Buidling Dreams Together


Talking Points: The Scottish Premiership

What you might have missed as the season nears its end


Dundee 1 St Mirren 3

What a job Stephen Robinson has done. Although not included in the 3 person shortlist for PFA Manager of the Season, the Northern Irishman has guided St Mirren to what could be their best finish since 1985. They are now on the cusp of the Europa Conference League 2nd round of qualifying, having not featured in a European competition for so long that their last appearance came in a competition that no longer exists, the Cup Winners Cup in 1987-88.

It is hardly a secret that St Mirren Park has been a fortress this season. With no real weak sides in the league this year (Livingston apart), winning almost half your games on home turf is no small feat and neither is a clean sheet in 41% of games in Paisley. In no small part underpinned by Alex Gogic, whose perfomances have made him a colossus in defence that is not immediately obvious as he stands at an unspectacular 6’1 (for a defender). The Cypriot international has bullied the best the Premiership has to offer and will relish the chance to do so against European calibre.

The Buddies are less successful on the road but, if anything, that makes defeating a top 6 rival away from home all the more impressive. Better yet, looking in control for almost the entirety of the game. Gogic had put a header wide early on but didn’t make a mistake this time as he took advantage of poor clearance. A defensive lapse allowed Scott Tanser to double their lead before some silky Mandron footwork before laying it off to Toyosi Olusanya ensured the 3 points would come home to Paisley. WHO did manage a consolation with a backpost header, but it was too little too late.


Celtic 3 Heart of Midlothian 0

Brendan Rodgers continues to evolve as a manager, noted in tandem with Roberto Martinez as a gaffer always looking for edges where others would not.

Recently, another facet to his game has come front and centre, his media mind games. Where Rodgers had often floundered in the past (his Liverpool days being a particular high/low point), he has seemingly turned a new leaf, embracing the power of the press as a weapon to destabilise the opposition. A few weeks ago, the manager noted that this is the period of the season in which they come alive, and have gone unbeaten since. Not too shabby.

Yesterday, following a 3-0 win, he claimed that his side ‘can have a bit of fun’ when they welcome Rangers in next week’s Old Firm. A win not only put the ball back in Clement’s camp, but the extra verbals gave it some backspin. Despite seemingly taking a backward step by returning to Scotland, it would seem Rodgers has in fact come a long way. Europe is the next frontier he must conquer.

Despite being Celtic’s bogey team this season, having given the Glasgow side two thirds of all league losses, the Jambos struggled to ever get a footing in this game. They did trouble Joe Hart early on but failed to convert into goals, Kyogo Furuhashi who had caught Reo Hatate’s ball in the box to open the score, soon doubled his tally and it was game over from then on. Zander Clark made some solid saves but could not keep Celtic out as Lawrence Shankland gave away a penalty in the box, which Matt O’Riley duly converted.

Given the form of his opposition, even a point might have been a bit much to ask for away from home for Stevie Naismith. Managing to limit the damage should numb the pain and the manager will hope his side can move on quickly and regain momentum in next week’s fixture against Dundee.


Motherwell 4 Livingston 1

Not so much circling the drain as having fallen in with one hand clinging on, Livingston could no longer continue to punch above their weight. With signings coming and going by the dozen each summer, David Martindale has been expected to work with an almost entirely new group and get them to compete in a league that leaves no room for error. Six seasons in the Premiership should be remembered as one of the achievements of the last decade in Scottish football but that will provide no relief for a despondent fan base.

There is a worry that struggles will not end here, with an incredibly competitve championship, the West Lothian side will not be considered the favourites to be promoted next season. Not helped either by the quality of players they will lose and will be able to recruit as a result of the drop.

Martindale has worked wonders, but it remains to be seen if he has in him to work another miracle.

Motherwell on the other hand got the job done where a few might have expected their minds to be on the sunny beaches of Boden Boo having neither Europe nor relegation to play for. No such luck for Livi on the day as Theo Bair put them to the sword.

The Canadian international opened his account with a penalty before Sam Nicholson scored from thunderous shot from a few metres outside the box. It was high scoring weekend for most of Scottish football and Bair ensured that Motherwell would follow suit, scoring their third with a header before Dan Casey added one of his own to make it four. Livingstone did leave with some form of pride, with Joel Nouble scoring a late goal.

With 15 goals this season, Bair might think he will best served continuing to develop under Stuart Kettlewell, who has gotten some tune out of him. With Georgie Gent and Blair Spittal around him, this summer could be a chance to continue building and push for a top 6 place next season.


Rangers 4 Kilmarnock 1

Killie have been fantastic this season and Derek McInnes has shown himself to be one of Scotland’s best managers. Unfortunately they were undone at Ibrox this time, left with one hand behind their back following Joe Wright’s red card for his inability to do just that. The afternoon had looked promising beforehand, having earned themselves a surprise lead with James Tavernier putting one past his own keeper. The captain’s afternoon got worse as he missed the penalty from the handball. Luckily Fabio Silva decided to have one his best games this season to level the score. Ben Davies, not a regular player in the squad this season, scored his first Rangers goal to regain the lead. Tom Lawrence scored a stunner to extend it before John Souttar sealed the points and gave the goal difference a helping hand.

With Celtic pressing on full steam ahead, there has been concern that Philippe Clement’s players do not possess that same ‘champion’ mentality. Tavernier and Conor Goldson are among those who seem to have shrunk in the face of this pressure. Clement branded Rodgers’ comments as ‘disrespectful’, saying that his players would also enjoy themselves during the fixture. However, with some uncertainty surrounding the future of key players such as John Lundstram has led to end of season that seems far from the honeymoon period following the Belgian’s arrival last year.

It is possible to believe that there are two camps when it comes to moments like these. The first, that results are all that matter and performances are irrelevant in the face of three points. The other, that performances can tell us something about how future games will play out.

Supporters of the latter position will argue that the Gers have struggled to look dominant in games despite their position in the league. Players sometimes look like they are not following the manager’s instructions and are lacking the zip that their rivals currently have.

Supporters of the former will want to boot that view out of sight and argue that the real test will be next weekend’s Old Firm. If Rangers can get it right then, the performances in recent weeks will have been vindicated.

Either way, it is all to play for.

For Killie, fourth will be some achievement despite the result today. They face a difficult trip to Paisley next week but the talent shown this season by Marley Watkins and Stuart Finlay at either end of the pitch will stand them in good stead against most sides in the league.


St Johnstone struggled once again, going down to a solid Aberdeen 1-0. Meanwhile Ross County jumped above the Perth side by beating Hibernian 2-1.