hislopsoffsideagain

05: Full Members
  • Content Count

    735
  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won

    29

hislopsoffsideagain last won the day on July 10

hislopsoffsideagain had the most liked content!

Community Reputation

578 Excellent

About hislopsoffsideagain

  • Rank
    Super Sub
  • Birthday 02/09/1984

Profile Information

  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Inverness

Contact Methods

  • Website
    http://nareystoepoker.blogspot.com
  • Twitter
    @NareysToepoker

Recent Profile Visitors

4,265 profile views
  1. Hi folks, For those who haven't seen it mentioned on Twitter, the club will be providing live audio commentary from Saturday's game. A link to the feed should come up on the club's Twitter account about 10 minutes before kickoff. Hopefully it'll be another good result!
  2. Scotland's Euro 2020 campaign was pretty much a disaster. The only thing good about it is that it's over now. It's now twenty-two years - nearly two-thirds of my life - since Scotland made it to a major tournament. That's eleven qualifying campaigns we've failed in. But was the most recent debacle the worst of the lot? My own football awakening was in 1991, aged seven. I'm not old enough to remember Italia '90, but I am old enough to remember what came after it. So let's rank, and reminisce about, the last fifteen Scotland qualification campaigns from Euro 92 to the present. This brings back some fond memories. And some not so fond ones... Start View the full article
  3. So yeah, this tweet about Rangers' finances got some serious traffic and clogged up my mentions for a couple of days. Rangers' losses by season: 2012/13 -£14m 2013/14 - £8.1m 2014/15 - £7.5m 2015/16 - £3.3m 2016/17 - £6.7m 2017/18 - £14.3m 2018/19 - £11.3m Total for last five years - £65.2m— Narey's Toepoker (@Nareystoepoker) November 1, 2019 Is it worth noting that not one of however many hundred people who saw that tweet noticed the mistake? Apparently I'm not the only one who can't count to seven... The numbers there though. Ooft. You don't have to be an accountant - and I'm not - to know that companies don't publish accounts late on a Friday evening if they want attention drawn to them. Though last year Rangers published their accounts on a Wednesday evening during a Rangers match, so I suppose this is a step up from that. It seems like the distraction has largely worked. Dave King appeared to be channelling the Iraqi Information Minister when he claimed "the financial year under review was again a positive one" but this line appears to have been swallowed by the Scottish media like a piece of, say, succulent lamb? The only piece of criticism I've seen was on Forbes.com. I don't think too many Scottish football fans check that out. (Of course, if you were cruel you could say the same about this site!) Anyroad, my mentions were filled with fans of other clubs claiming imminent liquidation, criticising the SFA for letting this happen, and suggesting that UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules were being broken. There was also one apparently genuine Rangers fan who seemed to think Dave King is the Messiah. People of a certain vintage might remember an Only An Excuse sketch from when Livingston went into administration all those years ago, where a reporter was asked to explain the circumstances in layman's terms and described it as a "help ma boab situation". So is it Help Ma Boab time down Govan way? Let's see. Turnover is up This is the big positive. Not only did income increase, but it shot up dramatically by 63% to £53.2m. The main reason for this is the club's run to the Europa League group stages; income from European competition totalled £14.1m. So is the wage bill, but that's probably okay First team wages have more than doubled in two years, up to £23m. Overall staff costs are £34.4m which is still well behind Celtic (£56.6m) but is four times that of Aberdeen. That sounds like a huge figure but the wages-to-turnover ratio is 64.6% which is pretty acceptable. Those legal fees I initally misread this figure as £3.6m and thought "how on earth do you spend £3.6m on lawyers?" By picking a fight with Mike Ashley, that's how. But in fact its a £3.6m increase in legal fees, so the amount is actually higher than that. Crumbs. The bloke at Forbes says the full figure is £9m but that sounds insane and I couldn't find that in the accounts. The saga of Rangers' kit deal with Hummel ain't over yet and seems likely to cost the club a decent seven-figure sum when it is finally concluded. What debts are there? "As at 30 June 2019, there are interest-free, unsecured loans with investors amounting to £10.3 million, other commercial loans of £3.0m, whilst the Group also has finance lease agreements totalling £1.2 million". This is hard for an amateur like me to decipher. What we do know is that Rangers have got by for years on soft loans from directors which