Written by ASF Sports Reporter, Cameron Steer
Saturday August 13th
The second half of the SPFL’s opening month yielded plenty of goals for spectators to enjoy. Starting off the action on Saturday 13th was a tightly contested goal fest at Pittodrie as Aberdeen hosted Motherwell. Fans had to endure a slower first half as both teams warmed into the game, but after coming close a couple times, Motherwell drew first blood in the twentieth minute through Blair Spittal, a lead that Motherwell looked good value for. However the comfort that this lead provided was short lived, as Aberdeen looked determined to get back into the game. That’s just what they did, and they couldn’t have done it at a better time, with forward Bojan Miovski drawing them level in the forty-second minute to send the sides into the break tied. The first half setup the second to be quite the show, and that’s just what was provided for the fans as Johnny Hayes came flying out of the blocks at half time to establish Aberdeen’s lead for the first time in the game, his forty-seventh minute goal separating the two sides. However it was Aberdeen’s turn for some short lived adulation as they lost this lead just five minutes later as Motherwell’s Callum Slattery got himself on the scoresheet to pull the game back level. Motherwell then looked like a determined side who knew there was a winning goal here for them, carrying the momentum in the game, and because of this they only had to wait three more minutes for a winner from their main striker Kevin Van Veen in the fifty-fifth minute of the game, turning into a more anxious affair with Aberdeen desperate to get back into it. Unfortunately for the hosts, Motherwell were able to see the game out to clutch a valuable three points. Aberdeen 2-3 Motherwell.
Livingston came out on top as they hosted nearby Hibernian at the Tony Macaroni Stadium in a firecracker of a game. Livingston forward Joel Nouble got the scoring started early in just the sixth minute of the game as Livingston took charge of business at home. This set the tone for the rest of the first half, as Hibs had to change their game plan early. It took Hibs all of fifty minutes to reply through Nohan Kenneh who pulled the game level at the start of the second half. This goal meant that the rest of the game was pretty devoid of any real quality as both sides appeared to result in scrapping it out till one team managed to scramble a winner. That’s just what happened, with the momentum of the game swinging the way of the hosts, who left it late but eventually sealed a 2-1 victory over Hibs, Ayo Obileye the hero of the day for Livingston in the eighty-sixth minute. Livingston 2-1 Hibernian.
Next on Saturday’s lineup was Glasgow Rangers who hosted St. Johnstone at Ibrox. This one was a slow burner, with Rangers dominating possession and trying to find a way through a packed St. Johnstone defence who held strong for most of the first half. Unfortunately they couldn’t see it out till halftime as American Mark Tillman broke the deadlock for Rangers to send them into the break 1-0 up. Things went from bad to worse for St. Johnstone after this as Rangers found their rhythm in the second half to put a demolition job on their visitors. Rangers newboy, Striker Antonio-Mirko Colak increased the distance between the sides to two goals in the sixty-second minute before a quickfire two goals from Scott Arfield (eightieth minute) and other new signing Tom Lawrence (eighty-third minute) put a cap on a resounding display at home. Rangers 4-0 St. Johnstone.
Saturday’s action was brought to a close by a slow burning, messy scrap between St. Mirren and their visitors Ross County. As is usually the case when two evenly matched teams meet in the SPFL, there’s really not much to separate them apart from fine margins of hard work and fortune and that’s exactly how this game was decided. After a rather mundane first half St. Mirren seemed to be the team who came out of the break most motivated and focussed, grabbing a goal right out the blocks in the fiftieth minute through Richard Tait. A goal which proved to be the difference at full time after a scrappy second half following. St. Mirren 1-0 Ross County.
Sunday 14th August
Champions Glasgow Celtic got Sunday’s goalfest off to a start with a 5-0 demolition of newly promoted Kilmarnock. Three goals from three different scorers meant that the game was effectively over at half time. Furuhashi opened the scoring in the seventh minute as Celtic stamped their authority on the match, Jota added a second at the thirty-fifth minute before Moritz Jenz put the game out of reach on the stroke of half time. If the game was already out of reach at half time, Starfelts goal in the seventy-sixth minute just further accentuated the gulf in class between the two sides. Celtic striker Giakoumakis added a fifth in the eighty second minute to rub salt in the wounds on a frustrating afternoon for Kilmarnock with all but four yellow cards to show for their efforts. Celtic 5-0 Kilmarnock.
