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Livingston the team to beat in Division Three

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Chris Jardine | 16:06 UK time, Wednesday, 14 October 2009

I'm sure it was at a similar time last year when I tipped Dumbarton for the title after coming up against them in a 4-1 defeat away from home. As it turned out, I was proved correct and, after attempting to compete with the Livingston players for 70 minutes at Almondvale on Tuesday night, I'm plumping for them to be playing Second Division football next season.

This may not come as a big surprise as people will say that they are basically a Third Division side with First Division players and they should have no problem with regards being promoted.

Livi still have to get the job done and will face some difficult away games throughout the season but I just can't see them dropping many points on their home turf at all in the remainder of the season.

Livingston have started the season stronglyYou can see from their early results they have found it difficult on their travels so far but, after seeing them first hand, I'm going to say that would have been a lot to do with them being unprepared for life in this division.

Their midweek defeat up at East Stirlingshire apart, they have won five from their last six games and have a home game to come this weekend. I'm not taking anything away from the other clubs in our league but I just don't see many teams coming close to them when it comes to playing football.

They have some terrific players and every one of them is comfortable on the ball. Even in tight situations when you would expect them to go route one, they continue to play their way out of trouble.

It was a hard shift for Steven Sloan, Bryan Gilfillan and I in the middle of the park but I enjoyed going up against David and Robbie Winters. For me they were the pick of the bunch and their touch and movement was worthy of a much higher level.

Our 17-year-old striker Phil 'same old' Storey is a great prospect for the club and he could do a lot worse than learn from the Winters brothers. For some reason, Phil asked for a mention on the blog this week so I'm going to contact Sky Sports, who were there filming, for a copy of our game last night especially for him - watch and learn mate.

It's easy to see I was impressed with our opponents on Tuesday night but things are far from doom and gloom after our defeat. We want to win every game we play but we're also realistic and we knew taking anything from the game at Livingston would be a bonus.

I mentioned last week that we wanted to take six points from our next three fixtures - well we're still on course for that after our victory at home to Montrose last Saturday.

The game itself wasn't pretty. In fact, I'm glad I never had to pay to watch it. There aren't too many games in this division that are all about silky soccer and more often than not you have to roll the sleeves up and put in a shift. We did that on Saturday and eventually our efforts paid off and we got a couple of good goals to claim a much-needed three points.

I was both surprised and delighted to be back in the team. With Mike Jack missing the Stranraer game and a few injury niggles to contend with, the manager felt a few changes were necessary and thankfully I got the nod.

It doesn't really matter how your chance comes along, you just have to make sure you take it and hopefully I did. It wasn't the best performance I've had but I dug in and worked hard and also had a hand in both goals so I felt positive after the game. I obviously kept my place for the Livingston game but Stranraer is another day.

Finally, it was interesting to read SFA chief executive Gordon Smith's comments in the press about how possible changes to the league structure were being discussed at the top levels. It would be great to see some form of pyramid system in place to allow for promotion and relegation into the Third Division.

This was something we always hoped for while Annan were participating in the East of Scotland League but perhaps our thoughts have changed now!

Seriously, I think it would be a very positive move and let's face it, Scottish football certainly needs freshening up. It will be music to the ears of ambitious clubs like our friends at Spartans and Scottish Cup opponents, Cove Rangers.

I'm sure it will be a few years away yet but I fully expect this to happen and maybe even before we see the Old Firm in the English Premier League!


  • Comment number 1.

    I thought Livi's passing and movement was great in the first half. We got back into the game in the second half and might half sneaked a goal but for a couple of cracking saves from their keeper.

    Boys were a credit though as they got back into the game well despite chasing shadows for a good section of the first 45mins.

    My favourite part of the night had to be when the stadium announcer corrected himself at half time after getting the scorer wrong for the second goal. He said that he was sorry for the mistake and that if they had one of those "take a shot at the target games" on at half time,he would go down onto the pitch and (I quote this so it can't be removed!!!):

    "...put my bum in the hole and take one for the team!..."

    Certainly raised a smile in the away support.

    Let's play some expansive football and beat the Clay Holers on Saturday.

    Mon the Annan!

  • Comment number 2.

    Livi fan here.

    A couple of stunning saves? Try one. And while it was a stunning save, and Annan had the best of the second half, then the result never looked in doubt. Annan had nothing up front what-so-ever.

    Good blog, and while I agree with you that we should be favourites for the title, a potential points deduction for missing the East Stirling game at the start of the season could certainly put the cat amongst the pidgeons.

  • Comment number 3.

    Hi Chris

    Remember though that Livingston could be getting a 15 points deduction, which on top of relegation to the 3rd Div seems pretty harsh, but that could really hold them back.

    Also, with regards to a pyramidal system, do you think replacing the 2nd & 3rd Divs with a 2nd Div North & a 2nd Div South might be the first step towards such a system. Surely Annan no longer having to make the long trips to Elgin, Montrose & Forfar and replacing them with trips to Dumbarton, Clyde & Stenhousmuir can only help reduce travelling costs.



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