Championship Midweek Round-Up

Three matches took place this midweek in the SPFL Ladbrokes Championship.

Dumbarton 2-2 Queen of the South

In an evenly contested match at the YOUR Radio 103FM Stadium, neither team could be separated come full-time.

Stevie Aitken’s men had a good result on Saturday away to Dunfermline, while Queens suffered a poor loss at home to Livingston.

It was one of the Sons’ goalscorers from the weekend, Tom Walsh, who had the opening chance of the match six minutes in but his shot was saved by Alan Martin.

Lyndon Dykes had a shot saved by Scott Gallacher at the other end before Doonhamers defender Callum Fordyce put the ball in the net – unfortunately for the former Dunfermline defender, it was an own goal.

Calum Gallagher and Chris McLaughlin looked to build on the momentum built up through the opening goal but couldn’t double the hosts advantage before the evening got worse for Fordyce: the 25-year-old was forced to retire through injury just midway into the opening period, with Shaun Rooney coming on to replace the Queen of the South number four.

Connor Murray had a couple of efforts at goal before Dykes had another effort saved by Gallacher as Gary Naysmith’s men went in at the break on-top, but a goal behind.

It was an open game with both sides having chances. Within the opening 15 minutes of the second half, Connor Murray and Stephen Dobbie had shots for Queens while Mark Stewart and Tom Walsh tried to find a second for Dumbarton.

Chris Kane would come on for James McFadden as Naysmith pushed his side on to try find an equaliser. Dykes had a third effort but there was still no luck for Queens who struggled to take advantage of their good play.

Kyle Hutton had a dig at goal from outside the box but his effort was too high before both sides made changes. Andy Stirling came on for Callum Tapping in Naysmith’s final switch while Dimitris Froxylias was brought off for on-loan Ross County forward Greg Morrison to enter the field of play.

Just moments later and the Doonhamers had a great chance to draw level. Stuart Carswell fouled Kane inside the penalty area. The responsibility was put upon the experienced shoulders of Dobbie, who made no mistakes from the spot to tie the game all square.

Jason Kerr was the next to have a chance but couldn’t find the net for the visitors. It was now Aitken’s men on the back foot and with two changes left, he was quick to use them up. Christian Nade firstly, and then Alistair Roy came on for Mark Stewart and Calum Gallagher.

However, it was an earlier substitute, Greg Morrison, who looked to have scored the winner after he netted from close-range after being set up by Walsh with just under ten minutes remaining.

Moments later and it was 2-2 as the unfortunate Carswell scored the second own goal of the game. Queens continued to push forward in the closing stages but there was no winner forthcoming. Kane and Dobbie could not convert their late chances as Naysmith’s men fail to reach the top four, now sitting a point behind the promotion play-off spots.

Dumbarton, on the other hand, get another valuable and well-earned point in their quest for safety. They drop to 8th after Inverness’ win but are now six points ahead of Falkirk and twelve ahead of bottom side Brechin.

Attendance: 474

Inverness Caledonian Thistle 4-0 Brechin City

It was a comfortable home win for John Robertson’s side, who move up to seventh in the SPFL Ladbrokes Championship after tonight’s win.

It wasn’t all plain sailing however as it was the Angus club who started brighter. English striker Isaac Layne hit the post within two minutes as Darren Dods’ side looked for an early opener.

They were severely punished moments later though. Brad McKay grabbed the first on the night for Caley from a Liam Polworth corner after 8 minutes. Just 60 seconds later and John Baird doubled the Highlanders’ lead, slotting the ball past Graeme Smith.

Robertson’s full-time side were now in full control as Tremarco flashed a header wide. Then, Baird saw another chance go abegging as the keeper saved his effort. Left-Back Tremarco came close twice more within the opening 25 minutes but was foiled again.

Jake Mulraney was next to have a dig at goal but Smith was in the way not once, but twice, to deny the Englishman. Willie Dyer had a rare effort at goal by the visitors but this shot didn’t trouble Mark Ridgers at all.

Connor Bell; Jake Mulraney again and then Charlie Trafford – a Canadian internationalist – all had attempts to make it 3-0 before the break but the Highlanders had to settle for a two-goal advantage at the break.

Mulraney continued to try get his name on the scoresheet but no matter what he tried, he was unsuccessful in this regard. It wasn’t to stop Inverness though as Bell headed home from another Polworth corner to make it 3-0 early on in the second half.

Aron Lynas replaced Dyer due to injury to compound matters further for Brechin. The very small band of travelling City fans had very little to cheer about and it took 16 minutes of the second half to pass before they had their first shot of the final period of play. Connor McLennan, on loan from Aberdeen, couldn’t force Ridgers into a save as a rare opportunity went by for the visitors.

