Friday, 18 April 2014

After The Split

In the reorganisation of Scottish Football, one thing that stayed with the 12 team top league was the split.  This season with the championship race over and Hearts confirmed as the team dropping into the ridiculously named “Championship”, there seems to be nothing left to play for until the Scottish Cup Final in mid May.  Far from it.

McGowan & Hanlon tussle during Hibs 0-0 draw at Greenhill Road on November 23rd
With Celtic’s lap of honour around the top six sides, the other teams in the top six are essentially playing for places while Aberdeen and Motherwell are fighting for European places.  Aberdeen are in pole position to take the runners up spot ahead on Motherwell.  While both sides meet on the last day of the season – in what television hopes will be a shoot out for second place – the nature of the top six means that every fixture will be hard.

Most attention though will be on the fight to avoid the play-off place in the bottom six.  St Mirren’s unlikely (at half time at least – has any Saints fan seen a worse defensive display since the Coughlan era?) win against Motherwell shot them into the pack.  Partick Thistle now sit in the play-off place, but are only a point behind St Mirren and Ross County.  Even Seventh Place Hibernian are not safe.  They are four points ahead of Partick Thistle but are the anti-form team.  Hibernian’s last win came at home to Ross County on 15 February.  At that point Hib’s were 7th on 31 points, a point behind St Johnstone in sixth and 7 behind fifth Inverness.  Since then they have only picked up three points and fallen 14 points behind St Johnstone.

Looking at form, St Mirren’s game with Hibernian this weekend could well go a long way to determining who goes down.  The less than mighty Bud’s have only picked up 7 points in the last 10 games, Hibs have only picked up 6 out of 30.  A St Mirren win would put them level on points and put even more pressure on Hibernian.  However if Hibernian win, it could just be the turning point for Butcher and Hibs.  After this weekend the pressure on Hibernian does not stop, next for them will be Hearts next Sunday, they will be hoping to take Hibs with them into the “Championship” – with St Mirren away to Partick next Friday night. 

Form also dictates that Kilmarnock are probably best placed to stay out of trouble, and may well be out of the reckoning quickly.  I also think Ross County might have enough to get themselves clear as well, but it would not surprise me to see Partick, St Mirren and Hibernian still in danger come the final day.

My prediction at the start of the season was that Hib’s would occupy the playoff place.  What I didn’t foresee was that Hibs would be seventh going into the post split fixtures, with a chance of occupying that 11th position.  For people who say that the top flight of Scottish Football is missing Rangers.  The green shoots at the New Firm, the race to avoid the playoff place, the League Cup and the upcoming Scottish Cup Final is proof that there is more to Scottish Football than the one-upmanship of the forces of evil and darkness from Glasgow.

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