If you put a monkey, a griffin, a rhino, a shark, a dragon and a crocodile into a bag and told them to settle their differences, there’s no denying that there would be drama.
Of course, if you did create this kind of real-life Pokemon you would be quite, quite insane, impractical and hugely unjust, but it’s difficult to argue that such an event wouldn’t at least raise the pulses a little.
This, essentially, is the thinking behind the bottom six in the SPL.
Put all of the teams scrapping for points in a confined space, let them go at each other and settle it the ol’ navy way: first one to die, loses.
Even in a match-week that contained a Glasgow derby, a clash between teams battling it out for a Champions League spot and two games with six or more goals, it was the matches at the bottom of the table that probably meant the most.
It is questionable as to why successful battles against relegation are compared to The Great Escape; a film in which hundreds attempt to break-out, 50 are executed and only three actually make it out alive. One can only suggest that saying “Dunfermline are hoping for a real Escape from Alcatraz” or “the Pars hope to complete the Shawshank Redemption” doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Indeed, a week ago and relegation seemed to be all but decided. Dunfermline were six points behind Hibernian, and 11 goals worse off. Jim Jefferies team had failed to win any of their previous “must-win” games and had a defence leakier than a Welsh lunch menu.
This weekend, at the 17th time of asking, Dunfermline won their first home match of the season, defeating Aberdeen 3-0. A double from Andy Kirk and a Joe Cardle goal meant that the Fife side would at least ask some questions of Hibernian during the run in. They used “apply the pressure”. It was super effective.
On Sunday Hibs travelled to St Mirren Park, or New Found Love Street as it totally should be called, and reacted to the pressure the same was as Arnold Schwartzenegger did at the end of Total Recall; all bulging eyes and gasping. As if Kenny McLean’s winning goal wasn’t bad enough for Pat Fenlon’s team, player of the year Lewis Stevenson got sent off and will miss the now vital trip to Pittodrie in midweek.
By this time next week it is quite conceivable that Dunfermline and Hibernian will be level on points going into the penultimate game of the season, against each other, at Easter Road. Given both teams have home records considerably worse than your average hobo, hosting the match is hardly an advantage. Equally, if Dunfermline lose at Inverness at Hibs win in the north east, barring a huge goal swing, it’s all over for Jim Jefferies' team.
Clashes between Rangers and Celtic almost always grab headlines like Ferocious-ness grabbed notes, but it was an understandably muted affair at Celtic Park on the park Sunday. The Champions quite comfortably defeated their rivals by 3-0 thanks to goals from Charlie Mulgrew, Gary Hooper and even one from the lesser-spotted Kris Commons.
Off the field there was a particularly odd atmosphere at the match, with both sets of fans vocal for very different reasons. Celtic supporters were unsurprisingly exuberant because they won the game, the title and no end of bragging rights, while the Rangers support again showed a cohesion and unity that belied their precarious position.
It was almost like one of the weird episodes of Tom and Jerry when circumstances dictate that they have separate adventures. They’re alright episodes, but the best ones are when there’s a bit more at stake and a bit more hell breaking loose.
Motherwell and St Johnstone haven’t hit their early season heights in recent weeks, but Stuart McCall’s side took a significant step towards Champions League football by giving the Perth side a 5-1 shoeing. Michael Higdon, Nicky Law, Jamie Murphy and two from Henrik Ojamaa meant that Liam Craig’s penalty was for nobody but statisticians.
The result was all the more significant because Dundee United were held to a 2-2 draw by Hearts. Twice United went in front, thanks to Willo Flood and Gary Mackay-Steven, and twice Hearts replied, from Rudi Skacel and Arvydas Novikovas.
All of which means that Motherwell will have to look through their drawers to find their passports if they better Dundee United’s midweek result. Unless, of course, they draw a team from Ireland or Wales, in which case driving licences will probably do.
There can be few fixtures in Scottish football that guarantee goals more than a Kilmarnock and Inverness match. In the four matches between the two clubs this season there have been 21 goals, the latest being a 4-3 win for Killie that will no doubt be described as a “thriller”. If you are from the Alan Hansen school of defensive thinking, you could certainly argue there was a good dose of comedy in there too.
Indeed, there has been 27 matches between the two in their history, and never has the match ended 0-0. On only two occasions has there been less than two goals and we’re now up to 13 games that have featured four or more goals. STAT ATTACKZ!!
Sudden goal machine, James Fowler put Killie ahead, but Billy McKay replied with two to give Caley Thistle a half-time lead. Michael Nelson equalised for Kenny Shiels’ team and Dene Shiels scored two more in the final two minutes. Steve Williams got a final-minute consolation for Inverness.
• Celtic’s (87 points) lead at the top of the table is now 21 points from Rangers (66).
• Ally McCoist’s side need to find one more victory to secure second spot ahead of Motherwell (58).
• The weekend’s fixtures seem to have reduced the scrap for third place to a straight fight between the Fir Park side and Dundee United (53). St Johnstone (50) and Hearts (49) look to be too far behind to catch up.
• Kilmarnock (43) stretch their lead as top of the bottom from Aberdeen (39) and St Mirren (39). Inverness (32) are mathematically safe.
• Hibs (27) are only three points ahead of Dunfermline (24). Goal difference may yet be key, and Hibernian hold a seven goal advantage over their opponents.
- St Mirren 1-0 Hibernian: Relegation danger mounts for Hibs after defeat
- Celtic 3-0 Rangers: Comfortable win for champions in final derby of season
- Kilmarnock 4-3 Inverness CT: Killie come from behind to triumph
- Motherwell 5-1 St Johnstone: Stuart McCall's men strengthen grip on third
- Dunfermline 3-0 Aberdeen: Pars end home hoodoo to close gap on Hibernian
- Dundee United 2-2 Hearts: Novikovas' late strike earns visitors a point