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Tuesday 18th August 2015

SPFL Team of the Week

Craig Fowler selects his latest SPFL Team of the Week in a 3-1-4-2 formation, with Partick Thistle striker Kris Doolan among those included.

Craig Fowler selects his latest SPFL Team of the Week in a 3-1-4-2 formation, with Partick Thistle striker Kris Doolan among those included.

Goalkeeper - Neil Alexander (Hearts)
An incredibly tough choice this week as forward players up and down the country ran riot. With few stand-outs, and no other men in maroon making it into the XI, it felt only right to recognise the achievements of the Ladbrokes Premiership leaders. Besides, it wasn't as if Alexander's contribution was negligible. Hearts were excellent in the first 40 minutes as they built up a 2-0 lead and remained comfortable throughout the second half despite letting Ross County back into the game with a soft penalty. However, the match might have been a different contest entirely were it not for Alexander's excellent save from Michael Gardyne in the first five minutes.

Right-back - Tony Ralston (Queen's Park)
With a defensive injury crisis to deal with prior to their derby match with Clyde, Spiders boss Gus MacPherson utilised his contacts to bring in some emergency reinforcements, one of which was the 16-year-old Ralston on loan from Celtic. From 90 minutes of evidence it looks like an inspired signing. The youngster showed great enthusiasm to get up and down the right-hand side all game, proving himself equally able at contributing to the attack as the defensive back-line. And it was Ralston's cross which eventually found its way to Jamie McKernon, whose 25-yard volley put Queen's Park ahead in their 2-0 victory.

Central defence - Lucas Tagliapietra (Hamilton Accies)
The no-nonsense Brazilian centre-back is fast becoming a firm favourite with the New Douglas Park faithful. On Saturday, he put in a man-of-the match performance in his side's dominant 4-0 victory over Dundee United. Dealing with everything that came his way, he played on despite a head knock that required treatment and, with the customary bandage around his head, he even nodded in Accies' second goal.

Left-back - Lee Wallace (Rangers)
Several Rangers stars from the 5-1 rout of Alloa could have made it into this XI and it's perhaps a little unfair on some of them that such strong performances came on a weekend where so many others shone in their position. If you want the most impressive display from a left-sided defender from this weekend, however, look no further than the Rangers captain. In this side for a second week running, it's fair to say that the tremendous form in Wallace since the beginning of this campaign mirrors the incredibly swift turnaround Rangers have enjoyed under Mark Warburton.

Right midfield - Kyle Wilkie (East Fife)
After a disappointing result on the opening day, East Fife's 5-0 hammering of Berwick Rangers will really give everyone associated with the club a lift as they can once again believe they're genuine title contenders. Wilkie was the hero on the day. Not only did he score twice, his dynamism and skill in the No 10 position gave the visitors no end of problems.

Central midfield - Scott Brown (Celtic)
Stuart Armstrong could have gained entry over his team-mate for his two goals in Celtic's 4-2 win over Inverness CT but, while the former Dundee United star may have found the back of the net, there's no doubting Brown was the man who ran the show. There's not much that can be said of the Parkhead skipper that hasn't been uttered already, he's just such a terrific two-way player. While he doesn't find the back of the net all that often, he is constantly instigating Celtic attacks, and his tenacity when the other side are in possession is unrivalled by any player in Scottish football. His worth was reinforced after his substitution when Celtic's performance dipped.

Defensive midfield - Andy Halliday (Rangers)
More than a few eyebrows were raised when Mark Warburton recruited a player whom everyone remembered as a winger at Livingston, then decided to use him as the holding player in front of the back four. Of course, Halliday is much more than just a screener, and with each game it becomes increasingly clear there is method in this plan. His composure and skill on the ball, not to mention his terrific passing, makes this new=look Rangers side tick.

Central midfield - Nicky Low (Dundee)
Paul Hartley's summer transfer activity keeps looking better and better. Having missed the first couple of games through injury Low, who arrived from Aberdeen in the pre-season, aided his side in their Dundee derby fightback before putting in a five-star performance against St Johnstone. His early corner was acrobatically turned in by James McPake before a terrific cross enabled Kane Hemmings to net the second. Aside from his assists, he was his usual tenacious, gritty, hard-working self in the middle of the park. He is this week's star man.

Left midfield - Joe Cardle (Dunfermline)
It's going to take some effort for any team to stop Dunfermline from romping to the Ladbrokes League 1 title this season. They carried on the sequence following 4-1, 5-1 and 6-1 wins with a 7-1 hammering of Cowdenbeath. Several players have been rejuvenated having suffered through the major disappointment that was the 14/15 campaign. But arguably no-one in the side seems to be enjoying their football as much as Joe Cardle, who could scarcely ask for a better start since returning to East End Park. The winger fired in a pair of excellent goals, one with each foot, to help the hosts rack up such an awe-inspiring scoreline.

Forward - Kris Doolan (Partick Thistle)
Performances like Saturday make you wonder how Doolan has never been a nailed-on starter for Partick Thistle since their accession to the Ladbrokes Premiership. His goals-to-games ratio is excellent and his all-round game is much more than just that of a poacher. Against Kilmarnock on Saturday he linked excellently with the midfield, worked himself into the ground and caused the opposing backline all sorts of problems with his skill and predatory instincts. He netted twice and on another day could have scored as many as four.

Forward - Faissal El Bakhtaoui (Dunfermline)
The Moroccan striker starred in this team in week one, then came very close to a place in week two. At this rate he's going to earn himself a permanent spot in this select XI. Once more the striker found the back of the net, twice, in the opening 10 minutes. His movement, pace and skill was something Cowdenbeath had no answer to, and this was after they had received fair warning by the same player who netted a double against them a fortnight ago.