Scottish Premier League action round-up – September 2009

The top of the Scottish Premier League has a slightly unfamiliar look to it, as after an unbeaten month of October, Hibernian have usurped Rangers and now occupy second place behind Celtic. As well as their excellent recent form, the Hibees also have the Scottish weather to thank, as Rangers were unable to play a game in hand against Dundee United due to a torrential downpour which meant the match was abandoned at half-time.

Hibs have won two of their last three games and now look the most likely team, if any, to break the Old Firm hegemony over the top two places. A late Abdessalam Benjelloun penalty gave them a win in their early October game against Kilmarnock, setting up a greatly anticipated encounter at Ibrox a week later when they travelled to play Rangers. A win would have put Hibs above the Gers but this looked unlikely for the Edinburgh side when Chris Boyd gave Rangers an eighth minute lead. In what was one of the most entertaining ties played in the SPL so far this season, Hibernian battled back into the game and there were numerous chances at both ends as well as a healthy scattering of bookings. Just after the hour mark Anthony Stokes scored one of the goals of the season, flicking the ball over the top of the Rangers defense, before volleying low into the corner of the net. Both sides had chances to win the game but the draw meant that the Glasgow club held on to second place for a week at least.

Rangers’ well-documented financial woes have seemingly not impacted on the playing side of things and they have also enjoyed an unbeaten October following their victory over Celtic. An away win at St Johnstone preceded their game with Hibs and before their game with Dundee United was abandoned they were leading 1-0 at half-time. Dundee United had probably shaded the game with the better chances, but the rainfall of biblical proportions meant the referee had no choice but to call a halt to proceedings in the interest of player safety.

This means Hibernian will remain second for another week at least following their 2-0 home win over Aberdeen on Saturday. In a match featuring some wild tackling by the Dons, Aberdeen had to play the final half an hour with just nine men, following the sendings-off of Maurice Ross and Chris Maguire. Despite this, the away side dug in and almost rescued a point, even creating chances to win the game themselves. However, with just two minutes to go, Hibernian’s two-man advantage finally told with Colin Nish heading the Edinburgh side in front. Unsurprisingly, the Aberdeen heads dropped, and Hibs were able to add a second before full-time when Liam Miller’s fierce shot took a wicked deflection off a defender and into the net. Credit must go to John Hughes, who, despite limited resources the loss of Steven Fletcher to Burnley, has the Hibees competing with the big boys.

Despite flattering to deceive for much of the season, Celtic find themselves top going into November. Having drawn 0-0 at home to Motherwell, the Hoops travelled to Hamilton a week later and only narrowly emerged 2-1 winners following Mickael Antoine-Curier’s late consolation. The Accies had an excellent chance to draw level when James McArthur went one on one with the Celtic keeper Lukasz Zaluska during on 88, but his resulting shot could only find the palm of the Polish shot-stopper. With their poor form in Europe and a surprise CIS Cup exit at home to Hearts, the critics were beginning to round on the Bhoys, but Celtic looked slightly more convincing at the weekend with a 3-0 home win over Kilmarnock. Aiden McGeady put Celtic a goal up after 13 minutes before a rare Giorgios Samaras header doubled the lead just after the half-hour mark. Youngster Niall McGinn sealed the points late in the second half with his first ever goal for Celtic.

Falkirk are still propping up the league following a miserable October, in which they were only able to gain one point in what was their fourth 0-0 draw of the season – this time against the underachieving Hearts. This result was sandwiched between two 3-1 defeats to St Mirren and St Johnstone respectively, with the latter being the Sants’ first home victory of the season. Brian McLean put the Saints in front after just ninety seconds, but Falkirk equalised after Carl Finnigan volleyed home shortly after half-time. The Perth side took the points, however, with two goals midway through the second half from Chris Millar and Murray Davidson.

Perhaps the surprise result of last weekend was Hamilton’s 2-0 victory away at high-flying St Mirren. The Paisley club had been enjoying a decent run of form with a victory at Falkirk followed by a six-goal thriller, ending with a home point gained against Motherwell. The Accies have been playing well yet haven’t been picking up points. Their narrow defeat to Celtic was preceded by a more than respectable draw at Tannadice against Dundee United. Hamilton then, will be relieved to have picked up their first home victory with goals from Marco Paixao and Martin Canning.

Hearts have endured a miserable run of form and find themselves eighth in the table having yet to win away from home. They have had a winless October with draws against Aberdeen and Falkirk and a defeat at the weekend against a Motherwell side who find themselves fourth after an unbeaten run of four matches. Aberdeen and Dundee United are both searching for some consistency, but United could have gone third had they beaten Rangers by two goals in their abandoned match. Kilmarnock and St Johnstone are the two other teams needing some points and will nervously be looking over their shoulders as they hover precariously over the relegation position, even though it is one Falkirk threaten to make their own.

Full Results

Saturday October 17, 2009
Aberdeen 1-1 Hearts
Celtic 0-0 Motherwell
Dundee United 1-1 Hamilton
Falkirk 1-3 St Mirren
Hibernian 1-0 Kilmarnock
St Johnstone 1-2 Rangers

Saturday October 24, 2009
Aberdeen 0-2 Dundee United
Hearts 0-0 Falkirk
Kilmarnock 2-1 St Johnstone
Rangers 1-1 Hibernian
St Mirren 3-3 Motherwell

Sunday October 25, 2009
Hamilton 1-2 Celtic

Saturday October 31, 2009
Celtic 3-0 Kilmarnock
Hibernian 2-0 Aberdeen
Motherwell 1-0 Hearts
St Johnstone 3-1 Falkirk
St Mirren 0-2 Hamilton

Sunday November 1, 2009
Dundee United A-A Rangers (Match abandoned due to waterlogged pitch)

Scottish Premier League action round-ups

Month 1 – August, 2009
Month 2 – September, 2009
Month 3 – October, 2009

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