Monday, March 16, 2009

Scottish Football Roundup

With only a few more rounds of games to go before the frankly absurd league split in April, Celtic and Rangers took some time off from putting even more points between them and the rest of the league by competing in this years Scottish League Cup final, also knowns as the 'Co-operative Insurance Cup'.

As always between these sides, it was a mighty stramash with the two goals that won it for Celtic coming late into extra-time. Darren O'Dea got proceedings off to a start when he looped a header over Alan McGregor in the 94th minute, and Aiden McGeady settled the matters from the penalty spot after he was brought down by Rangers' Kirk Broadfoot, who was also sent off for his troubles. The win earns Celtic their 14th League Cup (only 11 wins behind Rangers now in this competition) and some much needed good news for manager Gordon Strachan who had been on the receiving end of criticism from his own fans.

And while the cats are away, the mice do play. With neither of the Old Firm in league action, the teams chasing those all-important third and fourth places where having their day out. Of the teams that make up the top-half of the table, only Aberdeen won this weekend. They eased their way past Hamilton Accies, Chris Maguire getting on the scoresheet on the half-hour mark in a game played in blustery north-east conditions. Aberdeen remain undefeated at home since October of last year, while for the Accies their terrible away form continues - they've recorded only two wins on the road so far this season. They'll be wanting to get themselves into the top half of the table to assure themselves of survival in their first season back in the top flight, but their performances in the league so far have surprised many.

Third-placed Hearts lost out in the Edinburgh derby, going down 1-0 to a Hibernian side desperate to regain some form and remain in the running for that sixth spot come the league split. It was an exciting encounter, with both teams reduced to 10-men before the break. Hearts keeper Janos Balogh was first to the dressing room, if not the ball, as he slid in on Stephen Fletcher - missing him by as much as 30 feet if the Hibs forums are to be believed.

Not long afterwards the red card made its second appearance of the day as Hibs defender Souleymane Bamba was dismissed for bringing down Christian Nadé on the edge of the box. The winning goal for Hibs came courtesy of Stephen Fletcher; the Scotland international attempted a header but he only managed to get his shoulder to it, looping the ball over Balogh's head and into the net. Hearts remain in third place, while Mixu Paateleinen can enjoy his first ever Edinburgh-derby win since becoming manager of Hibs.

Elsewhere, Dundee United's slump continues as they lost 2-1 away to Motherwell. United's season had been going well, the Terrors recovering from a woefull start to the season to fight their way into third spot. But with only three wins from their last ten matches (and all of those coming against teams from the bottom half of the table), United have slipped back to fifth spot, level on poins with New Firm rivals Aberdeen.

For Motherwell, the season is finally beginning to pick up after a poor start and early elimination from European competition. John Sutton fired the Steelmen into the lead on the half-hour, Francisco Sandaza equalized for United after the restart, but the points where secured when Dave Clarkson, Motherwell's top scorer this season scored with a header from close range.

Terry Butcher continues to do what he does best, namely saving teams from impending relegation. Since taking over at Inverness Caley Thistle, he's steered the club out of the relegation spot with wins over Hibs, Rangers and, now for the second time, Kilmarnock. All the goals where scored in the first half; Foran and Black put Caley 2-0 up with only 20 minutes played. Simon Ford got a goal for Killie just before the break.

That's it for now, results and table are here.

If there's a topic about Scottish football you would like us to cover, whether it's a team or player profile, a season in review or just anything to do with the game north of the border, drop us a comment and we'll get right on it!

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