Another weekend in the SPL down, and more points to learn about the teams and players competing this year.
After 22 goals, Ross County’s unbeaten league record put to the sword, scoring droughts beaten by Aberdeen and Hearts and two stirring comebacks, here is five things we learned from SPL week seven.
1) Rab Douglas has still got it
The 40-year-old Dundee goalkeeper decided there was no better place than his old ground, Celtic Park, to produce a vintage performance between the sticks.
Douglas repelled nine of Celtic’s 11 shots on target in a game of almost relentless pressure from the hosts. The pick of the bunch was an diving penalty save to deny Scott Brown – Douglas’ second sport kick stop of the season.
Both managers heaped praise on the goalie after the match, with Neil Lennon jokingly threatening to grab his former teammate by the neck for making things uncomfortable for the champions.
2) Callum Paterson is a striker. Probably.
After hitting the net just once in their previous five games, Hearts opened the floodgates with three at Tannadice. Callum Paterson, the 17-year-old deployed in defence and midfield this season, grabbed a double after starting as the team’s central striker.
We can assume that the teenager will now have a settled role in the team. Signed two-years-ago by the Tynecastle club as an attacker, Paterson has experience of playing up front, on the wing, at full back and in central defence, at under-19 level.
3) Dundee United badly need Gary Mackay-Steven to be fit.
Peter Houston’s men have not scored since the talismanic winger went under the knife to try and cure a chronic knee problem. Without a win since the opening match of the season, the Terrors lack creativity without the former Airdrie youngster.
Johnny Russell’s industry and sharp finishing can only take the team so far without GMS running defences into the ground down the left.
Houston introduced teenage winger Ryan Gauld in the second period against Hearts, and he will be hoping the youngster can have a similar effect until the Scotland Under-21 cap returns.
4) Hibs’ old frailties have not completely disappeared.
Given a stern examination by Terry Butcher’s Inverness side on Saturday and the new-look Hibernian’s confidence evaporated faster than an Ivan Sproule dart down the wing.
Pat Fenlon’s men were cruising at 2-0 up in front of their own fans when Conor Pepper brought a goal back and the hard work and pressing of Caley Thistle had Hibs rocking.
Pragmatic Fenlon was not appointing too much significance to loss of confidence after the match. The Easter Road boss is pleading with the fans and players not to get too carried away, despite significant progress since the club’s awful performance of 2011/12.
5) Aberdeen can score goals.
The Pittodrie fans actually got up off their seats on Sunday. Three times, no less.
The last time the Dons netted at home was May 2, and you’d have to go back to April 7 to find them scoring three at Pittodrie. Against high flying Motherwell though there was penalty box finishes from Gavin Rae, Niall McGinn and Josh Magennis.
Aberdeen’s build up play has never been in doubt but the crucial final touches have been cruelly missing. While Scott Vernon still suffers from chronic luck in front of the posts, Craig Brown’s men will be feeling far more comfortable in their ability to get vital strikes after the team’s stirring late comeback to draw 3-3 with Well.
- Aberdeen 3-3 Motherwell: Josh Magennis nets injury-time equaliser for Dons
- Hibernian 2-2 Inverness CT: Visitors launch another capital comeback
- Celtic 2-0 Dundee: Hooper and Wanyama give Neil Lennon’s men three points
- Ross County 1-2 St Johnstone: Late header ends County’s unbeaten run
- Kilmarnock 3-1 St Mirren: Second-half brace sends Killie to victory
- Dundee United 0-3 Hearts: Callum Paterson at the double for Hearts
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