Scottish football: Three-way battle for Premier safety

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The Independent Online
Thousands of Scottish spectators are in for a nervous hour and a half today as Kilmarnock, Motherwell and Hibernian all battle for their Bell's League Premier Division status. These three clubs are scrambling to avoid a two-legged play-off against the First Division runners-up, Airdrie, later this month that will decide the remaining top-flight place for next season.

Motherwell's manager, Alex McLeish, whose side gave themselves the chance to save their Premier place with Monday's unexpected 2-0 win at Rangers, says he feels for his fellow managers, Jim Duffy of Hibernian and Kilmarnock's Bobby Williamson. "I have sympathy for Jim and Bobby, but I can only worry about myself. It's every man for himself," McLeish said.

Williamson said: "It will be an afternoon of high anxieties at three grounds across the country and, while you don't wish it on anyone, you only think about yourself. If you are in the play-off you still have a chance of surviving, but we're not thinking about that just yet."

The Scottish Cup finalists Kilmarnock, a point clear of the other two strugglers, entertain Aberdeen at Rugby Park, Motherwell are at home to Dunfermline, while Hibernian visit relegated Raith Rovers. If all three win, Kilmarnock and Motherwell will survive.

Hibernian have selection problems for the trip to managerless Raith, with Chic Charnley and Kevin Harper both suspended, Chris Jackson injured and Willie Miller and Pat McGinlay both doubtful.

The other promotion place to be decided is in the Third Division, where Ross County will try to overtake Forfar Athletic for the runners-up place behind Inverness Caledonian Thistle.