdens Cup which eventually concluded with Stenhousemuir victorious on penalties. Stenny have won their last four away matches in the league and will be aiming to win five on the spin for the first time since 1960-61, when they set a club record of nine in a row.
Ayr United and Brechin City will also be hoping to be in the mix come May, and they clash at Somerset Park this week. Ayr are one of only three unbeaten sides left in the lower leagues – they started with two wins and have followed that up with three consecutive draws. Brechin have recorded 2-1 wins in each of their last three matches against Ayr, but Ray McKinnon’s side have lost all four of their away matches in all competitions this season.
Leaders East Stirlingshire host one of the pre-season favourites Albion Rovers in the game of the day in League 2. The Shire reached their nadir in the 2003-04 season, picking up just eight points in the entire season. A decade later, they have already achieved 150 per cent of that points total within five matches. Rovers started the season with two wins, but appear to have already fallen back into their losing habit of last season, suffering defeats in their last two matches to take their tally to 19 losses in 26 matches this calendar year. Rovers did, however, take ten points from their four matches against the Shire the last time the sides were in this division together (2010-11).
Stirling Albion make the trip south of the border to take on Berwick Rangers, with both sides having made bright starts to the season. Berwick have won both of their home league matches so far this year, and have seven wins in their last nine in the league at Shielfield. However, the Binos are unbeaten in their last seven league games away from home, winning each of the last four. All four of the matches between the sides last season ended as home wins.