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Thoughts from The Championship - 10/11/18



You really need to watch Andy Ryan’s miss from Dunfermline’s defeat to rivals Falkirk. It really is quite something.

(via: @timomouse / FalkirkTV)
— The Terrace (@terracepodcast) November 11, 2018

AJ under pressure at Dunfermline?
So many of Dunfermline's home games this season have ended with the sound of booing, so Allan Johnston may be immune to it now. But a derby defeat to Falkirk was the lowest ebb of the Pars' season so far, one in which they've managed just one win and two goals in seven league matches at East End Park. No wonder the fans are revolting (no, not in that sense).

This one might have turned out differently had Andy Ryan not missed the mother of all sitters for the home side in the first half, and what can any manager do when all his forwards seem to have suffered a collective slump in form? However, the bottom line is that Dunfermline have promotion playoff aspirations. And too often at East End Park the script has been familiar - plenty of possession but a lack of end product, a few decent chances spurned, and a sucker punch at the other end.

Whether the board feel the same way as the fans is unclear. After all, this is only the club's third year back in the second tier after AJ got them out of their League One nightmare. And in such a competitive league, it could be a lot worse - just look at Falkirk or Partick Thistle. He may not be on borrowed time yet, but with the support at least he has used up all previous goodwill.

Ross County and Dundee United are the two best teams in this league
In years to come, Dundee United fans may thank their lucky stars that Ross County thumped them 5-1 last month and brought about the end of Csaba Laszlo. The transformation under Robbie Neilson has been stark and United have four wins and a draw under his leadership, including something of a statement win in Dingwall.

That's not to say they overwhelmingly deserved the victory - far from it, in fact. But having scrambled their way in front through Paul Watson the visitors defended without panic and refused to buckle under pressure, an outcome that would have been unthinkable a short time ago.

There seems little question that United will compete strongly for that automatic promotion slot. But on the evidence of this encounter so will Ross County.  When the two sides play each other here again on 6 April 2019, it could well be something of a title decider.

Not for the first time, Mark Ridgers rescues ICT
Mark Ridgers deserves most of the plaudits for ending Caley Thistle's crazy run of seven consecutive draws; the goalkeeper's penalty save from Blair Spittal meant that Tom Walsh's goal proved decisive. It was Ridgers' second save from the spot this season, with the first coming against the same opponents in Inverness. This comes just a week after a wonder save from Billy Mckay in the Highland derby.

It was Ridgers' seventh league clean sheet of the season and his fourteenth in the twenty-four league games ICT have been unbeaten. Whilst his backline aren't too shabby either, Ridgers has been outstanding for the whole of 2018 - not bad going for a journeyman goalie who, at 28, is at his tenth club. An Inverness native, it seems that he has found that there is no place like home.

Do Alloa stick or twist in January?
As the only part-timers in this league, weren't Alloa supposed to finish bottom by some way? Clearly they didn't get the memo as they now find themselves out of the bottom two after winning at Cappielow. Far from being punchbags or even simply being overpowered by stronger opponents, they show no signs of being out of their depth at all. It is increasingly conceivable that they could survive.

That said, the sides below them - Falkirk and Partick Thistle - are certain to bring in significant reinforcements in January to save their season. Should Alloa try to do the same? Can they afford to (or not to)? And, if some of their best players keep performing like this - Iain Flannigan is the obvious standout - will they be able to keep them, or will full-time clubs sweep in?

Ach, one gets the feeling that Jim Goodwin and co aren't going to concern themselves with those sort of worries. They#re just going to enjoy this while it lasts.

Connor Murray shows up Frizzell's failings
Kudos to Connor Murray for coming off the bench at Ayr to grab a late equalizer for Queen of the South. The winger's opportunities have been few and far between but the club obviously see something in him, given that he'll be 22 in March but they've still kept him around. But a penny for the thoughts of Adam Frizzell, left sitting on the bench yet again. The little Kilmarnock loanee would seem on paper to be a better option as an impact sub and yet he's played only 85 minutes of football, all as a replacement, since moving south temporarily. That's pretty unimpressive for a guy who had 24 Premiership starts to his name when still a teenager. Frizzell also had a lousy (and injury-hit, to be fair) loan spell at Livingston last season but it looks increasingly like the 20 year old, previously considered such a prospect at Rugby Park, is stagnating.

Lawrie Spence has ranted and spouted his ill-informed opinions on Narey's Toepoker since September 2007.  He has a life outside this blog.  Honestly.

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