Matchday 22 saw the Premiership sign off in style before the winter break. Partick…
Matchday 29 was quite the weekend in the Scottish Premiership with no fewer than three derbies taking place. Goals from Scott Allan and Jamie Maclaren sent Hibs on their way to a 2-0 win over Hearts in the Edinburgh derby, Hamilton overcame Motherwell 2-0 at New Douglas Park and on Sunday, Rangers and Celtic met in an exciting 3-2 win for the visitors at Ibrox.
As always, the weekend’s results have had an impact on our manager power rankings and things are taking shape nicely as we head into the final stretch of the season. There’s still plenty of opportunity for chopping and changing before the end of the campaign but let’s take a look at the latest updates.
The weekend’s action began at Easter Road on Friday night with an eagerly-anticipated Edinburgh derby. A tight first half saw neither side give much away before Hibs raised their game and found the net twice. Remarkably, Craig Levein’s Hearts didn’t manage a single shot against their rivals over the ninety minutes.
Hibs were the pre-match favourites so Lennon gained a solitary point for the win, keeping level with Brendan Rodgers on 0 overall. Levein, meanwhile, avoided losing any more points but is still rooted to the bottom of our rankings with -10. The former Scotland boss will need to work minor miracles if he’s to avoid finishing the season dead last in our rankings.
Most punters would’ve expected St Johnstone’s trip to Dens Park to be a tight affair but the Saints swatted Dundee aside in impressive fashion at the weekend, with Neil McCann’s side being dismantled 4-0 in the end. One from Blair Alston, a brace from Chris Kane and an own goal from Jordan Piggot gave Tommy Wright’s side a comfortable win before the two sets of coaching staff clashed in the Dens Park dugouts following the final whistle.
Six points separated the two managers before Saturday’s match kicked off but they now find themselves drawing level in third place with an overall score of +10. Wright gained three points for Saints’ emphatic win with McCann being docked the same amount. Both face difficult fixtures in the next round of games though; Wright’s side host Hibs on Friday night, while Dundee face a difficult trip to Pittodrie on Saturday.
The second derby of the weekend kicked off at New Douglas Park when Hamilton Accies hosted Stephen Robinson’s Motherwell. Marios Ogboe opened the scoring after 11 minutes before David Templeton extended his good run of form and scored his sixth Premiership goal of the season.
Martin Canning gained three points for the result as the hosts were expected to lose the game, while Robinson was docked three in our table. More pertinently for Canning, though, Accies are now eight points clear of twelfth-placed Ross County in the Premiership. The win gives Canning an overall tally of +20 – still some way behind runaway leader Steve Clarke, but also five points clear of Alan Archibald in third. A few more wins could help cement Canning in second spot in our rankings.
A trip to Rugby Park isn’t the easiest venue for a debut at the moment but Stuart Kettlewell and Steven Ferguson can leave with their heads held high despite losing the game. Killie raced into a 3-0 lead – courtesy of goals from Lee Erwin, Kris Boyd and Eamonn Brophy – before a spirited, late County comeback brought the score back to 3-2, but it wasn’t to be for the Staggies.
Clarke gained a single point for the win as Kilmarnock were the pre-match favourites, giving the 54-year-old a massive haul of +34. It seems unlikely that anyone can catch the former West Brom boss now – he’s running away with our power rankings and rightly so. When Clarke was appointed last year Kilmarnock looked dead certainties to be relegated – now, they’re comfortably in the top six and look set to stay there after the split.
Aberdeen travelled to Firhill on Saturday having won the previous eight encounters between themselves and Partick Thistle so Derek McInnes will be disappointed to have only left with a draw. Graham Shinnie missed a golden opportunity in the first half but in all honesty, chances were at a premium throughout the game. Not that Alan Archibald will mind though – there’s now four points between the Jags and County at the foot of the Premiership table.
Archibald was rewarded with two points for the unexpected draw, keeping up the chase on second-placed Canning. The Thistle boss’ overall score of +15 is only five points behind Canning – if results were to go his way, Archibald could overtake the Accies boss next weekend. McInnes, on the other hand, was docked two points for the draw, leaving the Aberdeen boss on +5. Wright overtook McInnes at the weekend, but the 46-year-old is still within touching distance of Robinson above him.
The most hotly-anticipated fixture of the weekend was always going to be Sunday’s Old Firm and, for the neutrals at least, it didn’t disappoint. Five goals and a red card later, Celtic left Ibrox as 3-2 winners but it could’ve easily been a draw had Alfredo Morelos not contrived to hit the post from two yards out with just a couple of minutes left to play.
Celtic were the bookies’ favourites going into the clash so Brendan Rodgers gained a point for the win, while Murty remains as he was on +2. Rodgers is still tied with his compatriot Lennon – should Hibs win at McDiarmid Park on Friday night, Rodgers will need to win at Fir Park on Sunday if he’s not to fall behind.