have then been converted to equity further down the line. From what I can tell - and I may be talking out of my arse - it seems like all the soft loans from directors have been converted to equity since June 2019 via a share issue. The flipside is that they also state that there have been another £9.7m of investor loans in the last few months. This shares to equity thing has been ongoing throughout the King era. How long can they keep repeating it? Meanwhile we know a loan was taken out with financial house Close Brothers in February 2019; this is likely to be the aforementioned 'commerical loan'. The £200,000 of interest payments up till June are presumably related to that loan, which would suggest a pretty high interest rate. This is the problem with not being able to get a loan from a bank. A ten million quid hole If the Turnover part is the big positive for Rangers fans, then this is the overwhelming negative. "At the time of preparation, the forecast identified that the Group would require £10.0m by way of debt or equity funding by the end of season 2019/2020 in order to meet its liabilities as they fall due. The first tranche of funding is required from investors in November 2019". Ten million quid. For what its worth, in the last few seasons the accounts have also stated extra funding would be required - I believe it was £4.6m in last year's, and £3m the year before. Ten million quid. And that will be despite the expected income from Rangers' 2019/20 campaign, which includes another qualification for the Europa League and another £14m+ from that. One of King's family trusts, Laird Investments, is apparently going to cover the shortfall. Given that during the Takeover Panel saga King described himself as "penniless" because of a lack of control over family trusts, this is worth a raised eyebrow. That said, another one of his family trusts, NOAL, has converted £8.4m of loans into equity in the recent past so perhaps he is putting his money where his mouth is? Financial Fair Play Are Rangers breaking UEFA's FFP rules? The honest answer is "buggered if I know". The received wisdom is that losses of more than 30million Euros over three years are grounds for sanction, and they would be over that limit. However the FFP regulations are a nightmare to understand, which makes me suspect there are loopholes relating to the amount of money spent on infrastructure etc. With European football so critical to the business plan I find it impossible to believe that the club haven't thought of this. Looking ahead It feels like Rangers took a huge - even reckless - gamble on progress in Europe last season and this. Lord knows where failure would have left them. But lo and behold Stevie G managed to navigate about a million qualifying rounds and got Rangers access to the Europa League pot of gold. The thing is that they've had to take the same gamble again this year. And again they've reached the Europa League. Yet despite that they're still £10m short. Presumably that's because of the £11.5m spent on the likes of Ryan Kent and Filip Helander. Moreover, the turnover figure for 2019/20 is unlikely to be particularly higher than 2018/19 - why would it be? And yet with transfer fees and probably another hike in the wage bill, losses will be higher, unless they sell off prize assets like Alfredo Morelos. And that's before the whole Mike Ashley/Hummel stuff. So the fear is that the board are taking an even bigger and potentially dangerous punt - on Gerrard delivering the title and access to the untold riches of the Champions League. Pulling that off would solve any financial issues at a single stroke. And if they fail? There are plenty out there who would love to see an administration event, But whilst the Big Hoose of cards looks pretty fragile it has done so for several years without actually collapsing. Rangers still look like a financial basket case. But people keep putting money into the basket. And one other thing... Rangers had a £1.6 million impairment charge for player transfers in 2018/19, which is another way of saying the club signed someone who was pish.— PriceOfFootball (@KieranMaguire) November 1, 2019 Eros Grezda, I assume? Lawrie Spence has whinged about Scottish football on Narey's Toepoker since September 2007. He has a life outside this blog. Honestly. View the full article
