Scottish Premiership Round-Up: Race for second spot hotting up

ScottishPrem

There was a full card at the weekend, Aberdeen followed up their League Cup success with another win, as did their rivals for the second spot Dundee United and Motherwell.

Dundee United beat a beleaguered Hearts side at Tynecastle on Friday night, reinforcing their bid to finish second in the table.

United were made work for the points as Hearts showed some steely resolve. Callum Paterson and Ryan Stevenson both tested Cierzniak early, but could not find a way past the Pole. United didn’t settle but both Rankin and Robertson had long-range efforts on MacDonald’s goal that went well wide. Dundee United took the lead 10 minutes before the interval somewhat against the run of play. Good play down United’s left with Dow playing Robertson in, the left-back cut the ball back from Brian Graham to finish from close range in order to give United a half-time lead.

Going a goal down didn’t discourage Hearts. They continued to battle on, but it was United who had the better of the chances. Robertson went on a rampaging run down the left, ending with him forcing MacDonald into a top one-handed save. MacDonald had to be on his toes once again. A superb flowing move involving Graham and Ciftci ended with the ‘keeper having to be at his best to deny Armstrong. With 20 minutes left United deservedly went two up. Ciftci curled a magnificent effort past MacDonald who could do nothing about it. In the closing stages Danny Wilson halved the scoreline as he headed home Sam Nicholson’s corner but it was too little, too late,

Motherwell also won as they fight for the right to finish best of the rest. The Steelmen beat Ross County in comfortable fashion.

Motherwell couldn’t find a way through in the first half, they created a few good chances to do so. Hutchinson couldn’t connect with an inviting cross, before McFadden’s flick was well kept out by the right hand of Brown. Jordan Slew responded as his effort went flying past the post after McManus misjudged a long kick up the park.

Only two minutes into the second half the ‘Well found themselves in front, Iain Vigurs’ long-range effort was only parried for McFadden to finish on the follow-up. They went two up when Moore shot, again Brown made a hash of it allowing Sutton to double the lead on the hour. It took County until the 78th minute to conjure some sort of comeback, Brittain’s low effort across the goal hit the base of the post. They did get on the scoresheet, when Songo’o converted Carey’s corner. This led to some pressure as the Staggies looked for an equaliser – Songo’s effort was the closest they came but his shot from inside the box went wide of the target.

Aberdeen followed up their League Cup win with a less than impressive victory over Kilmarnock.

It looked like Aberdeen were still drunk from their celebrations the previous weekend. They suffered a setback allowing Rory McKenzie to run unchallenged and set up their top goalscorer whose low shot on the turn beat Langfield. It was the former Rangers man’s 19th goal of the season. Straight after that, Cammy Smith hammered his shot wide, before Rooney equalised in similar fashion to Boyd, he received the pass from Nicky Low before finding the net on the turn. Aberdeen failed to take a lead into the break as McGinn squandered chances made for him, via Smith and Rooney.

Killie’s only effort in the second period was an effort from Boyd, which Langfield held easily. The Dons finally took the lead when Reynolds’ cross found its way to Ryan Jack, the Scotland Under-21 man poked the ball beyond Samson to send the 14,000 crowd home happy.

Meanwhile Celtic continued to chalk up the wins, as they are ever closer to winning the title, this time with a routine victory over St Mirren.

It was St Mirren who had the better of the opening stages, McGowan forced Forster into action, and Steven Thompson had an effort blocked. Van Dijk missed a header for the home side, before Griffiths rounded Kello but to his displeasure seen, his effort cleared off the line. As it looked to goalless heading into the break, Stefan Johansen opened his Celtic account with a thunderbolt of a header that Kello could do little about.

Henderson went close after the interval but his shot was held, although it spurred Celtic on as they doubled their lead just after the hour, Stokes fed Griffiths who ran onto the pass and dispatched a right-foot shot beyond Kello. Celtic had further opportunities to add to their lead but were unable to do so until the 90th minute, Stokes made it three to add some gloss to an easy afternoon.

St Johnstone confirmed their top-six place with a comprehensive victory over a 10-man Hibs side struggling under Terry Butcher.

Hibs almost took the lead, when Frazer Wright’s back header had to be turned behind by Mannus.  Haynes then fired an effort wide, before a set-play gave the home side the lead. The young goalkeeper Murdoch flapped at the corner allowing MacLean to finish from close range. McLean almost doubled the lead, he met Wotherspoon’s crossed but shot over from two yards.

Not long into the restart Murdoch was busy again, he had to deny Stevie May, but he was beaten by one of his own with 55 minutes on the clock. O’Halleron got to the byeline, cut the ball back on hand was the Hibs left-back to embarrassingly finish beyond his own ‘keeper. Murdoch had to keep out efforts from Wootherspoon, May and MacLean. The match ended on a sour note for Hibs when Haynes was sent off for a reckless tackle on Wotherspoon.

Inverness bounced back from their cup final defeat beating Partick in a close match in the Highlands.

Partick started the better and should’ve been in front, but Taylor fired straight at Dean Brill. Taylor was foiled by his fellow Englishman again after some neat play between himself and Chris Erskine. The match was level at the break.

Caley woke up after the break with Greg Tansey going close with a long-range effort, then when one-on-one with Gallagher could only fire over the bar. McKay put an effort over the bar, before scoring the only goal of the game. Shinnie’s free-kick was headed on by Ross Draper, the ball found its way to McKay in the six-yard box and the Ulsterman finished with ease to ensure the points stayed in Inverness.

RESULTS

Hearts 1-2 Dundee Utd

Motherwell 2-1 Ross County

Aberdeen 2-1 Kilmarnock

Celtic 3-0 St Mirren

St Johnstone 2-0 Hibs

Inverness CT 1-0 Partick Thistle

STANDINGS

140326 - Scottish Premiership

 

Table courtesy of Fifa.com

JamieCurrie

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