Hearts followed Celtic’s lead by putting on a show for the home fans as they hosted Dundee Utd to Tynecastle. It only took Lawrence Shankland one minute to score against his former club in a nightmare start to the day for Dundee, who to their credit, held it at 1-0 till half time. After the half however the floodgates opened, with man in form Barrie Mckay doubling the Hearts lead in the forty-eighth minute. Jorge Grant made it three for hearts without reply from Dundee in the sixty-second minute, before Steven Fletcher cawed a goal back for Dundee from the penalty spot. This proved to only be a consolation goal however as Josh Ginnelly added insult to injury by making it four for Hearts in the ninety-fifty minute. Hearts 4-1 Dundee Utd.
Saturday 20th August
Hibernian hosted Rangers to Easter Road in Edinburgh to kick off the weekend’s action in a total blockbuster of a match which ended all square and with the visiting Glasgow Rangers ending the match with only 9 players on the pitch. The first half was more like a brawl than a football match, with four early yellow cards being dealt to each side. Rangers came out on top at the end of the half with captain James Tavernier converting from the penalty spot to put them a goal up going into the break. Hibs replied promptly after the break through Martin Boyle, who equalised in the fifty-first minute of the game, the game wasn’t level for long however as Tom Lawrence restored the lead for Rangers just seven minutes later. Things went downhill fast for Rangers however as midfielder Lunstrum was shown a red card just ten minutes after the goal to put them ahead. No more than ten minutes after that, Alfredo Morelos was also shown a red card to reduce Rangers to 9 men. Hibernian capitalised on this advantage and managed to grab a late equaliser in stoppage time. Hibernian 2-2 Rangers.
Next up, Aberdeen travelled south to St. Johnstone for a rather bland one goal affair, with most highlights in the game being fouls committed by the hosts who racked up five yellow cards over the course of the match. In the end it was Leighton Clarkson’s fifty-sixth minute strike that was all that separated the two sides, as Aberdeen escaped with three valuable away points. St. Johnstone 0-1 Aberdeen.
Ross County hosted Kilmarnock to the highlands as both clubs looked to get their seasons back on track. The desire to win was evident from both sides by the aggression on display in the game. The game ended with nine yellow cards shared among both sides, with Ross County’s Ross Callachan seeing a second yellow in the last ten minutes of the match. In the end the two sides could only be separated by a late winner for the hosts as Owura Edwards grabbed a late winner in the eighty-sixth minute. Ross County 1-0 Kilmarnock.
Motherwell were able to carry the momentum from the weekend prior into the game against Livingston who weren’t as fortunate. The game was void of any convincing attacking play in the build up to goals, only fitting then that the only goal of the game ended up being a penalty kick, again converted for Motherwell by their main bagsman Kevin Van Veen. Apart from a goal from twelve yards out, the only other real highlight of the game was the quick fire double yellow cards that Dylan Bahamboula received just three minutes apart, which saw him leave the pitch. Motherwell 1-0 Livingston.
Closing out Saturday’s action was bottom of the table Dundee Utd who hosted St. Mirren. Unfortunately for Dundee, their far from ideal start to the season was extended as they fell victim to a superb attacking display from St. Mirren. Dundee struggled all game to get even a sniff of a real goal scoring opportunity. It was the complete opposite for their opponents however as they looked comfortable and in full control in front of goal, Curtis Main stole the headlines, as he grabbed two goals either side of half time to cement himself a brace. Alex Grieve added a third goal in the ninetieth minute to further cement the win. Dundee Utd 0-3 St.Mirren.
Sunday 21st August
The weekend’s games drew to a close with the lone Sunday fixture that saw Glasgow Celtic square off with Heart of Midlothian in a Glasgow vs Edinburgh battle. Unfortunately for Hearts, they had to leave Glasgow with nothing but seven bookings, two of which resulted in second yellow cards and dismissals from the field of play, meaning that Hearts ended the game with nine men on the pitch. Overall it was a hard fought endeavour from Hearts, however Celtic never really looked in doubt and had full control of proceedings with Kyogo Furuhashi scoring early in the thirteenth minute and Georgious Giakoumakis doubling the lead four minutes into stoppage time at the end of the game. Celtic 2-0 Hearts