  4. Sure, Shankland should have been off for elbowing McCart (I've seen the TV footage). Sure, Keatings missed a sitter at 0-1, heading wide of an open goal from 3 yards out. Nevertheless, that was a reality check. For long periods we didn't look like we belonged in the same league as United. Our midfield is a huge problem. Carson and Trafford (and Vincent) don't lack effort but they are rotten in possession. With no chance of them playing a killer pass teams can sit in, concentrate on denying Keatings space and wait for us to punt a high ball at White which he will probably lose (on the occasions he wins it, no one is ever looking for the second ball). God, we miss Welsh. United just looked much more streetwise. The threat of Shankland is enough to induce panic - at the first goal both McCart and Tremarco flung themselves in front of his shot, which left McMullan in space on the right. Rooney got his feet all mixed up and stuck the centre into his own net. He really wasn't the same afterward. Walsh looked bright when he came on but Storey in contrast was dreadful and gave away a stupid penalty with a petulant, unnecessary trip. Not very professional. By then Clark's goal had already killed us off. He put his foot through it but it beat Ridgers at his near post and I feel the goalie should be saving that. After that our heads were gone and it could have been five. Hard to know where we go from here. Aside from starting Walsh we aren't exactly blessed with other options.
  5. Hi folks, just a wee note to confirm that the club will again be broadcasting live audio commentary from Sunday's game. Same drill as previous - a link to a Periscope feed will go up on the club's Twitter account 5-10minutes before kickoff. (For the second half, there'll be a new link put up). Hopefully there won't be any horizontal rain like there was at the Alloa game!
  6. Hope the online commentary was better than the result. If you thought the first half was poor viewing, try watching it from that gantry opposite the main stand where, having made the rookie error of sitting on a wet chair, I got hit by rain, wind and then sideways rain. We did have the offer of an umbrella but had I used it I'd have probably sailed across the pitch like Mary Poppins. Having started shivering by 3:30, there was enough second half action that, combined with me standing up, I nearly got the feeling back in my toes. I feel like we got caught cold (ahem) at the start. Having seen TV footage of the opener it's a cracking finish by Buchanan but he finds ridiculous space in the box because after he played the one-two with Cawley (who had escaped McCart with his movement), Rooney strangely chose to go towards Cawley rather than track him. A bit of a shambles to be honest. We dominated possession after that but after MacDonald saved smartly from MacGregor a few minutes later we barely created anything before half-time. The second period was lit up by that extraordinary Tremarco goal. He was out on the right having taken a corner that was cleared back to him, and he almost casually wrapped his left foot around the ball and it fizzed in the far corner off the junction of bar and post (for maximum aesthetic effect!). That's the club's goal of the season competition finished for 2019/20. After that we pretty much pinned them back though last-ditch defending kept us mostly at bay. However we looked like we'd won it when Tremarco whipped in a pearler of a cross and White outmuscled the defender at the back post to head home. Inexplicably though we switched off and blew two points. It seems like either Andy Graham - who has a great goalscoring record from set plays - either wasn't identified beforehand as someone for the watching or simply the players failed to keep tabs on him. He missed a free header at 1-1 when Alloa used a training ground routine to get him unmarked at a corner, and when they got a long throw opportunity he was the inevitable target. However he wasn't challenged for the flick on...and everyone was statuesque except Trouten who had the freedom of the box to smash it home for an equalizer. Massively frustrating as we would have gone top with the win. I felt we struggled badly to break down a very compact and defensive Alloa side; we lacked width and our central midfield pair were not nearly ambitious enough; both Vincent and Trafford spent too much time going sideways and backwards. The introduction of Carson and Keatings did help things in that regard but we missed Welsh's intelligence in possession and Walsh's wing play. All in all a frustrating afternoon, though at least we haven't lost ground on those around us. And at least I'm warmed up now!
  7. Hi folks, for those who haven't seen it on Twitter, the club will be broadcasting live audio commentary again from the Alloa game. It's the same process as previous - a link should come up on the club Twitter feed shortly before kickoff to a Periscope link. Fingers crossed for a good game and a good result (and for none of the gremlins that plagued us during the QOS game last month). Feedback appreciated.
