Fixture Fun

Not only have we been spared some travelling by having two home games against both Aberdeen and Inverness but the fixtures have been kind to us at crucial times in the season. The start we have against Rangers is double edged. Yes, we may well lose. But the opening day is as good a time as any to play the old firm and probably better than most. The media hype surrounding Paul Le Guen will be going into overdrive and it could provide a distraction for his army of new signings.

The next match will be tricky at Love Street but against a team that will be struggling at the bottom we will nonetheless be hopeful of either putting first points on the board or building on a good opening day.

Finishing the cycle of matches with Celtic is obviously not ideal. We won't want to go to Parkhead needing something to make the top six on the last pre-split day and with Rangers being our opening fixture, we are in the unfortunate position of having old firm games back to back again.

However a pleasant quirk has given us a good set of festive matches including the old firm. Dunfermine away on Boxing Day isn't an unpleasant start to the holiday period and with Celtic on Dec 30 and Rangers on Jan 1 both at home we will fancy our chances of keeping at least some of the six points in the dark and mud of Fir Park. It's probably not an exact science but I have a suspicion that the old firm drop more away points at unsociable times of year than sunny Saturday afternoons in October.

And as for our finish, apart from the Celtic away match as the 33rd fixture we could hardly have handpicked them better. Of the preceding six, four are at home and the away fixtures are to New Brockville and Tannadice. Fear hardly strikes into the heart about them – at this stage at any rate!

The four home games are against Inverness, Hearts, Kilmarnock and Dunfermline. Only Hearts of that group are certain to be better than us although Inverness will be licking their lips at the thought of giving us another late mortal wound in Lanarkshire.

So, there it is. The first task at hand is already in focus for Maurice Malpas and he will know that anything from that Rangers match is a springboard to launch a good season. Should we lose, it was half-expected anyway and we have an immediate chance to bounce back against a likely struggler. I'm almost looking forward to the challenge already!