Stirling v Aberdeen
Tuesday’s Group A match at Forthbank pits the two leading clubs against each other. Stirling have picked up five points thanks to an away win against Dumbarton then a shock success on penalties against Raith. Aberdeen, meanwhile, have comfortable wins over Peterhead and the Sons.
The Premiership side should have too much in this match for their fourth-tier opponents. Full-time status should tell in a match like this. The temperature in Stirling is expected to be around 25C at kick-off time, which should favour the bigger team while the pitch is expected to be in immaculate condition having been re-laid over the summer. With Aberdeen having already sold a huge allocation of tickets, the ground will be dominated by visiting fans, probably by a measure of at least 3:1.
Furthermore, Aberdeen have won their two previous League Cup matches against Peterhead and Dumbarton have given up only five shots on target across those two fixtures. They have been wasteful, but they have created so many chances across these two games that it has not been a factor.
Stirling, meanwhile, have impressed in their fixtures to date but have not played an opponent nearly as good as their visitors. The Binos twice played Premiership opposition last season, losing 2-0 to Hearts at home in the League Cup and 4-0 to Rangers in the Scottish Cup. They have not scored in their last three against top-flight teams.
Aberdeen will surely win this fixture, but there is value either in backing them with a -1 handicap or by backing against both teams to score.
Dumbarton v Raith Rovers
Dumbarton round off a sequence of four games in 10 days in what is forecast to be hot conditions at home against Raith Rovers on Tuesday. The Sons are already out of the competition, despite beating Peterhead 2-0 away from home at the weekend, having lost against Stirling and Aberdeen. This is little more than a friendly match for them and would appear an opportunity to try some different things out before they face Stirling again a week on Saturday for the start of the league campaign.
Raith might have lost at home to the Binos at the weekend after a penalty shootout, but they should come into this match the fresher of the two clubs, having had last midweek off. In the steamy conditions, this should be of benefit. Meanwhile, the visitors have the incentive of knowing that if they win this match, they are likely to have at least a shot of qualifying when they play Aberdeen away at the weekend. That is not an insignificant carrot.
Team news for the Kirkcaldy side is also positive. They would appear to have a strong squad available for this match – although manager Ian Murray has acknowledged that it needs to be strengthened. Following the weekend’s defeat, he suggested his side were lying too deep, so expect them to approach this match with a good deal more positivity.
The visiting manager has good knowledge of Dumbarton, having coached against them in League One in the last two seasons – and he has an undefeated record against Stevie Farrell, winning seven and drawing three of their 10 previous meetings.
Annan v Ayr
Annan have been a surprise package in the League Cup thus far, having negotiated their first three matches of the competition undefeated. Win on Tuesday against Ayr, and the chances are they will be through to the knockout stages. Already they have unseated better-ranked opponents. Away from home, they beat Queen of the South and edged St Johnstone after penalties to claim a valuable bonus point.
They only played their first home match of the season on Saturday, but they negotiated that with ease against Elgin, running out easy 4-0 winners. After leading 3-0 after 45 minutes at the weekend, they were able to ease off in the second half, although they did lost a couple of players to knocks, putting them in doubt for this crunch fixture.
Ayr, meanwhile, are not so well placed after two home fixtures. They do stand a chance of progressing – but only because they were awarded a 3-0 home victory over Elgin after the initial tie had finished 0-0. City had played an ineligible player, so the points went to the Honest Men.
Ayr, though, have failed to score in either of their matches to date and were well beaten by Queen of the South last weekend. Prone to making errors in defence and set to chop and change in goal, there is nothing settled about this team yet and being odds-on favourites to win this match seems generous given the form of the two clubs.
Montrose v Stenhousemuir
Montrose may have lost at the weekend to Kilmarnock at home, but they still stand a chance of progressing in the League Cup. Victories, however, are required against Stenhousemuir at home on Tuesday then against Partick Thistle on the road on Saturday.
One thing that Stewart Petrie’s side have in their favour ahead of this match is an extremely settled squad of players, which should give them a significant advantage in the early stages of the season. Certainly, this was evident as they swept Fraserburgh away 4-2 last Tuesday.
Indeed, the indications are that they are willing to put a good deal of focus into this match. That was made evident as they replaced star man, Blair Lyons and Graham Webster, after going 2-0 down against Kilmarnock – a team simply too good for them – at the weekend.
Similarly, the Warriors remain in with a shout after easing past Fraserburgh 3-0 at the weekend, but given they will likely have to win this game and away to Kilmarnock on Saturday, realistically they will do well to progress. Indeed, this is their first road trip of the season and will provide a stern examination against a team that has lost only three of its last 19 home fixtures (two against opponents from a higher league and another against Cove Rangers, who won League One last season).
History also favours Montrose going into this match. They have won their last three home fixtures against the Warriors. Given they are a League One side that made the playoffs last season, their odds of evens appear generous.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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