The Betfred Group stage reached it's penultimate stage this mid-week with some teams playing their final game and the qualification for the knock-out phase started to take shape.
At Shielfield we entertained Falkirk looking to stop the tidal wave of goals flying by Sean Brennan. Falkirk arrived having won,drawn and lost in their previous three games looking for a victory, and probably expecting one, to give themselves any chance of qualification. The new look Bairns were backed by a decent away support on a glorious summer night and had a core of experience running through the team with Paul Dixon, Morgaro Gomis and Aidan Connolly all with top league experience and loan signing Declan McManus looking to continue his scoring form since arrival. It would only take 13 minutes for McManus to get on the scoresheet with a neat header after being given space in the box. With Dream Team fans fearing another long night ahead getting to half-time without conceding any further goals there was a sense of relief all around. The Dream Team competed well in midfield with some meaty challenges going in from both sides, although Falkirk fan in front of me seemed to think there was only one team of 'hammer throwers'. Falkirk started the second half like a team who had received a stern half-time team talk from boss McKinnon creating several chances before Robbie Leitch cleverly chipped a rebound from the bar past Brennan in the 51st minute. Falkirk remained on top but with Berwick competing but lacking any cutting edge and Denny Johnstone added a third in the 75th minute following a defensive mix up. Berwick ended the game with a decent spell, passing the ball around but lacking any real threat in the box.
A much better performance from Berwick with the team starting to take a bit of shape and being more competitive in midfield. There were still some silly mistakes which need to be ironed out and we desperately need a front man who can work the box and put defenders under pressure.
The other game in Group G saw Livingston win 2-1 at Stranraer with goals from Lawless an Souda in a three minute spell just before half-time before Elliot pulled one back for Stranraer in the 57th minute. Those results leave Livvy top of the group on 8 points with Falkirk second on seven having finished their games. A win for Livvy on Saturday against us will see them qualify, with Ayr hoping a win over Stranraer will see them grab one of best second place positions, or first if we spring a surprise.
Once again Group H proved the group for surprises with East Kilbride providing another shock winning 1-0 at Edinburgh City thanks to a 71st minute Brady goal. St Mirren's troublesome run against lower league opposition continued as they were held to a goalless draw at Albion Rovers, the Buddies winning the penalty shoot out 4-3. This was the final game for St Mirren and they are now out as they cannot be one of the best second place teams. Dunfermline face East Kilbride at East End Park on Saturday with the winners guaranteed a place in the knock-out, a draw will be enough for The Pars even if they lose the penalty shoot-out.
The other major surprise of Tuesday night saw East Fife leave Tannadice with a 2-0 victory. Goals in each half from Dunsmore and Watt giving them the victory. Meanwhile a double from Craig Halkett in the last 8 minutes saw Hearts come back from going a goal down to Stenhousemuir, Mark McGuigan having scored in the 77th minute. These results leave Hearts top knowing a win or a draw at East Fife will see them through, with the Fifer's knowing a win will do the same for them. Dundee United sit Saturday out and will be left sweating on results elsewhere to see if they can be one of the qualifying second place teams.
Ross County ended their group games with four wins out of four, beating Forfar 2-0 thanks to a Graham double. In the same group St Johnstone had a four nil win over Brechin. Forfar face St Johnstone in the final game to decide second place.
Group F featured another epic penalty shoot out after Queen's Park travelled to Airdrieonians and fought out a 2-2 draw, Queen's twice taking the lead. The shoot out ending in a 12-11 victory for the home side, both teams having missed one in the first eleven penalties. Partick defeated Clyde 3-2 at Firhill to win the group. Second place will be decided when Hamilton visit Airdrieonians on Saturday.
Hibs ran out 3-0 winners over Arbroath at Easter Road to grab top spot in the group. Kamberi, Allan (p) and Murray scoring. While Alloa came from behind to get a 2-1 win over Stirling. Hibs travel to Elgin on Friday night knowing a win will see them through while Arbroath host Alloa hoping t secure a best second place.
An eventful night for Mitch Megginson as Cove pushed Inverness CT all the way. Jordan White gave ICT the lead in the 38th minute before goals from Megginson right on either side of half-time turned the game on its head. James Keatings equalised for ICT before Nikolay Todorov grabbed a winner for ICT. Megginson capped his night by being sent off two minutes later and there was still time for Cove to have a goal disallowed. The other game saw Peterhead finish their campaign with a 3-1 defeat away at Raith Rovers ending any chance of qualification. The group will be decided on Sunday when Inverness travel to Dens to face a Dundee side they are level on points with.
Morton kept a degree of pressure on Motherwell with a comfortable 5-0 win at Annan with doubles from Nesbitt and Nicky Cadden and one from Miurhead. Motherwell meanwhile won 2-0 at Dumbarton to stay three points clear at the top. The final games see Morton at oem to Queen of the South with Motherwell hosting Annan.