I have gone for an away win in the big match at Tynecastle. When I look at the remaining fixtures, a case can be made for away wins in them all. I will look at them from that viewpoint, starting from the most likely and ending with the least likely. Will I go for a full card of away wins?
My first port of call is at Paisley where ST. MIRREN v MOTHERWELL. I listened to Danny Lennon’s interview yesterday and although he made all the right noises, I could not help but be reminded of Tony Mowbray’s interviews in his hapless time as Celtic manager. I like Lennon, and hope he gets the Saints back on track – keeping his job while doing so! I fear that may not start today, however, if at all!
His opposing manager is Stuart McCall, an integral part of the Scotland management team victorious in midweek. He has also worked wonders at Motherwell in the past few seasons. I have stated previously that Motherwell’s squad was the one most seriously weakened from last season. Despite this the Steelmen sit third in the table, having amassed nine points. McCall will surely view today’s match as a great opportunity of adding another three points to that tally.
For this afternoon’s clash Saints’ defender Lee Mair may be recalled to the squad. On the subject of defenders, Motherwell could be struggling to fill the right back berth today, Simon Ramsden is suspended and Fraser Kerr is injured.
Prediction: One solitary point is what St Mirren have achieved so far this season. I don’t see a change in that total this evening. An away win for Motherwell.
At Rugby Park, KILMARNOCK v INVERNESS CALEY THISTLE in a match where the visitors must surely arrive in a very confident frame of mind. Terry Butcher’s undefeated side sit proudly at the top of the league with no injury worries for today’s encounter. Winless KIlmarnock, however, have some injury doubts although Dundee United loanee Michael Gardyne, may get some game time today.
Killie lie third bottom on two points. ICT, on the other hand HAVE DROPPED ONLY TWO POINTS – in an excellent 2-2 draw at Celtic Park.
Prediction: Not much thought required – an away win for ICT.
I feel very strongly about the chances of away victories in the three matches previewed so far. I stated at the start there was a case to be made for an away win in all six matches. My opinions on the final three games with regards to this are nowhere near as certain. Two of the matches are this afternoon and tomorrow has Dundee Utd at Ross County. That last match coincidentally falls into the least likeliest of the six. I will therefore look at today’s remaining games to begin with.
At Firhill, PARTICK THISTLE v ABERDEEN in what looks like being a tightly fought contest this afternoon. The Dons were my pre season tip to finish second to Celtic. If they are going to do this it is matches like today where they need to start picking up points.
They will have to try this without the service of the influential Niall McGinn, injured in midweek when on international duty. Russell Anderson also joins him along with Robson, Clark and Flood in a lengthy injury list, which must be given headaches to manager Derek McInnes. On the bright side Jonny Hayes is fit and Andy Considine may make a return after breaking his leg last December. Thistle’s only injury doubt is Conrad Balatoni while Aberdeen old boy Isaac Osbourne may get a game against his former club.
If Aberdeen were able to field their strongest team I wouldn’t hesitate in choosing them for the win. They clearly can’t do that but Derek McInnes has belief in the youngsters in his squad.
Prediction: This probably looks more like a draw but I think The Dons will want to get back on track and I take Aberdeen for an away win.
This afternoon’s final match is at Perth, where ST JOHNSTONE v HIBERNIAN. A few weeks ago I would have had this as a no brainer home win. I would possibly have thought that Pat Fenlon would have been sacked by now. This is not the case, although a run of a few defeats could put the Hibs’ manager staring at the dole queue. St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright faces no such pressure – well not at the moment anyway. Football is such a fickle game!
The Saints’ coach has only one real decision to make for this afternoon’s match – who plays between the sticks. Regular keeper Alan Mannus may be ready for a return but Steve Banks has been an able deputy. For Hibs, there may be starts for Paul Heffernan and Abdellah Zoubir and the influential Kevin Thomson is available after suspension.
Prediction: The bedrock for the Saints has been there home form. Hibs, still missing some influential players, are unbeaten in three matches. I am sticking my neck out for a Hibs win!