  8. Another international week endured, and the national team came remarkably close to accomplishing an impossible task - increasing the apathy already surrounding them. It started in Moscow on Thursday night, where Scotland survived a first half onslaught mostly through luck rather than ability and then started the second period with purpose. And inevitably their best fifteen minute spell of the match culminated in a goal...for Russia. The subsequent collapse felt like just another humiliation to add to the list. But in the cold light of day it could be recognised that the team are considerably better organized than under Alex McLeish. Unfortunately, when one of your centre-backs is from the bottom end of the English Championship and the other might not even get a game for Aberdeen when teammates are fully fit, you are still going to get pumped by the Lukakus, De Bruynes, Golovins and Dzyubas of this world. Artem Dzyuba vs Charlie Mulgrew was a grossly unfair matchup at Hampden last month and yet somehow this was even worse, a footballing Zangief up against a guy who looks like he's temporarily taken off his denim shirt and acoustic guitar in order to play. It tells you something that Steve Clarke, confident enough to cap several of his former Kilmarnock charges in previous matches, thought that Stuart Findlay would fare even worse than the hapless Mulgrew and Mikey Devlin. When in the aftermath of that defeat I put it to the Twitterverse to suggest their strongest Scotland XI its worth noting that nobody went with either Mulgrew or Devlin as part of their lineup. I'd go with the majority picks of John Souttar and Scott McKenna, though it must be noted that this is a duo with great potential but who are still a long way away from where we need them to be. Ditto Findlay, Craig Halkett, Declan Gallagher and whoever else you can think of. And until Scotland solve this centre-back problem then they will always be up against it. Perhaps Clarke could - should - have protected them better with his midfield, though it should be remembered that a screen of Kenny McLean and Scott McTominay also got the runaround in Brussels. Finding the right balance in midfield remains a challenge; only John McGinn The Human Whirling Dervish appears to be a player for all seasons and all opponents. At what point does the manager have to conclude that picking your best playmaker, Callum McGregor, is no use if you can't get possession? But, if Clarke is still entitled to the benefit of the doubt, perhaps he is looking at the bigger picture - that the game in Russia mattered not a jot and that our World Cup Final is in March, the Euro 2020 playoff semi-final at Hampden against an opponent who will be closer to our level. Given the lack of preparation time at international level, there is certainly an argument that concentrating on your lineup and system for that game, and potentially the playoff final after that, is far more important. Which is fine as long as the hammerings don't destroy the confidence of the players or the fans. The capitulation in Russia was obviously concerning from that point of view. At least the players went about their business professionally against San Marino, though John McGinn's hat-trick against such abysmal opposition justifies only slightly more applause than putting one's own socks on in the morning. Still, it was a thumping win with no scares, no consolation goals conceded and despite dreadful conditions which added an element of interest and amusement to proceedings without hindering the home side. The twenty thousand - which hopefully included a lot of kids who haven't yet had their souls destroyed from watching Scotland for the last several years - who pitched up during a monsoon at least got to enjoy a victory and lots of goals. The official attendance was at least far higher than that which was expected a few days earlier, but a ticket price of £30 for a game like this raises significant questions about the SFA's priorities. It's clearly in the interests of the home team to get as many fans into the stadium as possible, and in the long run increasing interest and excitement in the national team can only be a good thing - look at the positive effect the success of the Women's Team has had. But prices like that stink of nothing more than trying to fleece over-loyal Tartan Army footsoldiers, which is a recurring theme over the last decade or so. What is the point of the national team in the SFA's eyes? Is it just to make money over the short-term, or is it about something far bigger? If it's the latter then it's no surprise that the product on the pitch is just as unambitious and small-time. If they have even a modicum of sense (don't hold your breath) they will try and cram as many folk into the ground for the Kazakhstan game as possible - hopefully a convincing win on the back of a victory in Cyprus. Then with spirits lifted, and five months having passed since the last competitive defeat, they need to do the same, charging buttons if necessary, for that playoff semi. For that is the get out of jail free card, where Scotland can pull itself out of this deep hole just (!) by winning two matches. Pull that off and all will be forgiven and forgotten. Fail, and it's back to oblivion for the indefinite future. Lawrie Spence has whinged about Scottish football on Narey's Toepoker since September 2007. He has a life outside this blog. Honestly. View the full article
