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5 young stars to look out for in the Lowland League

The Scottish Lowland League is already in full swing with clubs having played between eight and ten games thus far in 2022/23. 

Rangers B and East Kilbride currently lead the way with the former three ahead of the latter on goal difference and despite having a close title race, the Lowland League is also a division which possesses a plethora of young talent. 

Thus in this piece, we’ll be examining five young, high-potential players you should be keeping your eye on from the league throughout the rest of the current campaign. 

Without further ado, let’s begin. 

Rocco Vata – Celtic B

One of the most stirring talents in the Celtic academy ranks right now is Rocco Vata. Son of former Hoops first team star Rudi, Vata has been at Lennoxtown since he was fourteen. 

An attacking minded player, the now seventeen-year-old is most effective out wide, being able to amply play on either flank. He possesses a sharp turn of pace, mazy dribbling ability and mean finish. All of these attributes were put on show in pre-season as Vata broke in behind the opposition defence to score his first goal for Celtic’s senior team with a delightful finish into the top corner. 

However, after this, the Hoops’ first team stars begun to be drafted back in ahead of the 2022/23 season and Vata went back to turning out for the B side. And so far in the current Lowland League campaign, the Ireland Under-18’s international has made nine appearances, scoring three goals and assisting one. Vata has also played in the SPFL Trust Trophy and UEFA Youth League so far this season, adding another goal to his tally in his three matches in both of these competitions. 

Despite still being only seventeen, the Irishman will have genuine aspirations of breaking into the Celtic first team in the coming seasons. Ange Postecoglou clearly sees him as a standout prospect due to the aforementioned pre-season opportunity he gave Vata although for now, continuing to build up minutes in the Lowland League as well as gain invaluable experience in the UEFA Youth League will be hugely beneficial for the young attacker ahead of a potential loan to a higher level in 2023/24. 

Picture: Glasgow Times

Robbie Ure – Rangers B

After looking at one youngster from Celtic B, it is only natural we list one from the B side of their Glasgow rivals Rangers. 

Whilst Zak Lovelace and Arron Lyall are prominent talents, centre forward Robbie Ure is who we’re going to speak about. 

At Rangers since he was a boy, Ure is now eighteen and knocking on the door of Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s first team having netted once in his only senior appearance against Queen of the South in the Premier Sports Cup at the end of August. 

For the B team, though, the now Scotland Under-19’s international has been a regular in the past year and has made nine appearances in all competitions so far this season, scoring two goals and assisting four in these games. 

Standing at 6”2, Ure provides a fair presence up top and with the issues Rangers currently face up top in the senior team, one imagines there could be an opportunity for the teenager to register yet more first team minutes, especially with the sheer amount of matches the Ibrox club will be playing over the next few months. 

Picture: Rangers FC

Aiden Gilmartin – Cowdenbeath 

Currently on loan at Cowdenbeath from St. Mirren, Aiden Gilmartin is a seventeen-year-old centre forward. 

After coming through the ranks at the Paisley club, Gilmartin made his first team debut at the age of just sixteen and is one of the most highly rated prospects at the SMISA Stadium. 

His temporary club currently sit fifteenth in the Lowland League table after relegation from Scottish League Two last campaign however Gilmartin has still managed to make a respectable start to 2022/23 with the Blue Brazil. In twelve appearances in all competitions, the Scot has scored four goals, all of which have come in his last four league matches. 

On average for Cowdenbeath this season, Gilmartin nets every 225 minutes and if he is to keep up this ratio, the teenage striker could end up having a vastly impressive goalscoring season in only his first in senior football. 

Picture: David Wardle

Dylan MacDonald – East Kilbride 

East Kilbride currently trail leaders of the Lowland League, Rangers B, by only three goals on goal difference and one youngster who has played quite a bit for Kevin Rutkiewicz’s side so far this season is Dylan MacDonald. 

After being in St. Mirren’s academy for a number of years, MacDonald spent the second half of the 2021/22 campaign on loan at East Stirling after a brief eleven-day spell with the club a year prior. 

This summer, however, the eighteen-year-old joined East Kilbride permanently on a free transfer from St. Mirren, knowing he would get consistent game time at the club. 

And this is a guarantee which has certainly transpired with MacDonald playing nine out of East Kilbride’s ten Lowland League matches so far this season. 

Throughout the rest of the campaign, the teenage right back will look to continue to gain experience whilst also aspiring to help his new side move up the divisions in Scotland. 

Luke Rathie – Hearts B

Joining Celtic and Rangers in entering B teams into the Lowland League this season was Hearts. As a result, there is a plethora of talent to look at from the young Jambos side and one such player we’ve picked out is Luke Rathie. 

Rathie made the move to Tynecastle in July 2021 from Edinburgh City on a free transfer and a year later, was promoted to the B squad from the Under-18’s twelve months before he was due to. 

At just seventeen years old, Rathie has already been on the bench for the Hearts first team on a few occasions and was registered in Robbie Neilson’s squad for the 2022/23 Europa Conference League group stage campaign. 

However, it is for the B team the centre back has made all of his Hearts appearances for this season having played ninety minutes in all of their Lowland League games up to this point – the fact he is doing so already at the age he is goes to show the sheer potential Rathie possesses and it will be intriguing to see if he can make inroads to the first team in Gorgie any time soon. 

Picture: Mark Scates – SNS Group



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