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Takeaways from the Championship - 15/9/18



Archibald running out of time to kickstart Thistle's season
You know that old adage about players coming back to haunt their former clubs? In Inverness it only worked in one direction. Sean Welsh is remembered rather more fondly at Partick Thistle than Mark Ridgers, who shipped eight goals in one and a half games at Firhill. Welsh netted a penalty against his former club while Ridgers saved one at the other end.

Ridgers' stop came from ICT old boy Miles Storey who had one of those days where nothing would go right for him. At least he put in a shift before being subbed, unlike Andrea Mbuyi-Mutombo whose return to the Highlands suggested that he has improved little in the two years since he left.

Mutombo and Storey were not helped by the constant chopping and changing by Alan Archibald as he tried to get his side back into the match. Storey started at centre-forward with Chris Erskine behind him, but after Thistle went behind both were pushed wide with Mutombo stuck up front - a decision which made all three less effective. Only when Erskine returned to the centre and Stuart Bannigan was brought on for the hapless Brice Ntambwe did they find a system which seemed to work. By then they were 3-0 down and it was far too late.

Clearly Archibald still has to find his best eleven. The loss of Tam O'Ware to injury doesn't help at the back - Niall Keown had a torrid time against the clever Jordan White - and the attack remains toothless whilst Souleymane Coulibaly remains in registration limbo. A solution is needed soon because Thistle have already lost too much ground in the promotion race as it is.

Ross County still aren't clicking
Ross County haven't found their strongest XI yet either. There was yet more tinkering from their management duo, who switched to a back three for the trip to Dumfries despite Marcus Fraser's injury with Ross Draper dropping into defence. That certainly didn't do any harm to the defence - Draper was arguably their best player as he contributed to a clean sheet - but County's problems were further up the pitch as they failed to muster a shot on target.

The decision to favour Declan McManus over Billy Mckay was a surprise given Mckay and Brian Graham had combined well in the last two matches, both victories, and McManus certainly didn't seem to click with his targetman partner in this one. It didn't help that the midfield didn't click either with Iain Vigurs and Don Cowie struggling to provide the creativity expected of them.

Still, they kept out Stephen Dobbie which is no mean feat. And it has set up a very tasty Highland derby next time out.

Fans losing patience with impotent Dunfermline
On the bright side, this was Dunfermline's first point at East End Park this season. That wasn't enough to satisfy the home support though, who got stuck in at the final whistle. Whilst Alloa are indeed a better team than they get credit for it was galling for the Pars that this was an even encounter where they struggled to create much even with a very attacking lineup.

Allan Johnston's side simply haven't recovered from losing Nicky Clark and Declan McManus in the summer, but they really should have. It's inexcusable that his three summer signings up front, Faissal El Bakhtaoui, Myles Hippolyte and Robbie Muirhead are yet to muster a league goal between them. Four games without a win since opening day, that win at Tannadice in August now feels like an anomaly.

Rumours of Falkirk's recovery are greatly exaggerated
So can Falkirk take encouragement from the fact that they were two up at half-time at Ayr (and deservedly so)? Or should they despair over a catastrophic second half collapse that saw them concede three in seventeen minutes, including the most farcial of winners?

Ray McKinnon certainly didn't hold back, complaining his players "simply didn't follow instructions" in the second half. His claim that "we overplayed the ball in midfield" appeared to be a thinly veiled dig at Andrew Irving, who gave the ball away to Lawrence Shankland for Ayr's first goal. But Leo Fasan's chocolate wrists should have kept out Shankland's shot from distance. This was the sort of goal struggling teams concede; Fasan's own goal which completed the comeback was a hundred times more so, as Lewis Kidd's goalline clearance hit his prostrate keeper on the back and flew in.

The bottom line is that these are the results and performances that are associated with teams that get relegated. And the Bairns, now pointless after five matches, are already beginning to fret about the prospect.

Will Fyvie's return do United more harm than good?
Fraser Fyvie's sub appearance against Morton was his first league game for Dundee United this year, and how they could have done with his quality in midfield at the end of last season and the beginning of this. His recovery from a cruciate ligament injury coincides with a hernia problem for Sam Stanton, but the duo should soon form the best central midfield pair in the division. The hope for United is that they can give the team a platform from which they can finally realise their potential.

But the fear remains that United are unsalvageable under Csaba Laszlo. While Fyvie saved them a point against Morton with his late equalizer it was barely deserved as the home side toiled and struggled to create much of note, not helped by the lack of width caused by Laszlo's insistence on keeping his full-backs as narrow as possible (to the chagrin of Arabs, the manager later claimed afterwards that it had worked effectively). A fit-again Fyvie will surely improve things, but the worry is that it will simply delay Laszlo's increasingly inevitable-looking exit.

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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