Scottish Premier League Review 28-08-11

Rangers reclaim top spot, Celtic get back to winning ways, and Hearts draw first blood in the Edinburgh derby.

Dunfermline 2-4 Motherwell

Motherwell moved back to the top of the SPL, for 24 hours, with a dramatic win over Dunfermline. Motherwell dominated the first half, goals from Michael Higdon and Jamie Murphy making it 0-2 for the visitors at the interval.
New Well signing, Tim Clancy, was handed an unexpected debut after Shaun Hutchinson missed the squad through a hamstring injury.
Dunfermline introduced striker Andy Barrowman just after the break in the hope of getting back into the match. Motherwell continued to press for a third and were rewarded in the 55th minute. Poor defending from the Pars allowed Humphries to cut through the middle of their defence and fire a low shot from 14 yards that hit the post and rebounded into the net.
Dunfermline introduced youngsters Ryan Thomson and Paul Willis for Gary Mason and Paul Burns in an attempt to up the tempo.
The Pars clawed their way back into the match in the 69th minute when a 30 yard shot from David Graham ricocheted off the back of team mate Joe Cardle and wound up in the back of the net.
In the 88th minute, Motherwell were caught on the break. Cardle picked up the ball in his own half and keeping his composure well, unleashed a low drive on the edge of the box, which deflected off Stephen Craigan and found the net.
Dunfermline pressed for the equaliser in the dying minutes, but Motherwell were to have the final say. Humphry found Law unmarked inside the box, Law squared for the incoming Higdon, and Higdon stabbed it home from 3 yards out.

St Johnstone 3-3 Dundee United

Peter Houston’s Dundee United netted twice in the last ten minutes to secure a point in a six goal thriller in Perth.
Barry Douglas gave United the lead in the second minute. Johnny Russell collected the ball on the edge of the penalty area and squared it for Douglas who fired hom.
Francisco Sandaza leveled from the spot in the 34th minute after Russell kicked former team mate David Robertson in the face,
Three minutes later, Saints were in front, Liam Craig firing in a 22 yard free kick.
On the stroke of half time, United defender Garry Kenneth mis-kicked a clearance that fell to Sandaza, who kept his composure to finish.
Saints could have had a couple more after the break, and really should have had the match wrapped up. Both Sheridan and McKay should have done better with shots from close range.
With ten minutes remaining, United seemed to wake up from their slumber. Mackay-Steven drilled a shot straight at Enckelman, but the Saints stopper let it spin out of his hands and into the net. United equalized with a header from Gunning in the 83rd minute, and from there on in, it was St Johnstone who were hanging on. Both Dalla Valle and Robertson came close to finding an unlikely winner for United in what was a very entertaining match.
Inverness Caledonian Thistle 2-1 Kilmarnock

Inverness finally recorded a first win of the season with this 2-1 victory over Killie that was overshadowed by Aaron Doran’s dislocated shoulder. The Irish winger will be out until Christmas.
Greg Tade’s 25th minute opener was cancelled out by Killie’s Dean Shiels in the 35th minute. The Northern Irishman curled a superbly struck low shot beyond the Caley keeper from 25 yards.
Graham Shinnie netted the winner for Butcher’s men in the 89th minute, firing into the bottom right of the net from deep inside the Kilmarnock penalty area.

St Mirren 0-2 Celtic

Nothing less that a win would do for Neil Lennon, currently going through the worst patch of his short managerial career. Two defeats and a draw don’t usually spell disaster for a manager, but when you’re in charge of Celtic, it’s considered a crisis.
Lennon, and Celtic, got back to winning ways with this Gary Hooper inspired performance that will give Celtic some breathing space after a fortnight to forget.
Lennon made two changes to the side that lost 3-1 midweek, Samaras and Ledley dropping to the bench, with Forrest and Stokes coming in.
Hooper opened the scoring after 6 minutes, Stokes and Commons worked a one-two on the edge of the box before squaring to Hooper, who drilled the ball past Samson.
Celtic doubled their lead in the 12th minute. Ex-Celt Paul McGowan made a calamitous pass straight to Hooper’s feet inside his own box. The Englishman could hardly believe his luck, but made the most of the gift by keeping his cool and slotting home for his second.
St Mirren came more and more into the game, showing some flashes of the type of play that has won them great praise this season, both Hasselbaink and Teale coming close.
It was Celtic, however, who looked the more likely of scoring as the match wore on, both Ki and Forrest forcing fine saves from Samson, who’s performance kept the scoreline respectable.

Rangers 2-0 Aberdeen

Ally McCoist, at long last, recorded his first Ibrox victory as Rangers manager, as the Govan men survived a second half Aberdeen onslaught to go back to the top of the SPL.
Captain Steven Davis gave the Gers an early lead when he chipped in a fine ball from Nikica Jelavic in the 15th minute.
Aberdeen’s chances were kept to a minimum in the first half. Kari Arnason had a shot around the half hour mark that barely troubled McGregor, and that was about the extent of Aberdeen’s ambitions.
Rangers replaced Dorin Goian on the stroke of half time, the Romanian suffering from a broken toe, and introduced Steven Whittaker.
Rangers started the second half on the back foot, some poor defending leading to Scott Vernon’s low strike that McGregor did well to stifle. Bocanegra almost headed into his own net when clearing an Aberdeen cross, McGregor parried it away only as far as the incoming Richard Foster, who was unlucky with a diving header from eight yards out.
McCoist introduced new signing Alejandro Bedoya for the last 20 minutes, Kyle Lafferty coming off.
In injury time, Rangers wrapped it up from a set piece. Davis’ free kick from 25 yards was fumbled by Dons keeper Gonzalez and Naismith was there to pounce.

Hearts 2-0 Hibernian

Hearts drew first blood in this season’s first Edinburgh derby, a result that leaves their city rivals astray at the bottom of the table.
Ryan Stevenson gave Hearts the lead after 39 minutes. Jamie Hamill found Stevenson unmarked, the striker calmly stroked in home.
It was 100 mile an hour stuff, as is de riguer for these occasions, and Ivan Sproule picked up a yellow card for a challenge on Danny Grainger.
Hibs came close just before half time when Gary O’Conner nodded wide from Sproule’s cross.
Colin Calderwood introduced new signing Leigh Griffiths and forward Akpo Sodje after the break in an attempt to get back into the match. Griffiths immediately picked up a booking for a sliding challenge on Hamill.
As the game wore on, there was a feeling of ominous familiarity for the travelling Leith support. In the 70th minute, their worst fears were realised when Andy Webster got on the end of Hamill’s corner to put the game beyond a weary looking Hibs side.


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