With leaders Dundee set for what should be a straightforward match against bottom side Greenock Morton, the focus will be on the chasing duo Hamilton Academical and Falkirk. The Accies face a trip to Recreation Park to take on an Alloa Athletic side who have dragged themselves back into contention for the final play-off place. Everything seems to point to an away win – Hamilton have lost fewer away matches than any other side in the division, while only Cowdenbeath have lost fewer home matches than Alloa. In addition, the Accies have the league’s joint best defence away from home, and the Wasps are the lowest goal-scorers at home. That said, Alloa have picked up a pair of 1-0 victories in the last two meetings between the sides.
Falkirk, meanwhile, travel to Kirkcaldy to face a Raith Rovers side in free fall. Rovers have not won any of their last nine league matches, picking up just four points and dropping from third to eighth in the process. They find themselves four points ahead of Cowdenbeath in the relegation play-off, but they’re only four points from Dumbarton in fourth. To beat Falkirk, they’ll need to keep it tight at the back – the Bairns are the only side in the division yet to concede more than two goals in a match, and have only lost one or less in 80 per cent of their matches. Falkirk’s away form this season has been poor – only the three bottom sides have picked up fewer points on the road. Furthermore, they have not won on any of their last six visits to Stark’s Park: they last tasted success in January 2011 when Jack Compton and Mark Stewart were on the scoresheet.
Airdrieonians will be hoping to continue their climb away from the abyss when they host Ayr United. Gary Bollan’s team are unbeaten in six matches, conceding just four times in the process. However, that home clean sheet seems perpetually elusive – they have gone 24 games without one since drawing 0-0 with Raith Rovers in November 2012. Ayr have been dominant in matches against the bottom five sides this season, picking up 33 points from a possible 39, but the Diamonds held them to a 2-2 draw back in August. Since their rebirth in 2002, Airdrie have won just one of their ten home matches against Ayr. Four were drawn; the other five were lost.
The Angus derby between Brechin City and Arbroath at Glebe Park could be crucial at both ends of the table. The home side are chasing the final play-off place, while the visitors are aiming to move away from tenth. Brechin have the best home record outside of the top two, both in terms of points earned (21) and goals scored (25), but they did lose against Stranraer last time out. Arbroath, meanwhile, have just one win in their last 17 league matches and have taken two points from their last 12 on the road. They have not kept a clean sheet in any of their last 12 matches against Brechin, a run stretching back almost four years.
Leaders Peterhead will aim to continue their impressive home form when they welcome play-off chasing East Stirlingshire to Balmoor. Jim McInally’s side are unbeaten in 15 home matches and are now just three from equalling the club’s best tally since joining the SFL (and five from equalling the division’s record). The Shire are unbeaten in four league matches and will be looking to make it five-in-a-row for the first time since the winter of 2009-10. Matches between these sides have tended to have a result one way or the other – there have been just two draws in 34 previous meetings, with Peterhead coming out on top 25 times. The Shire have not won on any of their last 15 trips to Balmoor, conceding 53 goals in the process. They did, however, win the last meeting between the sides.
Peterhead’s nearest rivals Annan Athletic are in action against play-off chasing Berwick Rangers at Galabank. Both sides are in good form – Annan have lost twice in their last 11 games, while Berwick have been defeated once in Colin Cameron’s six matches in charge. Berwick are unbeaten in their last five away games, the second longest run of any side all season. The teams have met 25 times in national competitions and are deadlocked on eight wins apiece, but Annan have won six and lost two of the last 11 meetings.
Today’s question comes from Stenhousemuir supporter Bill Carr of 10 King Road, Ipswich. He asks:
“Stenhousemuir have drawn their last five league matches, but what’s the club’s longest sequence of consecutive draws? Surely their current run must be some kind of record?”
Yes, that’s a wonderful question, Bill. Thanks for getting in touch. I’m sure it’s something that’s kept dozens of people awake over the past week or so. Stenhousemuir’s current streak of five-in-a-row is indeed the longest run of league draws in the club’s history. Another draw with Forfar Athletic tomorrow and it will see the Warriors equal the third tier record of six draws in a row set by Stirling Albion in 1983-84. Albion’s sixth and final draw happened on 29 February 1984 – but for the fact it was a leap year, that would exactly 30 years ago tomorrow. The record was also equalled by Stranraer in 1999-00 and, interestingly enough, both streaks included draws with Stenhousemuir. Spooky!
Stenny will have to go one further than that and also draw with Dunfermline Athletic next weekend if they want to equal the Scottish league record of consecutive draws: John McClelland’s St Johnstone drew seven in a row at the tail end of the 1992-93 Premier Division season.
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.