spl weekend review

SPL Team of the Week - Week 14

December 6, 2009
By Neil McDougall

His team eventually finished up on the receiving end of a 3-1 thumping by Rangers, but that shouldn't be allowed to detract from a terrific performance by Olejnik, who produced a string of quality saves and parries while repeatedly thwarting the likes of Nacho Novo and denying Kris Boyd a hat-trick.

Madjid Bougherra in action against Falkirk
SNSMadjid Bougherra in action against Falkirk

DAVE MacKAY (St Johnstone):
It was a travesty that the former Inverness winger ended up on the losing side, given the skill and hard graft which he expended while restricting Kilmarnock to a single goal. However, despite MacKay's attempts to release the Saints' strikers, they couldn't capitalise on the opportunities, which sums up their season.

His assurance at the back has helped secure some crucial results for his employers and Canning's indefatigable efforts allowed Hamilton to inflict more pressure on struggling Hearts. His task was made easier by the visitors being reduced to nine men, but even prior to the dismissals, the defender was immaculate.

Walter Smith has had ample reason to excoriate the Algerian in recent weeks, but he brought an abrasive edge and commanding presence to their display whilst helping Rangers beat Falkirk. Invariably at his best when acting instinctively, Bougherra's storming run created Kris Boyd's opening goal, demonstrating that, when he can be bothered to turn up, he is a valuable commodity at Ibrox.

The Irishman served up another majestic display as John Hughes' ensemble maintained their title push with a convincing 2-0 defeat of Motherwell. "We are not getting carried away at this stage, but Liam was absolutely outstanding in midfield and he's the find of the season," said Hughes afterwards.

His deft 79th-minute goal earned the Tannadice side a precious 3-2 victory against St Mirren and confirmed that the exciting youngster is maturing at a rate of knots. "I thought he was excellent today," said his manager, Craig Levein. "He is an entertainer and that's what people want to see."

He doesn't court headlines the way a Boyd or Bougherra does, but Davis has been one of his side's most consistent players throughout an often difficult season for Walter Smith's men. Against Falkirk, he seized control of the midfield and was a pivotal figure in ensuring the visitors chalked up a victory.

Week after week, the Parkhead man is pulling the strings and orchestrating a revival for the Celts, which has steered them back to the summit of the SPL. His industry and vision caused myriad problems for Aberdeen on Saturday and none of his opponents was able to shackle the inventive energy of McGeady, whose precise passing created the chances for his team to romp to a 3-0 success.

Georgios Samaras, Celtic
GettyImagesGeorgios Samaras has struggled at Parkhead.

KRIS BOYD (Rangers):
The controversial Scotland refusenik received stick from a section of the Falkirk fans at the start of the Ibrox club's tussle with the SPL basement club, but responded in the best possible manner with a brace of first-half goals to steer him ever closer to Henrik Larsson's tally. Even being booked after showing his stomach to his critics in the crowd couldn't take the gloss off his display.

He can blow hot and cold, but as the December chill envelops Scottish football, Samaras has started to fire where it matters, sparking all manner of problems for Aberdeen, while scoring a couple of goals during a comfortable triumph for the Parkhead personnel. He received a standing ovation when he was substituted after 80 minutes, which shows he is winning round the doubters.

The former Sunderland player enjoyed a profitable afternoon's work against Motherwell on Saturday. He broke the deadlock in the first half, added a second - despite his team mate Colin Nish's effort to claim the goal - in the 56th minute and hit the bar from a Derek Riordan corner, narrowly missing out on a deserved hat-trick as the Easter Road faithful rose to acclaim his endeavours.

MARK McGHEE (Aberdeen):
There is no point in his men making a habit of beating Rangers if they continue to be lambs to the slaughter whenever they meet Celtic. Once again, the Dons slumped to a heavy loss in Glasgow and, worse still, suffered their fifth red card in as many games with the merited dismissal of Jerei Ifil.