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Ladbrokes SPFL round up: All change for Christmas while Gers slip again

| 21.12.2015

Just when we thought the Ladbrokes SPFL couldn’t get any more exciting, the teams throughout the league go and serve up another pre-Christmas treat.

The first move came on Friday evening as Raith Rovers moved into the play-off positions with a 2-1 victory over Morton with a last-gasp penalty converted by James Craigen.

But that was just the start of things to come.

Leaders for much of the Ladbrokes Championship season, Rangers looked to be marching back to the top-flight last month, but with two wins in their last six, the chasing pack are closing in.

This week’s stumble came at the hands of Falkirk who secured a 2-1 win at Ibrox, with Will Vaulks netting the winner.

That victory now means the Bairns are unbeaten in eight games and move to within six points of the Gers.

It also signals a massive swing in the betting with the Glasgow outfit pushed out from 1/8 to 4/11 to take the title, while Falkirk went from 66/1 to 20/1.

The big winners of the weekend though could be Hibernian, who left it late to claim a solitary goal victor over Queen of the South.

Dominique Malonga’s strike means Hibs are now only second on goal difference and 21/10 (from 4/1) shots for the title.

At the other end of the table things look bleak to Alloa who fell to a 2-0 defeat to St Mirren, a side previously without a win in five games.

They are four points adrift, but it could have been so much worse had Dumbarton not fought back to secure a late point against Livingston.

The Wasps’ latest defeat means they are now 2/11 chances (from 1/4) to be occupying the division’s bottom spot come May.

Generous Ayr hand Pars the advantage

In Ladbrokes League 1 it appears that Ayr United are taking the season of goodwill a bit too far as they continue to do their utmost to present Dunfermline the title.

The Diamonds fell to their second straight defeat in a routine 3-0 victory for Jim McInally’s Peterhead.

Kevin Dzierzawski’s opener looked like being enough, until Shane Sutherland confirmed the victory with two goals in the last 10 minutes.

Defeat for Ayr means they are now 6/1 chances to lift the trophy, while the league-leading Pars stretched out to 1/10 shots.

It wasn’t as comprehensive as Allan Johnston might have hoped but the resolute Stenhousemuir defence couldn’t hold out all game as Shaun Rooney broke through in the 78th minute with his first goal for the club.

That was all it took to see them go six points clear at the summit.

There was a change at the foot of the table as Brechin City recorded their first victory in six games with a 2-0 win over Stranraer.

Two first-half goals from Dene Shields and Isaac Layne ensured that The Blues’ winless run of eight league matches continued and confirmed that they will be bottom at Christmas.

Cowdenbeath continued their climb up the table with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Airdrieonians, with Greig Spence adding two goals to take his tally into double-figures for the season.

The former Alloa man is now two behind Peterhead’s Rory McAllister and a 11/4 shot to take the division’ Golden Boot.

The final fixture in the league saw Albion Rovers and Forfar share the spoils in a 1-1 draw, with the Loons finding themselves just three points above the relegation play-off position.

League 2 remains anyone’s game

While last week all went to form in Ladbrokes League 2 with the top five beating the bottom five, it was a week of surprises this time around.

Stirling Albion ensured that the gap between first and fifth was as little as four points by scoring the only goal in the match against league leaders Annan Athletic.

That win was Albion’s fifth in six league fixtures, as they move level on points with Clyde and Elgin City, who occupy the last two play-off positions.

The former suffered a shock defeat at home to Arbroath as two goals in the final seven minutes of the match from Kane Hester and Andrew Ryan handed The Red Lichties back-to-back league wins for the first time since September.

Queen’s Park were unable to take advantage of Annan’s slip and go top when they were held to a goalless draw at Elgin.

In truth, it wasn’t a bad result for the Spiders with City unbeaten at home in the league since last May, and they saw their odds clipped in from 3/1 to 11/4 to take the title in the spring.

Montrose continue their search for a first three point haul since October as they were held to a 1-1 draw at East Fife.

Gary Fraser’s 11th goal of the season ensured the Gable Endies extended their advantage over the division’s bottom-spot, though their fans will be hoping for a win soon.

That side currently on course to claim the wooden spoon changed at the weekend as Berwick handed a thumping to East Stirling.

Two goals from Finn Graham in the first half and strikes from Dwayne Coultress and Darren Lavery after the break mean that the Shire might not be enjoying their turkey quite so much on Friday as Rangers ran out 4-0 winners.

Craig Tully’s side may be the ones on course for the indignation of a relegation play-off next year, but with League 2 as unpredictable as it is, it could all change yet.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.