SPL Stock Watch: Who Rose, Who Fell This Weekend?
The Scottish Cup took center stage this past weekend, with nine of the SPL's 12 clubs still left in the competition.
Dundee United impressed in Saturday's lunchtime kickoff with a comfortable 3-0 win over Third Division-side Rangers at Tannadice before Kilmarnock and St. Mirren recorded home victories against Inverness Caley Thistle and St. Johnstone respectively.
Sunday saw a relatively routine 3-0 win for Celtic away to Raith Rovers, while Dundee hammered Morton at Dens Park, and Hibernian edged out Aberdeen in a cagey contest at Easter Road.
In the SPL, the only fixture of the weekend saw Hearts draw 2-2 against Ross County at Tynecastle.
Let's take a look at whose stock went up, and who had a weekend they'd rather forget.
Photo courtesy of www.kilmarnockfc.co.uk
Paul Heffernan scored 15 goals for Kilmarnock last season in all competitions but has found it difficult to get quite so many starts this time around.
On Saturday it was much the same, and he had to settle for a place on the bench before Cillian Sheridan's injury shortly after halftime saw him called into action.
The Irishman fired home the opening goal of the game after a mix-up in the Inverness Caley defence caused the ball to break loose. He added a second with five minutes to go on the subtlest of back-heels to guide the ball past Ryan Esson.
It is unclear whether or not Sheridan's injury will rule him out for a considerable period of time, but should this be the case, Heffernan will grasp the opportunity for a first-team place with both hands.
His double on Saturday suggests he is already keen to make up for lost time.
Photo courtesy of www.afc.co.uk
Jonny Hayes was a much-celebrated arrival at Pittodrie during the close season after an impressive period at ICT where he scored 25 goals in 96 games.
For the most part, he has been able to continue that sort of form under Craig Brown at Aberdeen.
Yet over the past couple of weeks, they have been finding goals hard to come by, and it is times like these where they turn to their more creative players for some inspiration.
Hayes is someone who Aberdeen hope can create opportunities with his dribbling and his drive going forward. On Sunday, however, he found it difficult to get into the game against Hibernian and didn't have the sort of impact we've come to expect.
Photo courtesy of STV Sport
Since his arrival in Paisley just before the transfer window closed last week there has been quite a buzz around Isma Goncalves.
His opener in his side's shock League Cup semifinal win over Celtic last Sunday hinted at the potential the striker has, and he doubled his tally with a goal against Inverness Caley at St. Mirren Park on Wednesday night.
On Saturday, Goncalves gave no indication that he's slowing down, and after a first half in which St. Johnstone had the better of play, he scored two goals within just seven minutes of each other to put his side into the next round.
A powerfully built striker with an excellent first touch and a genuine eye for goal, Goncalves is only on loan at St. Mirren from Portuguese side Rio Ave.
But with a League Cup final and a Scottish Cup quarterfinal still to be played, Isma could very well write his way into St. Mirren folklore.
Photo courtesy of www.dailyrecord.co.uk
It hasn't really been the best of weeks for ICT's Billy McKay.
Just nine days ago, his team were looking good in all three competitions, but in that time, they have crashed out of both the League Cup and the Scottish Cup, with a disappointing defeat to St. Mirren in between.
McKay's open-goal miss was arguably the most incredible moment in last Saturday's semifinal defeat to Hearts, but if he was looking to make amends this week and help his team progress, he'll have been disappointed.
ICT look to McKay for goals, and with good reason—he's scored 21 so far this campaign.
However, on Saturday he was found wanting. When his side needed him to deliver, he wasn't able to make it happen.
No one should be judging McKay on a one-off game, but he'll be hoping he can put the disappointment of this past week behind him and concentrate on securing second place in the league.
Mark Runnacles/Getty Images
Russell might have missed out on being named in Gordon Strachan's first squad as Scotland manager during the week, but he showed no sign that it was bothering him in Saturday's Scottish Cup win over The Rangers at Tannadice.
His goal after just fifteen seconds—a low drive which just evaded Neil Alexander after a deft touch to get away from Ross Perry and Sanchez Cribari who had, admittedly, run into each other—settled any nerves United might have had going into a game in which they were massive favourites.
Then, 11 minutes before time Jon Daly played him through on goal yet again, and with trademark composure, Russell poked the ball home calmly to put the tie beyond doubt.
He may have gone off the boil for a period in which he played six SPL games without managing a goal, but Russell's hat-trick against Kilmarnock a couple weeks back and his double on Saturday show that he is back on form.
United might struggle to keep hold of him in the summer once the serious offers start coming in (those received in January were derisory), but for the time being, they will enjoy having him up front banging in goals.