SPL Weekend review

SPL Clydesdale Bank Team of the Week

October 4, 2009
By Neil McDougall
(Archive)

GOALKEEPER
PAUL GALLACHER (St Mirren): There wasn't much to choose between the keepers in the SPL this weekend, but Gallacher was part of a team which created a little piece of history and was also assured in his handling, despite the storms which buffeted Scotland. He had cause to thank Hearts' Suso Santana for his profligacy, but Gallacher made a couple of excellent blocks and helped St Mirren climb to seventh in the SPL.

Shaun Maloney and David Weir
SNSShaun Maloney and David Weir

DEFENCE
IAN MURRAY (Hibernian): The Easter Road club have clearly benefited from Murray's return to prominence in recent weeks and he produced another uncompromising and committed show throughout his team's 1-1 draw with Dundee United which, albeit briefly, pushed John Hughes' personnel to second place in the SPL table.

DAVID WEIR (Rangers): Many people will argue that the 39-year-old was fortunate not to concede at least one penalty during Sunday's Old Firm clash at Ibrox. However, considering that Weir was being asked to shore up an injury-stricken rearguard, the fact he not only exuded his usual solidity, but created several opportunities upfield, testified to the glaring contrast between his day and that of the Celtic defence.

GARRY HAY (Kilmarnock): Another man who is never afraid to put in a hard shift for his employers, without bothering about grabbing headlines, Hay emerged as one of the linchpins of his team's supremacy during their 1-1 draw with Aberdeen at Rugby Park. He never allowed the visitors to settle and, given his industry, was entitled to feel aggrieved that his colleagues wasted so many chances to secure a precious victory.

MIDFIELD
MEROUANE ZEMMAMA (Hibernian): The Moroccan international has bounced back into the SPL spotlight, following his recovery from injury, and mesmerised the Dundee United defence during an opening 45 minutes where the Leith men could have been three or four goals in front. Zemmama also scored with a superbly controlled finish, but, sadly for him, too many of his colleagues failed to exhibit similar poise.

STEVEN DAVIS (Rangers): He might have struggled to regain last season's consistency, prior to Sunday's meeting with Celtic, but Davis seems to thrive on the biggest stages and ran his heart out, while helping the hosts resist a strong Celtic second-half assault. Unlike Pedro Mendes, who surrendered possession too cheaply, Davis knows the value of hanging on to the ball and his energy was a significant feature of his side's victory.

CHRIS HUMPHREY (Motherwell): The 22-year-old has suffered a difficult few weeks of late - he and his partner recently lost their unborn child - but he rallied to the Fir Park cause with a terrifically committed display as they inflicted further misery on toiling Falkirk. Both hard working and infused with a meaty tackle and a burst of pace, Humphrey is one of a string of youngsters doing their club proud in the SPL.

Zheng Zhi
SNSZheng Zhi holds off the Gers

ZHENG ZHI (Celtic): A few of his team-mates appeared to have difficulties reacting to the breathless intensity of an Old Firm derby, but the Chinese captain looked impressive while attempting to claw back a two-goal deficit at Ibrox. He won the penalty which brought Celtic back into contention and has both vision and a silky touch at his disposal. With more clinical finishing, his efforts may have yielded greater reward.

STRIKERS
KENNY MILLER (Rangers): Just as he had done in the first Old Firm match of the 2008-09 campaign, Miller seized a priceless brace of goals to orchestrate a Rangers triumph and shrug off any concerns over his form and fitness. Yes, the Celtic defence was at fault in both instances, but the clinical efficiency with which Miller pounced on their frailties demonstrated that he thrives on these days when other people freeze.

CRAIG DARGO (St Mirren): The Buddies have made very heavy weather of their move to a new stadium, but finally, after nine months and 11 league games filled with frustration, they ended their jinx in spectacular style when Dargo sealed their 2-1 success over Hearts with a quite magnificent strike. His sumptuous volley crashed into the top corner of the net in the 64th minute and was worthy of wining any football match.

SHAUN MALONEY (Celtic): Granted, he might not technically fit the description of an out-and-out forward, but Maloney posed constant problems for Rangers and was altogether more effective than Scott McDonald in getting under his rivals' skin. He should have gained an early penalty and almost latched on to Aiden McGeady's service as Celtic strove for an equaliser in the second half. Beaten, but unbowed at the end.

BAD WEEK
TONY MOWBRAY: It's too early to conclude whether the Celtic manager is in danger of coming second best to Walter Smith in the tactical and psychological stakes, but he suffered a disappointing few days, both in the Europa League against Rapid Vienna and subsequently at Ibrox. Given that Rangers were missing so many front-line players, including the talismanic Madjid Bougherra, Mowbray's men had a golden opportunity to amass a seven-point lead over their traditional Scottish foes. But they fluffed their lines horribly.