Ladbrokes SPFL: Rangers shorten again while League 2 battle hots up

The weather may have meant that we were limited to just five fixtures outside of the top division in Scotland making it to the final whistle, but what did go ahead ensured we were left with multiple talking points.

There is no better place to start than at Ibrox, as Rangers looked to stretch ahead at the top of the Ladbrokes Championship.

Mark Warburton’s side wasted no time in putting Livingston to the sword, with Danny Wilson, Martyn Waghorn (twice) and Kenny Miller ensuring the Gers had a 4-0 lead at half-time.

Livi did hit back in the second half but Liam Buchanan’s strike was mere consolation as their hosts pulled clear of the chasing pack.

Incidentally, Saturday’s fixture was the sixth home game in seven (in all competitions) that Rangers have netted four or more goals.

The baton was then passed to the Glasgow outfit’s nearest pursuers Falkirk and Hibernian who did battle on Sunday.

In the end it was probably a result that neither side wanted as Jason Cummings’ goal cancelled out Blair Alston’s opener to ensure a share of the spoils.

While Hibs pushed hard for the winner, it was not to be, as both sides remain five points behind the league leaders, though Alan Stubbs’ men have a game in hand on the Bairns in second.

Ladbrokes cut Rangers to 1/8 (from 1/7) to still hold top-spot at the end of the season, while the Hibees are now 9/2 shots, with Falkirk shunted right out from 14/1 to 20/1 to claim the title.

League 1’s form team Peterhead extended their winning run to four matches as they battered Stranraer who remain in danger of a real relegation scrap in the coming months.

The Blue Toon put five past their hosts, though surprisingly league top scorer Rory McAllister was not one of them as Shane Sutherland, Jamie Stevenson, Alexander Gilchrist and Leighton McIntosh carried the torch for the Aberdeenshire outfit.

Brian Reed’s side did get on the scoresheet themselves with Craig Malcolm adding his seventh of the season, but it was never going to be enough to stop their visitors moving to within two points of second-place Ayr.

While the title races in the Championship and League 1 threaten to see the leaders run away with things, there is no such worry in League 2, as we saw yet another shake-up over the weekend.

Annan Athletic were 2/1 favourites in mid-December, but having picked up three straight defeats find themselves out at 4/1 to move out of the SPFL’s bottom tier this season.

Their latest loss comes in the shape of a 4-2 home defeat to East Fife, who usurped their opponents into third place with victory.

Two late goals from Greg Macdonald spared the hosts an embarrassing defeat, but fans will be worried with their recent form nonetheless.

Their conquerors from Fife remain Dark Horses in the race for the title, but were shortened from 12/1 into 9/1 on the back of their success.

They are two points behind Queen’s Park who were held to a 1-1 draw by strugglers Montrose, who will have come into the game buoyed by their first victory since October against East Stirling last week.

Gus MacPherson will surely see it as two points dropped by the Spiders who continue to deliver low-scoring affairs in front of their own fans.

In fact, no side (Queen’s Park included) has scored more than one goal in a league tie at Hampden since September 19, while Saturday’s fixture was the first to go over 1.5 goals since October 31.

Their slow and steady method of closing the gap on the top-spot may not thrilling for the neutrals, but with this league full of twists and turns, consistency could be key.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.