Andy Harrow of The Terrace Scottish football podcast picks four big games to look out for across the SPFL this weekend.
Motherwell v Inverness Caley Thistle – Ladbrokes Premiership
It’s 11th versus 12th at Fir Park on Saturday as Inverness travel to Motherwell in the final round of matches before the split. A win for Richie Foran’s men would move them to within a point of Well but they will need to improve on a record of one victory in 21 league games. Motherwell, meanwhile, are on a run of one success in 10 but would move seven points clear of Inverness with a win. A tense and fascinating 90 minutes awaits.
Last encounter: Inverness CT 1-2 Motherwell (28.12.16)
Second-half goals from Craig Clay and Scott McDonald gave Well a valuable three points in the Highlands. Greg Tansey pulled one back in the 90th minute but the hosts didn’t have time to fashion an equaliser. The result left Inverness bottom, on goal difference from Hamilton, while Well moved up to seventh and within a point of the top six.
Hibernian v Queen of the South – Ladbrokes Championship
The mathematics are straightforward. If Hibs win on Saturday, and Falkirk fail to beat St Mirren, the Championship title will make its way to Easter Road. It is no foregone conclusion that Hibs will triumph at the weekend though – they have won only one of their last five league games – drawing the other four – and play a side who are unlikely to be affected by promotion or relegation issues and can enjoy their visit to the capital, where they won in the Betfred Cup in August.
Last encounter: Queen of the South 0-1 Hibernian (28.01.17)
John McGinn scored the only goal on a wet January weekend. It was Hibs’ fourth league win in a row and was achieved in relatively comfortable circumstances. Queens – who had picked up seven points from three games prior to this defeat – only rarely threatened, with McGinn turning in the winner after good work from James Keatings.
East Fife v Peterhead – Ladbrokes League 1
Nowhere else in Scotland are the promotion play-off positions as closely contested as in League 1. Alloa, in second, look certain of a spot in the top four but five teams still remain in the hunt for the final two berths. East Fife, in fifth, sit only two points behind Brechin in fourth and will see Saturday as an opportunity to put further pressure on the Glebe Park side. For Peterhead, relegation remains a concern. They are three points from safety, but only two points from the automatic relegation spot after 10 games without a win.
Last encounter: Peterhead 1-1 East Fife (25.02.17)
It was honours even at Balmoor as the hosts came from behind to pick up a point. Kevin Smith headed East Fife ahead on 49 minutes but Jordon Brown nodded Peterhead level with 20 minutes remaining. The draw extended the Methil men’s unbeaten league run to 10 games, although it was ended in their following fixture at Alloa.
Stirling Albion v Cowdenbeath – Ladbrokes League 2
A stoppage-time equaliser salvaged a draw for Cowdenbeath at Edinburgh City last weekend but a Clyde victory meant they slipped three points behind their nearest rivals at the foot of the table. With only four matches remaining – and with title challengers Arbroath and Forfar to come in consecutive games – this weekend’s game could prove pivotal in deciding their fate. Stirling, meanwhile, have won seven of their last eight, igniting a promotion push in the process. They will need to win again to boost their hopes of pipping Annan or Elgin, who they face next weekend, to fourth.
Last encounter: Cowdenbeath 0-2 Stirling Albion (04.03.17)
This result turned out to be the third of six consecutive victories for the Binos as they completed a Central Park double. Dale Carrick had an early penalty saved by Chris Smith and Ross Smith put Stirling ahead on 20 minutes. Sean Dickson clinched it with a terrific volley early in the second half of a game that went ahead on a heavy pitch following an inspection.