by John Reid

Celtic hit four, Inverness hit three, and the first division title race hots up in the return of the Scottish Stramash.

Celtic stay nine points clear at the top of the SPL after a comfortable 4-1 win over Hearts. Gary Hooper – who Celtic recently down a £5 million bid from Norwich for – scored twice, with the other goals coming from Samaras and Lassad. The game was prefaced with a minute’s applause for Celtic legend Sean Fallon who recently died at the age of 90.

Inverness stay second after an emphatic 3-0 win over Aberdeen. Andy Shinnie getting the first goal and the prolific Billy McKay scoring a brace.

Motherwell remain in third after an enthralling 3-2 win over St. Johnstone. Michael Higdon had put Motherwell in control with a hat-trick, but two goals in two minutes from Hasselbaink and Craig set up a frantic finale, but Motherwell held on.

Hibs’ indifferent recent league form continued as they were held 1-1 at home by bottom club Dundee, Baird giving Dundee an early lead but Leigh Griffiths – who is now able to stay on loan till the end of the season, got the equaliser.

Johnny Russell was the star of the show as his hat-trick gave Dundee United a 3-2 win over Kilmarnock. Prior to the match Killie chairman Michael Johnston revealed that the club faced a winding-up order after failing to pay a £16 grand food bill. It will be interesting to see where this story goes next.
Ross County won 4-1 at St. Mirren in a match notable for Ivan Sproule’s debut, in which he scored twice. If he can reproduce the form he showed in his first spell at Hibs, he could prove to be a very decent signing for County.

The lower league fixtures were hit with the weather, but some games still went ahead and in the first division leaders Morton stayed top with a 2-1 win over in-form Livingston. Second placed Partick Thistle got back to winning ways with a 4-1 win over Falkirk. The first division title race will probably be the most intriguing issue in the Scottish leagues for the rest of the season.

In the second division, Queen of the South are eighteen points ahead after a 3-1 win over Forfar whilst second placed Alloa drew 1-1 with East Fife. In the third division Rangers are nineteen points ahead after a 1-0 win at Peterhead, Fran Sandaza getting the goal.
A word on Gordon Strachan, who was recently appointed Scotland manager – good luck, you’ll need it.

Next week’s fixtures are intriguing, with Celtic facing Dundee United on Tuesday, and the league cup semi-finals taking most of next weekend’s attention, as Hearts face Inverness at Easter Road on Saturday, and St. Mirren facing Celtic at Hampden next week. The Stramash will be back next week with reports on those games and all the other action in Scottish Football.