THE game of the day in Division One is Raith Rovers’ visit to Dunfermline. The matches between the sides at East End Park have been traditionally close – in 45 league matches there, the Pars (19) have recorded just one more win than Rovers (18). Rovers have started the season with three clean sheets in the league, despite having had less than 50% of possession in each of their matches – this suggests they are adept at soaking up pressure. The Pars have committed more fouls (40) than any other First Division side this season, while only Cowdenbeath and Livingston have been on the receiving end of more fouls than Raith. The opposing managers are well acquainted, with Jim Jefferies managing when Grant Murray played for Hearts and Kilmarnock.
Early pace-setters Partick Thistle host Hamilton, just four days after their League Cup meeting. Coincidentally, the sides also met at Firhill during the last time the first day of September fell on a Saturday, with Accies winning 3-0 in 2007 thanks to two goals from Richard Offiong and one from Stuart Taylor. The Jags have been accurate in front of goal so far this season, hitting the target with 63% of their shots so far – more than any other side in the league. Hamilton have taken eight more shots than Thistle, but have recorded fewer shots on target.
The top two meet at Palmerston, as Queen of the South host Arbroath. The sides are meeting for the first time since a 0-0 draw at Gayfield in the First Division in April 2003. The head-to-head recorded between them in the league is tied with 38 wins apiece, but the fixture has been traditionally dominated by home wins. Indeed, in 50 previous meetings between the teams at Palmerston, Queens have won exactly half of them, while Arbroath have recorded just 12 victories. Queens have dominated possession in each of their matches so far, with an average of 59% per game. Arbroath have been happy to soak up pressure from their opponents, having recorded less than 50% possession in both of their wins.
Staying in the southwest, Stranraer host Ayr with both clubs still looking for their first league win. Ayr have an excellent record at Stair Park having won on 20 of their 35 visits, including each of their last six trips down the coast. The Honest Men have also had the better of the possession in each of their matches so far, but have allowed their opponents over 10 shots in each game. However, Stranraer have only had 17 shots so far in their three matches, with just eight on target.
With leaders Elgin not playing until Sunday, Peterhead have the chance to go top of the division with a victory at home to Montrose on Saturday. This will be the 25th meeting of the sides in the league – Peterhead have dominated so far, with 16 wins from the previous 24. Those matches have averaged over three goals per game, and both sides scored in each of the four league meetings last season. Peterhead are the most accurate shooters in the league, having hit the target with 70% of their shots so far. Montrose on the other hand, have only hit the target with 38% of theirs. The Blue Toon have also committed more fouls than any other team in the league (45) – their opponents Montrose have only committed 28 so far.
If Peterhead slip up, Clyde could go top with a win over Annan Athletic at Broadwood. This will be the tenth meeting of the sides in all competitions, and the Bully Wee have only recorded two wins in the previous nine. The 1-1 draw between the sides at Broadwood in March was the only time that both teams have scored in this fixture. Annan’s players have been fouled 38 times so far this season, more than any other team, but with Clyde having committed the fewest fouls in the league (19), Annan’s physio might have a day off.