Aaron Doran and George Oakley were to come on for the hosts, as John Baird and Connor Bell took a rousing ovation from the home supporters as they made their way to the technical area at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium.

Brechin managed to get a foot-hold of proceedings as McLennan had a shot blocked before Layne had a chance which went past the post. Jordan Sinclair then came on for Liam Watt in a straight-swap for Dods’ men. Kalvin Orsi was the final sub of the evening for the visitors, replacing McLennan as City looked for fresh legs in the forward areas.

Tremarco had another headed chance but couldn’t make it four for the hosts, before Layne forced Ridgers into his first save of the night on 79 minutes.

Polworth tried his luck from a free-kick but couldn’t hit the target. Former Ross County winger Alex Cooper would be the final alteration of the evening, replacing the sprightly Mulraney down the right.

Finn Graham tried a shot from outside the area but it was too high before Cooper tried to get his name on the scoresheet. Firstly, a free-kick was off-target before Smith made another save to keep the scoreline down.

He was to be beaten for a fourth and final time late on, however, as George Oakley notched from inside the area after being set-up by Trafford.

Lynas and Cooper had late efforts but there are no more goals to report. In the end, a valiant effort by Brechin who were depleted in numbers – only being able to name 5 substitutes, and none of them being a goalkeeper. Inverness keep their good run of form going as they climb the table once more, rising above Dumbarton into 7th in the SPFL Ladbrokes Championship.

Attendance: 1,801

St Mirren 3-1 Livingston

It was 2nd vs 3rd at the Paisley 2021 Stadium on Tuesday evening and it was the Buddies who finally came out on top.

Craig Halkett had a shot blocked before Dale Carrick saw his header saved by Craig Samson as the visitors started the stronger of the two sides.

Kyle Magennis, Ian McShane and then Gavin Reilly had efforts as Jack Ross’ men built their way into the match after a slow start.

Cammy Smith then had a couple of attempts at goal before Nicky Cadden forced another save out of Samson, in an open, end-to-end, match.

Lewis Morgan saw a long-range effort fly past before the opener came. It went the way of Livi with Josh Mullin having a dig a goal which was saved by Samson. However, Carrick was quick to make the visitors positive start to the match count by prodding home from close-range to silence the Saints.

Liam Smith, Stephen McGinn; Morgan and Reilly all had chances to square the game up before half-time but the Buddies couldn’t profit as the Paisley side trailed at the break.

The then table-topping Lions roared into action at the beginning of the second half, as Samson was to work again with Mullin coming close to doubling the lead of the visitors.

It wasn’t long before Morgan had tamed their visiting opposition as the highly-sought-after midfielder fired home from outside the area after being set up by Liam Smith, following a corner.

This just opened the game up even more with Mullin, Liam Smith and then Magennis all having chances to score within 60 seconds of each other.

McShane shot wide before the lively Mullin was replaced just before the hour mark by Italian playmaker, Raffaele De Vita. Goalscorer Dale Carrick was also to make way for David Hopkin’s side, being replaced by Hearts loanee Nikolay Todorov.

Morgan was to become provider as Ross’ men took the lead for the first time. Having set up full-back Adam Eckersley, the former Hearts and Hibs man rifled home from inside the area with less than half of the second half to go.

Another striker was thrown on by Hopkin in an attempt to get back into the match. Dylan Mackin was brought on for winger Nicky Cadden in Livingston’s final throw of the dice.

Reilly and Todorov had chances prior to the third goal for St Mirren being scored. Declan Gallagher fouled Jack Baird inside the area, with Ian McShane slotting the ball past Neil Alexander to put the game beyond all doubt on 78 minutes.

Ross was determined to make sure his men didn’t surrender top spot so soon after fighting their way back into the match and was quick to change things with Gregor Buchanan coming on for attacking midfielder Cammy Smith.

Todorov had two more chances but the substitute couldn’t convert to give Livi hope. Stelios Demetriou came on to replace Kyle Magennis, with the youngster continuing to recover after an early-season injury.

John Sutton got the final few moments, coming on for top-scorer Gavin Reilly but was to have no time to make any impact. Alan Lithgow had the final effort at goal in injury time, but he was well wide with his shot which would have made it a nervy final minute or so of stoppage time.

Overall, a match keenly contested between two sides who are clearly high on confidence. It was a battle for the Buddies in the first-half who didn’t hit the heights they know they can. But, as soon as they scored their opener in this match, they seemed to take control and in the end, are probably worthy winners, as Ross’ men go two points clear at the top of the SPFL Ladbrokes Championship.

Hopkin’s men remain in third place, with the Lions in a healthy position 14 games into their return to the second tier of Scottish football.

Attendance: 3,177

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