Saturday afternoon football returns this weekend with a host of 3PM kick-offs in the Scottish League Cup first round group phase. Let’s hope it can help us start 2017-18 with a bang.
We’re backing three teams to all open their accounts with a win. If they do, we’ll be celebrating to the tune of £48.70 from a £10 stake, which wouldn’t be a bad way to get the campaign up and running.
Here are our selections.
Dundee United v Raith Rovers
Group C is set to be very interesting indeed, and Saturday’s match at Tannadice, where Raith Rovers are the visitors is one that should provide bags of entertainment. Not least if Ray McKinnon’s men perform to their potential.
The Scottish Championship will be looking for a big season after missing out on promotion in the play-offs, and these League Cup matches will be the perfect opportunity to build momentum. After beating Raith via a 3-0 scoreline when they last entertained the visitors back in February, the Terrors should be confident.
After all, the away side will be playing in the third tier following relegation in 2016-17. The new manager may use these upcoming games as a chance to learn more about his squad and, frankly, that could cost them dearly in terms of the result here.
The gulf in quality isn’t vast, but it’s more than enough to fancy the hosts. Home win.
Inverness CT v Brechin City
Inverness Caley Thistle may have suffered relegation from the Scottish Premiership last term, but they’ll be expected to have a much better time of things in 2017-18 – starting with a win against Brechin.
The two sides will be playing each other in the league this year as Brechin gained promotion to the Scottish Championship via the play-offs. However, their respective goals will be polar opposites. That quality, combined with the fact this clash is at the Tulloch Caldeonian Stadium gives us every reason to side with the hosts.
John Robertson should do a better job than predecessor Richie Foran. Even if this is an opportunity to try out new faces and tactics, they should have enough quality to start the campaign in style. In truth, their biggest hurdle is getting out of the losing momentum. That change of management should be just the tonic.
The odds could be slightly better, but we’re still backing Caley Thistle to prevail.
Livingston v Partick Thistle
Patrick endured a terrible end to last season, picking up just one point from their final five matches. It is worth noting, however, that they were in the top half following the Scottish Premiership’s split, so a home game against Scottish Championship side Livingston should give them a chance to draw a line under that sequence by starting 2017-18 with a bang.
The trip to the Tony Macaroni won’t be easy, but Alan Archibald’s side does boast a good level of quality. Long-serving star man Kris Doolan enjoyed a fantastic campaign in 2016-17, and will be eager to open his account. Even if he doesn’t, someone in the away side should grab the goals.
Livingston were brilliant last term as they won the Scottish League One title. However, this is a step up in quality, and it is is likely to show in spite of the momentum being carried over. A strong start by the hosts could make things tough for Partick. Then again, if the top tier side get their noses in front, they should have the quality to maintain it.
It’s a tricky test for the visitors. Still, we expect them to pass it with flying colours.