  9. Why would McCall want to leave this behind? Ayr United are in glorious form right now. Ian McCall said himself afterward that their first half performance at the Indodrill was as good as any he'd ever managed. Alloa were completely outclassed, unable to cope with United's passing and movement in open play or their physical presence at set plays. If anything, the 4-0 half-time score flattered the home side. As their victory over Dundee United last week showed, this sort of performance is currently the norm for Ayr, currently behind the Terrors only on goal difference. Any fears that they might have hit their ceiling last season have proven unfounded; if anything the loss of Lawrence Shankland has encouraged other players to lift their game. Frankly, this team are not only still on the up but they are credible title challengers at this point. Why, after four and a half years, would McCall want to chuck this for the team that's bottom of the league? Why would McCall want to take this on? Of course, McCall feels he has unfinished business at Firhill; his departure in 2011 after nearly four years was because of his need to deal with a gambling addiction. That said, I don't remember Thistle fans shedding many tears over his departure after three straight seasons of mid-table finishes in the old First Division... In the meantime, I wonder if he might get a bit of a shock when he takes off those red-and-yellow-tinted specs. Gary Caldwell's claims, a few days after his dismissal, that "the groundwork has been laid to challenge for promotion" were utterly ludicrous. Whilst some of the deficiencies that showed up in their crushing defeat by Dunfermline are due to low confidence and morale - which a good manager will fix - the squad itself was built by Caldwell to try and fulfil his delusion that Thistle could play like Roberto Martinez's Wigan. That's about as far away as you can get from McCall's idea of how football should be played. Add in the off-field uncertainty about finances and takeovers - how would this international consortium feel about having McCall as manager, and how would McCall feel about being made to fill his squad with Barnsley youth players? - and this feels like a heck of an undertaking. At the moment Thistle have 'this season's Falkirk' written all over them, though if anyone can turn this around it's Ian McCall. Arbroath run out of steam again It's a bit cliched but it's also true. One down to part-time opposition at home, the week after a defeat, the Tannadice crowd on their backs - this was exactly the sort of match Dundee United would have lost last season. Whether Robbie Neilson has put some steel into them or it's just because they have Lawrence Shankland, they dug themselves out of a hole and proved to the other sides in this division, as well as themselves, that this is not the Dundee United team of the last three seasons. That said, they were fortunate to still be in the match - Josh Campbell hit the post at 1-0 - and also fortunate enough to be playing Arbroath. Dick Campbell blamed a "lack of professionalism" for the two late concessions and he was right, but not in the way he meant. The Red Lichties' achilles heel remains the fact that they are not professionals; they inevitably run out of legs in the last quarter of matches and it showed here, just like it did at Inverness and at home to Partick Thistle. Their hopes of staying up would be massively boosted if Campbell manages to convince them to hit the treadmill before (or after, in the case of binman Bobby Linn) going to their day jobs. Signing Dorrans doesn't solve Dundee's big problem Graham Dorrans should, fitness permitting, be a fine signing for Dundee. He should stroll it at this level. But we said the same thing about Kane Hemmings as well, and he was again a substitute for Dundee at the weekend. That's because the Dark Blues are playing better with only one up top, with Danny Johnson currently keeping Hemmings and another talented forward, Andrew Nelson, out of the side. Dorrans should be a starter soon enough. But, like centre forward, central midfield is not a position of need for James McPake. Shaun Byrne and Jamie Ness were signed in the summer (and neither will have been cheap), Paul McGowan remains capable and teenager Finlay Robertson has been outstanding. Meanwhile Dundee again had to rely on the erratic Declan McDaid as a wide option, Jordan McGhee as a centre back and Jack Hamilton in goal. This does not smack of good planning. One can't help feeling that their prospects would be much improved if they had signed a vaguely competent defender instead of so many midfielders and strikers. Welsh walks all over Queen of the South Queen of the South actually went to the trouble of coming all the way up to Inverness from Dumfries on Friday, but their weekend away in the Highlands was essentially over by twenty past three on Saturday. Two up by that point, Caley