Whilst SPL clubs have been starting their league campaign whilst falling out of European competition quicker than a queue at a Katie Price book signing SFL clubs have had cups like buses. Wait ages for one and two turn up!
Having despatched the first round of the Ramsdens Cup they are now on duty for the Communities Cup – League Cup in old money. Dunfermline are in the first round even though they are now in the SPL but the draw, now that we have seen our teams in competitive action last week for the first time, becomes even more interesting than when it was first drawn all those weeks ago.
Airdrie United v Stirling Albion – Last weekend Jimmy Boyle had the humiliation of a 5-0 drubbing by Livingston whilst the Binos did enough to get past Highland League outfit Deveronvale pretty comfortably. Boyle had to watch his side get heavily beaten with half of his squad on a treatment table, this weekend may be no different, although David Lilley is likely to get his first start for the Diamonds. Jocky Scott has the same squad as last week and a win from last week may be significant. Expect one that is difficult to predict!
Albion Rovers v Falkirk – The wee Rovers are already out the Ramsdens Cup, having lost to Annan at home last week so they will be looking for a wee giant killing act this weekend. Falkirk meanwhile dispatched Brechin City last week and this week should add another Second Division scalp to their record. The home dressing room is the one that has absentees through injury.
Alloa Athletic v Morton – Alloa will have watched the demolition of Stranraer last week by Morton and wonder if they are in for the same treatment. They lost out in penalties to Peterhead last week and will hope to get close enough to Morton to give them a fright. Morton have the more significant injury worries but that was the same story last week…. Expect Allan Moore to be the one smiling at the end of 90 minutes.
Annan Athletic v Dunfermline Athletic – The SPL versus the Third Division. Surely Dunfermline will go through… Annan got their revenge on Albion Rovers last week but this is a much bigger ask. Dunfermline have made their debut against St Mirren in a fairly dull game but they should got through without much worry.
Brechin City v Clyde – This is a curious tie and you would think that Jim Weir should guide Brechin through but both sides went out last weekend though Clyde fell at the penalties hurdle. Brechin are buoyed by returning injured and suspended players whilst Clyde have taken heart from their performance last week rather than the result. I would expect this to go either way and maybe even be settled after 90 minutes.
Cowdenbeath v Stenhousemuir – The Fife derby where Cowdenbeath have major defensive worries – Mbu pulling up in training with O’Brien and Droudge are out along with McKay. Stenhousemuir have no reported worries so start slight favourites. Both sides lost 2-1 to First Division opposition last week so the form guide has nothing to teach us!
Dumbarton v Dundee – Dundee got through last week but in Manager Barry Smith’s own words – played poorly. They needed extra time to get past Second Division new comers whilst Dumbarton put out East Stirling. Both are reporting no major worries for their squads and it is hard to see past Dundee for this one.
East Fife v Elgin City – Both sides should fancy this but I fancy Robbo at East Fife has the wherewithal to see his side through. East Fife put six past Third Division opposition last week whilst Elgin proved they were no mugs putting First Division Ross County out 2-1. No major worries for either side though Steven Hyslop is out for the home side.
East Stirlingshire v Ayr United – Two seasons or so ago this was the Challenge Cup tie Ayr were ten minutes away from winning 1-0 only to be beaten 2-1. Last week Ayr put Queen of the South out whilst East Stirling were dumped out by Dumbarton though they did claw their way back into the tie after going 2 down. East Stirling are fully fit, Ayr are without Tiffoney who is suspended. An away win.
Forfar Athletic v Peterhead – On paper this looks like a home win but Peterhead showed last week dogged determination to go through on penalties against highly fancied Alloa. Forfar on the other hand, had the same result but had very different opposition – Highland League side Buckie Thistle. This should be a home win but don’t be surprised if Peterhead are in the draw come Tuesday. Both squads have additions from last week to strengthen them.
Livingston v Arbroath – Two promoted sides up against each other – should be a home win but Arbroath are a tidy side last year – Paul Sheerin will fancy this one, especially after running Dundee close last week. Gary Bollan meanwhile had an impressive 5-0 win against Airdrie United and should prove too string for the Second Division newcomers. What will help Livingston’s cause is they have added to their squad whilst Gavin Swankie for Arbroath is injured alongside Beau Busch, their Australian defender.
Montrose v Raith Rovers – Montrose had a 6-1 thumping last week and any result that is not as bad as that could be seen as an improvement. Raith on the other hand came away with a 2-1 victory in their Fife derby against Cowdenbeath so this should be an away win. Montrose won the pre season friendly between the two sides and to be honest that should be the benchmark for Rovers rather than the pummelling Ray Farningham’s side took last weekend. Still should be an away win though…
Partick Thistle v Berwick Rangers – Partick Thistle dispatched Stenhousemuir whilst Berwick took penalties to get rid of Clyde last weekend. On paper this looks like a home win and Jackie McNamara will be hoping for straightforward passage through. Berwick went 2 up against Clyde and then let them back in it and Jimmy Crease is asking his side for 90 minutes worth of concentration. I think that 90 minutes will be all it takes and Partick will come away with a win. All the squad problems are with Berwick.
Queen of the South v Stranraer – As a derby this has a little bit of added spice and Gus McPherson will want to bounce back from their defeat to Ayr United last week whilst bouncing back from an 8-0 defeat for Stranraer may be a step too far for the South West side. The doubts over two of his strikers means that Stranraer boss, Keith Knox may well be hoping that a decent performance elsewhere on the pitch is a success rather than beating higher level opposition.
Ross County v Queen’s Park – Derek Adams presided over a defeat against Elgin City last week and this week will be hoping he can bounce back against the Spiders. Queens Park were also put out the competition last week but a home defeat to Hamilton Academicals was hardly earth shattering. Both report no squad issues so this should see Derek Adams triumphant at the end of the game. If not, questions will begin to be phrased – not least from his family who may be asking – why did we leave Edinburgh?