PARTICK THISTLE travel to Airdrie United knowing that a victory will leave them top of the table at the turn of the year. The team who were top at ‘the bells’ have won this division in seven of the last eight years, the only exception being 2009-10, where Dundee were 8 points clear of Queen of the South and Ross County, but ended up finishing second behind Inverness (who trailed by 12 points on 1 January but eventually won the league by that same 12 point margin). It is worth noting, however, that the Jags were not top at the New Year the last time they won this division in 2001-02 – they trailed Airdrieonians on goal difference.
There have been just two draws in the 20 previous meetings between Airdrie United and Thistle – the Glasgow side have 13 wins to Airdrie’s five. The Jags lost 2-0 on their last visit to the Excelsior Stadium in February 2010, but thumped the Diamonds 7-0 at Firhill earlier this season. Airdrie have not won any of their last seven home league matches, while Thistle have now gone four away games without a win in the league.
If Thistle slip up, then all eyes will be on Cappielow where the winner of the clash between Morton and Dunfermline could go top as we enter 2013. Allan Moore’s side are the division’s form team – they have 30 points from their last 13 matches, suffering just one defeat in that period. In contrast, Dunfermline have gone three matches without a win and have slipped behind Morton in the title race. There should be goals – the two sides have not played out a 0-0 draw in any of their last 27 meetings – the last one came in December 1993, the day before Mr Blobby knocked Meat Loaf’s “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” off the top of the UK charts.
Queen of the South will definitely be top of the pile as we enter the new year – that has been converted into success at the end of the season seven times in the last decade in the Second Division. The Doonhamers travel to Stenhousemuir, who are still in touch with the play-offs for both promotion and relegation. Queens suffered defeat each of their last two away matches (against Killie and Alloa), but Stenny have won just one of their last eight league games. The sides haven’t met at Ochilview since September 2003, when Queens picked up a 2-1 win in the League Cup.
Meanwhile, Forfar host East Fife with both teams involved in the battle for the promotion play-offs. East Fife have gone 14 league games without a draw since sharing the spoils in each of their opening two matches, while Forfar have only drawn twice this season – both against Arbroath. While the famous “East Fife 5 Forfar 4” scoreline hasn’t ever cropped up, these sides have played out some high scoring matches recently, with 27 goals in their last six meetings.
Rangers are 12 points clear and will top the table at the start of 2013. Strangely, only three sides in the last decade have gone on to win the title from that position – Gretna, East Fife and Livingston. The leaders make the short trip across Glasgow to Hampden, where they face a Queen’s Park team who are unbeaten in four matches. Rangers have won nine consecutive league matches, but are still a few wins away from beating Gretna’s record of 14 wins in a row. Queen’s Park have drawn four of their seven home matches in the league this season, winning twice and losing once.
Annan Athletic face their first ever home SFL match without Harry Cairney in charge when Elgin visit Galabank. This will be the tenth meeting of the sides in the southwest – Elgin lost on each of their first three trips to Annan, but are unbeaten in the six matches since then. Annan have gone six league matches without a win, while Elgin have lost just three times in their last nineteen – all against Glasgow clubs.