Thistle switched to cruise control after that and whilst they only sporadically looked like landing a knockout punch they were easily able to deflect any attempted blows from the visitors. It wasn't a great spectacle but I imagine managers love matches like this when their team looks so confident and comfortable. It helps to have a midfielder who exudes that confidence and comfort in receiving and giving possession. Step forward Sean Welsh, making his first start since April after yet another spate of injuries. Welsh fired Inverness in front with a terrific strike from outside the box, but came into his own after Tom Walsh doubled the advantage. I think Welsh lost the ball once, in the 75th minute. Otherwise he was always either on the ball, casually twisting away from pressing Doonhamers before starting another attack, or looking to get it either from a teammate or by tackling an opponent. It was an utterly dominant performance, one that Caley Thistle have got used to since he came north. The worry with Welsh is always his fitness - he missed the promotion playoffs last year because of a broken foot - but if they can keep him from breaking down Inverness could well sustain their solid start. Lawrie Spence has whinged about Scottish football on Narey's Toepoker since September 2007. He has a life outside this blog. Honestly. View the full article
  10. First off, an apology for those who were trying to listen to the live commentary. Unfortunately we had a broken audio cable, which we didn't notice till half-time. So we were jabbering away for 45 minutes and no-one was able to hear us. To be honest, we'd just spent most of the time raving about Sean Welsh... As for the game, that was a stroll in the sunshine. Welsh's goal was a cracker, whilst Walsh got a fortunate break of the ball but finished brilliantly. After that we pretty much controlled the game, rarely breaking out of third gear but also rarely looking threatened. Had our strikers been particularly good today (that White miss in the second half?!) that could have been another 5-0. The back four were all terrific today. Has it got to the point where we stop going on about how good Rooney has been, as if its some sort of surprise? Both the goals came from him getting forward down the right flank and he defended well again. As for Welsh, I think he gave the ball away once, in about the 75th minute. He absolutely strolled it and I thoroughly enjoyed watching him in action. Matches like this are not always entertaining, but the manager must be delighted. Dominant and confident without really breaking much of a sweat. Long may it last.
  11. There are lots of factors at play here. For a start, the dropoff in income compared to being in the Premiership is huge - the difference in prize money, TV money, sponsorship opportunities and attendances (both home and away) is enormous. I'm pretty certain that most of the full-time clubs in our division either made significant losses (us, Dundee United, Partick Thistle) or relied heavily on handouts (Ross County, Dunfermline, QOS, Morton) to get by. Unfortunately the nature of things is that if you spend beyond your means and don't get promoted then you're in financial trouble, but if you balance the books you're probably at risk of getting relegated to League One and losing further income. Moreover it's all very well complaining about poor attendance but the fact is that people clearly would prefer to spend their hard-earned cash in other ways. Cost, apathy, inconvenience - for whatever reason people aren't coming to games and no other club has found a magic fix to this problem other than success on the pitch (which as stated elsewhere didn't exactly lead to a hike in our crowds either). The bottom line is that the club is not currently sustainable without investment from outside (I say 'investment' but it's basically handouts) and we're not unique in that respect. The difficulty is finding someone wealthy who is willing to waste their money on such a venture. That I suppose is what the EGM is about.
  12. Hey folks, happy to confirm that we'll be broadcasting free live audio commentary of Saturday's game. It'll be the same process as before, using a periscope link that will go up on the club's Twitter feed shortly before kickoff. Hopefully it'll be a good listen and a good result!
