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Ladbrokes SPFL Round-up: League 2 battle sees new leaders again

| 04.01.2016

Considering the battering Storm Frank gave the country in the past week it was somewhat pleasing to note that just two games in the Ladbrokes SPFL were beaten by the weather.

What did go ahead had it all, with dominant displays, late comebacks and a League 2 title battle that refuses to simmer out.

Here’s your round-up of the action from the Championship downwards…

Age was certainly no barrier to Kenny Miller on Saturday as the 36-year-old led the way with a hat-trick in Rangers’ 6-0 demolition of Dumbarton.

That victory sees Mark Warburton’s men maintain their three-point lead at the top of the division, but with their two closest rivals also scoring wins their odds were nudged out slightly from 1/7 to 1/5.

While they were not as high-scoring as the Glasgow outfit, Hibernian kept pace with the Gers with a 1-0 victory at Raith Rovers.

Jason Cummings was the man to thank with his 12th league goal of the season that saw Hibs cut from 4/1 to 7/2 in the race for the title.

Alan Stubbs’ side are not the closest pursuers to the side in the driving seat though, as Falkirk kept their hold on second spot.

The Bairns recorded their fourth win on the bounce, and third without conceding a goal with a 1-0 success over strugglers Alloa Athletic.

They remain outsiders of the three but could be the value at 12/1 (from 16/1) to take the title, as the top three pulled 17 points clear of their nearest challengers.

Queen of the South gained ground on the play-off places after Raith’s defeat with a 2-0 victory of their own over Livingston.

It was a welcome success for Queens who ended their wait of nearly two months for three points at the Tony Macaroni Arena.

Another side continuing to find their feet are St Mirren who picked up a second straight away win at Greenock Morton to pull away from the drop-zone.

Lawrence Shankland’s third goal in as many games was enough to give the Buddies three points and restore some order after a shabby first half to the campaign.

In Ladbrokes League 1 Dunfermline’s grip on the title appears to be getting stronger by the week as they moved nine points clear courtesy of a 2-1 victory over Cowdenbeath.

Michael Moffat’s penalty was enough to end Cowden’s run of four straight wins in all competitions and see the Pars cut from 1/14 to 1/25 to lift the trophy in May.

Their cause was helped by Ayr United who continue to fall away after losing their fourth game in five league matches with a 1-0 defeat away to Stranraer.

United are now 10/1 shots (from 8/1) to usurp Dunfermline in top spot and in the current form you’d say it’s looking very unlikely to happen.

Aside from the team at the top the form club at the moment in the division are undoubtedly Peterhead.

Jim McInally’s men comprehensively saw off Stenhousemuir with a 4-1 victory to claim their fourth win in five and increase their cushion on the play-off chasers to six points.

One of those sides is Airdrieonians who left it late to pick up a 2-1 victory at the expense of Albion Rovers.

Jim Lister’s 87th minute winner was enough to bag the three points and end the Diamonds’ run of three straight defeats to keep pressure on the sides above them in the table.

If League 1 looks a formality, then League 2 is the polar opposite.

Just three points separate the top four in the division, and we have new leaders in the form of Elgin City.

Jim Weir’s men went to Bayview searching for their first away win at East Fife in nearly six years, and their fans were left far from disappointed.

The win saw City cut from 6/1 to 4/1, a price that might look huge for the side in the driving seat, but certainly reflects how open the division is.

Next in the pecking order are Queen’s Park, who are quietly going about their business without giving fans much to shout about.

Their 1-0 victory over Clyde saw them leap-frog the Bully Wee in the table, and continue the low-scoring form that has seen their last four games yield just three goals, they were however clipped from 10/3 to 11/4 for title glory.

The surprise of the weekend saw bottom club East Stirling record a 3-2 win over Stirling Albion to record their fourth victory in five in front of their own fans in a pulsating derby.

For Albion though, they continue to fall away from the title scrap with their second straight defeat.

It could be worse though, they could be Montrose.

The Gable Endies have now waited two months for a win with six defeats and two draws all they have to show for their troubles in that period.

Their 2-0 loss to Arbroath means that they are in real danger of facing a fight to stay in the SPFL for a second season running.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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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.