Cove Rangers v Partick Thistle
Partick Thistle are coming off the back of a bleak autumn period that saw them inexplicably turn from league leaders into whipping boys. The Japs suffered six successive defeats in all competitions, conceding goals freely and looking a shadow of their former selves. They have, though, started to recover thanks to a win over Arbroath and a Scottish Cup win over Kelty.
The one thing that these games have had in common has been goals. Each of their last seven matches in all competitions have seen at least three scored – often by the same team. Although they have kept back-to-back clean sheets, they have a defence that has kept only one shutout on the road since the beginning of the season in all competitions.
Cove Rangers, meanwhile, have generally been involved in high-scoring matches in the league this season. In their last 14 league games, 10 have produced more than two goals. Of those that have not seen much in the way of goalmouth action, these have come against opponents who have typically been involved in low-scoring games themselves, such as Inverness and Arbroath.
Partick, on the other hand, have seen 60 goals scored in their 16 matches this season, by a small margin the highest figure in the league. Cove, meanwhile, stand fourth in this regard and are averaging well over three goals per game.
When these sides met at Firhill in September, Cove snatched a 2-2 draw. Expect this one to be similarly packed with goals.
Queen’s Park v Hamilton Academical
Queen’s Park and Hamilton is a fixture between two sides in contrasting form, with the home team in much the better state coming into this encounter.
QP are on a three-match winning streak thanks to victories over Inverness, Raith Rovers and Peterhead. By contrast, Hamilton have lost eight of their last nine in the league, picking up just four points as they have slipped to the bottom of the standings. Defensively, the Lanarkshire side have been woeful, conceding at least three goals in three of their last four, which does not bode well against a Queen’s side that has netted at least twice in four of its last five league matches and should have a full squad of players available for this game.
It is worth noting that this match will be played at Hampden. While this is Queen’s Park’s traditional home, their matches have been played at Stenhousemuir’s ground of Ochilview this season while QP’s new ground next door to the home of Scottish football is built. Queen’s played at the venue last season but this will be a new experience for the new members of the squad, so just what impact it might have is unclear.
What is evident, though, is that Queen’s have a decent recent record on grass, having won 5-2 at Raith Rovers last time out and 4-0 against Partick Thistle on October 22, their last two meetings on the surface. By contrast, Accies have lost their four of their last five on the surface in the league.
Queen’s won this fixture 2-0 in Hamilton in September and should have too much for their opponents again.
Dunfermline v Queen of the South
Dunfermline might not be noted for their high-scoring home games in League One, but the signs point to a more entertaining match against Queen of the South at East End Park on Saturday. For one, Dunfermline’s last four home matches across all competitions have produced at least 2.5 goals, with a 2-2 draw against bottom side Clyde last time out in the league.
Perhaps the most important factor in this being an unexpectedly high-scoring game, though, is Queen of the South’s recent record. The Dumfries side have had a bitterly disappointing campaign to date, putting the pressure on manager Willie Gibson, with their recent form particularly erratic. In their last five matches, at least one team has scored three goals. In this period, they have played four of League One’s top-five teams, with Dunfermline that remaining side.
Queens have struggled to defend effectively in recent times, and though Dunfermline have not been prolific scorers at home, this is largely because well-organised teams sit in against them. There is little to suggest their visitors are capable of such a feat after their last two away games have finished in a 4-1 loss to Morton in the Scottish Cup and a 5-1 reverse to Alloa in the league.
On the other hand, the guests will pose a scoring threat largely thanks to Lewis Gibson, the manager’s son, who has scorer or assisted in all of the only five senior starts he has ever made.
It would buck the trend of recent Queens matches if this was to be uneventful.
Bonnyrigg v Dumbarton
League Two leaders Dumbarton should have the measure of out-of-form Bonnyrigg when they make the trip to West Lothian on Saturday. After all, the Sons have a strong away record this season, winning five of their last eight matches, while they also defeated struggling League One side Clyde in the Scottish Cup last weekend.
Having come through a sticky October, Dumbarton have won five of their six matches in all competitions, including four away trips. Furthermore, they also edged Bonnyrigg 1-0 when the sides met in September.
Bonnyrigg, meanwhile, are in a woeful period. Three wins and a draw in their first five matches of the season pointed to the prospect of a strong first season of league football for the New Central Park side, but the momentum has gone from their promotion season and reality has hit home in recent weeks. They have won only one of their last five matches in all competitions.
Some caution may be exercised prior to this game for two reasons. Firstly, Bonnyrigg have picked up draws in each of their last two matches, holding Forfar and Stenhousemuir to 1-1 draws. Secondly, their pitch is one of the trickiest in the league and after a period of bad weather, it remains to be seen what kind of condition it is in.
Home advantage has been non-existent for Bonnyrigg in recent weeks, though. They have lost their last three home fixtures and have conceded a total of 11 times in those matches, which came against mid-table opponents. League leaders Dumbarton should extend that run.
Elgin v Stenhousemuir
Elgin City and Stenhousemuir are the two teams in League Two whose games have produced the most goals this season. Each of these clubs has seen an astonishing 56 goals in their 15 matches to date this season, averaging just under a shade of four per game. Logic follows, then, that this should be a high-scoring affair.
Seven of Elgin’s last eight matches in League Two have produced at least three goals. Indeed, five of these fixtures have seen at least four goals. Stenhousemuir are similarly involved in goal-laden fixtures. Their 1-1 home draw against Bonnyrigg a fortnight ago ended a run of seven successive league matches that had produced at least four goals.
That run for the Warriors began against Elgin, when the sides played out a 3-3 draw at Ochilview in the middle of September. Although this was a particularly prolific example, matches between these clubs in recent seasons have typically been games in which there have been goals. Five of the last six meetings between the clubs have yielded at least three goals.
Stenhousemuir, meanwhile, are on a run of 12 successive league fixtures in which both teams have scored. This is available at 1.47 for this particular match, but goals should arrive in significant volume in this match, and backing over 2.5 at 1.57 appears excellent value. A slightly longer punt is over 3.5 goals, which is on offer at 2.45, but given the volume of strikes in matches involving these teams, this does not seem unreasonable.
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