  13. McCall enjoys getting one over Dundee United and Shankland As post-match trolling goes...wow. Just, wow. Incredible from McCall. Neilson has been burned alive here. pic.twitter.com/i5zSd4g0rv — itzdrk (@itzdrk) September 14, 2019 Aye, so Ian McCall really doesn't like Robbie Neilson then. He certainly seemed to rather enjoy shackling Lawrence Shankland, who was anonymous against his former club; I bet other Championship coaches will be taking note. Shankland wasn't the only ex-Ayr player feeling grim after this one. Liam Smith got burned badly by Daniel Harvie when the left-back metamorphosed into a rampaging centre-forward to open the scoring, and seemed to be targeted by McCall. After being twisted and turned all day he eventually gave a penalty away by tripping Alan Forrest, with the winger scoring it himself to clinch the win. Whilst a lot of the focus post-match was on how perhaps folk had been too quick to anoint Dundee United as certs for promotion (ahem) it's worth noting that Ayr, who lost several good players in the summer and who are so short of numbers that Kris Doolan was the only one of their five subs who is over the age of 20, are only behind them on goal difference. It's early days but that's still pretty impressive. Can they sustain it? Crawford is running out of time Dunfermline-Inverness had 0-0 written all over it from early on, until a Devine intervention - Pars substitute Daniel Devine gave away a foolish penalty for handball late on against his former club that gifted the visitors three scarcely-deserved points. So Dunfermline, who dropped to the bottom of the table after Friday night's game, could count themselves pretty unlucky. The flipside is this: Dunfermline's league record under Stevie Crawford: Played 21 Won 5 Drawn 4 Lost 12 Scored 14 Conceded 20 Points 19 Those 5 wins all came in a row. They haven't won in 13 league games since 9 March— Narey's Toepoker (@Nareystoepoker) September 14, 2019 Also, just 34 goals total in 21 games? How incredibly dull is that? Crawford has had to face arguably the three strongest sides in the division in the opening five games; they now have three vulnerable opponents to come in Partick Thistle, Alloa and Morton. If they're still bottom after that, the international break would seem like a logical time to replace Crawford. Dundee look better with one up front Apparently Alan Trouten hadn't missed a penalty in more than five years before Jack Hamilton saved his tame spot-kick at Dens Park. And that leaves me a nice easy stick to beat James McPake with (not literally!) - if only Trouten had been as reliable as usual, then Dundee would have been held to a draw. But the Dark Blues hit the woodwork twice and kept Jamie MacDonald, signed on an emergency loan on Friday, busy in the Alloa goal all afternoon. Crucially, they appear to have found a system that works, eschewing a second striker and instead using Paul McGowan in a more advanced role. Moreover, Josh McPake was particularly impressive on the left. The eighteen year old, on loan from Rangers, set up Jordan McGhee's winner with some fine wing play and was a threat all afternoon. The change in formation leaves Kane Hemmings as a rather expensive substitute but if Dundee are starting to put it all together then that's not exactly a bad problem to have. Is Miller the solution for Thistle, or part of the problem? That was some finish from Kenny Miller to rescue a point for Partick Thistle, though it certainly wasn't a reassuring display from the Harry Wraggs; Albeit in blustery conditions, Arbroath should have blown them away in the first half and Luke Donnelly was denied a late winner by an erroneous offside flag. For long periods Thistle looked devoid of ideas, even when Gary Caldwell hooked Tommy Robson for tactical reasons before half time. Only Reece Cole, playing at the base of midfield, looked comfortable. It didn't help though that often Miller, looking frustrated, would drop as deep as or even deeper than Cole to try and get the ball, or drift to the flank to try and get the ball, or, well, just wander anywhere. Given he was the lone striker, it often meant that there was no-one up front at all. Apart from disrupting the shape, it's worth noting that Miller's 39 year old legs no longer get from A to B as quickly as they used to and he would surely do his team a lot more good if he held his position and showed some discipline. Giving the best (or the loudest) kid in the playground the ball at every opportunity isn't always the best idea. QOS (El) Bakh in business Given Morton's recent defensive travails, Allan Johnston might feel disappointed that Queen of the South only scored once, but when you've only won three league games since mid-January you take what you can get. Given the Doonhamers' dependence on Stephen Dobbie they will have welcomed a first goal for Faissal El Bakhtaoui, who has been devoid of confidence for the best part of three years. Deploying El Bakhtaoui on the left and out-and-out winger Connor Murray on the right in a 4-4-2 is adventurous to say the least but it did the business on this occasion. It will be interesting to see if Queens try that again at Inverness next weekend, who have a lot more attacking prowess than Morton do. That said, Dobbie limped off in the second half on Saturday and if he has to miss time El Bakhtaoui may be back at centre forward for that one anyway. Lawrie Spence has whinged about Scottish football on Narey's Toepoker since September 2007. He has a life outside this blog. Honestly. View the full article