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Circling the drain . . . but who will go down the plughole?




Apr 26 Kilmarnock (H)

May 3 St Mirren (A)

May 6 Hibernian (H)

May 10 Partick Thistle (A)


County have invested heavily in their squad, both last summer and again in January, and so couldn't have expected to find themselves in this position so late in the season.

Their recent record is not great, with no win in their last five matches and only two points secured in that period. Their last victory - a surprise one away to St Johnstone - came in mid-March.

Reports that striker Yoann Arquin has gone missing will not help with morale in the camp, although the tenacity of figures like manager Derek Adams will ensure County will battle for every point going. Of greater concern will be the way players such as Filip Kiss have gone off the boil in recent times.


Richie Brittain has almost as many yellow cards as goals this season which sums up his whole-hearted approach.

The decision to stay in Dingwall last summer rather than move to St Johnstone may have cost him the chance to play in the Scottish Cup final but County will be grateful he stayed to add his graft and leadership on the park.


This isn't what County would have expected this year. They finished fifth last season in their inaugural top-flight campaign - just three points shy of a European place - but it has been a different story this time with most of their season spent in the wrong half of the table. Surviving a relegation battle in the first division three years ago may stand them in good stead.



Apr 25 St Mirren (H)

May 3 Hibernian (A)

May 6 Hearts (A)

May 10 Ross County (H)


Avoiding the relegation play-off spot would likely have been the extent of Thistle's ambition in their first season back in the top division and they are on track to achieve that. An entertaining first half to the campaign - where their attacking play attracted a raft of plaudits - has been converted gradually to a more pragmatic approach which has still been easy on the eye while also delivering results. It took until late February for them to win their first home game of the season in the league, and they followed it with a second in their next outing. Last weekend's win at Kilmarnock was timely as it came on the back of a run of three losses and a draw. They are just two points from safety, making tomorrow's game against St Mirren significant.


Kallum Higginbotham said recently that he "doesn't do nerves" which will certainly come in handy over the coming weeks. The forward has been one of Thistle's most influential figures of late, scoring and creating a number of goals, and manager Alan Archibald will be hoping he can continue in a similar vein for the remainder of the season.


This is Thistle's first season in the top flight for nine years so relegation dogfights have not been something they have been through in recent times. Experienced figures like Paul Gallacher, Lee Mair and manager Archibald have been there before, though, and know what will be required in the weeks ahead.



Apr 26 Ross County (A)

May 4 Hearts (A)

May 7 St Mirren (H)

May 10 Hibernian (A)


Kilmarnock have been no worse than ninth in the table since the turn of the year and seem the team in least danger of being relegated. Their most recent results, however, should offer some concern. They have won just two of their last 11 games, with successive home defeats by St Johnstone and then Partick both surprising and potentially damaging. Perhaps also of significance is the fact that Allan Johnston's side haven't kept a clean sheet since January, putting extra pressure on their forwards to deliver. Three away matches in their last four games looks a tricky run-in, although given recent home form it may be a blessing in disguise.


Where Kilmarnock would be without Kris Boyd's goals is anyone's guess. The striker has 19 so far in a stellar personal season that has been recognised by his peers in the form of a nomination for the PFA Scotland Player of the Year award. No goals in his last three matches represents a relative lean spell and his side will hope the striker finds form quickly.


There has been top-flight football in Kilmarnock since 1993, although they survived a scare four seasons ago when they needed - and got - a draw at home to Falkirk on the final day of the season to secure their status.



Apr 25 Partick Thistle (A)

May 3 Ross County (H)

May 7 Kilmarnock (A)

May 10 Hearts (H)


St Mirren have spent most of 2014 looking like the team destined for the play-off spot only to belatedly find some form when it matters most. A draw away to Inverness Caledonian Thistle stopped a run of eight defeats in nine games and the Paisley side have followed that up with back-to-back home victories over Motherwell and then Hibernian. They will hope it is performances and results like that - rather than their rotten run at the start of the year - that come to the fore in their remaining games. Tomorrow's showdown away to Partick Thistle is shaping up to be a crunch encounter and St Mirren will be backed by a travelling support in the region of 2000 fans. They have won only once away from home in five months, although a 3-0 victory at Firhill earlier in the campaign will offer hope of a repeat.


Steven Thompson is now 35-and-a-half years old but showing no signs of slowing up. Deprived of the deliveries of the injured Gary Teale for most of the season, the striker has had to work harder for his goals but they have still arrived with near-clockwork regularity. He has 16 for the season - including the winner against Motherwell a fortnight ago - and seems intent on adding more.


St Mirren have been perennial relegation battlers since winning promotion in 2006, first under Gus MacPherson and now under Danny Lennon. Only once have they finished better than 10th but each time they have done just enough to secure their top-flight status. The law of averages would suggest they will go down eventually but, conversely, their experiences at the bottom may serve them well in the scrap ahead.



Apr 27 Hearts (H)

May 3 Partick Thistle (H)

May 6 Ross County (A)

May 10 Kilmarnock (H)


Appalling to say the least. Hibs should not be anywhere near this dogfight but a dreadful sequence of results has sucked them right into it.

Two months ago they were nine points clear of 11th and pushing for a top-six finish. Now they have only a three-point cushion and are a side completely bereft of confidence. Terry Butcher's side have lost five straight matches and have also failed to score in their last four.

They have won only one game since January 2 and drawn just four others. One victory might be sufficient for them - and they have three of their last four games at home - but it is hard to see just how that win will come.

Their next match is against Hearts at Easter Road, a team intent on dragging their rivals down with them. Hibs had a chance to relegate Hearts last month and failed to take it and now the shoe is on the other foot. Hibs have the advantage that four teams would need to overhaul them but, at the moment, you couldn't rule it out.


So many of Butcher's players have let him down of late that it is hard to pick one who will definitely stand up and be counted over the four remaining matches. The experience of Kevin Thomson, though, could be vital. The midfielder has been used only sparingly since Butcher took charge but returned to add some solidity to the side in the 2-0 defeat by St Mirren last weekend.


Hibs have not been relegated since 1998, although they came close two seasons ago when they spent the majority of the campaign battling against the drop, eventually seeing off Dunfermline Athletic. They finished seventh last term, 21 points ahead of relegated Dundee. Had there been a play-off place they would have been 10 points clear.

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