Motherwell v Rangers (Premiership)
Motherwell’s past meetings with Rangers this season have been curious affairs. Twice the Steelmen have gone to Ibrox and have picked up a point, including a 2-2 draw in February in which they fought back from a two-goal deficit at the break to earn the draw. Their previous Fir Park experience against the Gers, though, was a resounding 6-1 loss.
The common theme in these games has been goals and excitement, and that should continue on Saturday – a match moved forward 24 hours to give Rangers an extra day’s rest before a Europa League semi-final with RB Leipzig on Thursday.
This, of course, benefits the defending champions, who will be able to direct more of their focus and energy towards this encounter. It should also take the edge off any rotation that Giovanni van Bronckhorst might have been tempted by.
Rangers come into this match on a high after beating Celtic after extra-time in the Scottish Cup last Sunday and Braga in Europe before then. They have not always coped with the challenge of returning to their bread-and-butter business particularly well and it would be little surprise to see Motherwell push them in this game.
With Rangers’ defence vulnerable – they have kept only one clean sheet in their last seven – goals at both ends in this encounter look likely as Van Bronckhorst’s men chase a win that will keep the title race alive.
Motherwell, too, have scored in their last six matches against Rangers, four of which have produced at least three goals. Look for that trend to continue.
Dundee United v Hearts (Premiership)
Hearts find themselves in the strange situation of having nothing to play for with five matches of the season remaining. Although there are 15 points on the board still to be won, Hearts will finish third, regardless if they win all of these matches or lose them all, such is their strangely marooned position in the Scottish Premiership.
Instead, the focus with the Edinburgh side will be on being at their maximum for next month’s Scottish Cup final after defeating Hibs 2-1 at Hampden last Saturday.
It was not a victory that came without cost. Andy Halliday, Craig Halkett and Stephen Kingsley all picked up issues and have added to their extensive injury concerns.
In contrast to their visitors, meanwhile, Dundee United still have the carrot of fourth place in the league to chase. They are just a point better off than Ross County and Motherwell, who play the Old Firm over the weekend, and a victory in this encounter would give them a healthy boost to their challenge.
The Tangerines have a strong home record, too. They last lost at home in the league in January and since then have played four of their five top six rivals, the exception being Celtic. Indeed, they hosted Hearts as recently as March 5, when a second-half goal from the visitors denied them victory.
With just one defeat in their last nine in the league, expect the home side to keep that run going against their depleted guests.
Peterhead v East Fife (League One)
Peterhead will be aiming to finish the season on a high in front of their home support on Saturday. The Blue Toon have charged away from the relegation spots and have already secured their survival, winning three of their last four matches and drawing the other.
Although they are ailing in the league standings in eighth, they post a strong home record. With seven wins from their 17 home games to date, only three teams in the whole division can boast of better.
Conversely, East Fife have the worst away record in the league by miles. From 17 matches, they have picked up a meagre six points, losing on 13 occasions and having a goal difference that is -29. Things are unlikely to improve for the guests in this match.
Already relegated, morale must be at a low in the East Fife camp, while a huge number of injury problems will not help them ahead of this trip. It could be a chance to rest out some young players before next season’s League Two campaign.
Peterhead, meanwhile, appear to be buzzing, despite having little to play for. Manager Jim McInally has spoken of the competitive atmosphere his side have had at training this week and has praised the attitude of his players. Additionally, many of their recent injury problems have cleared up, with key midfielder Hamish Ritchie back for this game.
The home side have not won any of their four meetings against East Fife this season – but look for them to put that right on Saturday in what they will be using as another incentive for victory.
Clyde v Airdrie (League One)
Clyde manager Danny Lennon has absolutely maximised every ounce of potential his limited squad has this season and has dragged them to a position of safety with two games of the season remaining. On Saturday, they will be aiming to secure a positive result against local rivals Airdrie in what will be their final match in Cumbernauld before moving to Hamilton. It promises to be a strange atmosphere as a result.
Recent results for Clyde have been indifferent. They have lost four of their previous six games but did pick up a 2-1 victory over third-placed Montrose last weekend, albeit their opponents on that occasion had little to play for.
The same cannot be said of Airdrie this week. The Diamonds still possess an outside shot at winning the title, albeit it will take a remarkable collapse from Cove Rangers for that to happen. Nevertheless, they will be eager to put the pressure on their rivals if they can by picking up a win.
Their form has been strong in recent times. Airdrie have won seven of their last 10 league matches, with four of those wins coming on their travels. Their away form might have been an Achilles heel at the start of the season, but that is certainly not the case now. Indeed, they have won their last four on the road against clubs who will not be going to the promotion playoffs.
With a genuine incentive to win this game, look for Airdrie to triumph.
Albion Rovers v Stirling Albion (League Two)
It’s been boom or bust for Albion Rovers at home in recent weeks when it has come to goals. Three of their last four home matches have ended scoreless, while the other was a 5-0 defeat at the hands over Stranraer. After subsequently shipping four against Stenhousemuir last weekend, they will be eager to tighten up on Saturday against Stirling.
Goals do not look on the cards for this match. With just 16 scored at home this season, only bottom side Cowdenbeath have a poorer record in this regard than the Wee Rovers. Stirling, meanwhile, are hardly prolific travellers. With 18 goals scored in 17 road trips, they are struggling to muster one per game.
Stirling’s recent away trips, too, point to a low-scoring affair. Only one of their last away games has produced more than 2.5 goals, while there have been two 0-0 draws plus a couple of 1-1s thrown in for good measure.
The previous meetings between the clubs this season were also tight. Rovers have won each of the last two by a single goal, albeit they were well outplayed by Stirling in March and were very fortunate to get the win on that occasion.
There is little incentive for either side to adopt a gung-ho attitude, and particularly from Stirling’s perspective, the idea will be to avoid finishing a disappointing season on the road with an embarrassing loss. It could make for a difficult watch.
Stenhousemuir v Stranraer (League Two)
Stenhousemuir can take their playoff challenge to the last weekend of the season if they can overcome Stranraer at home on Saturday, regardless of how Edinburgh City fare in their Friday night meeting with Annan.
The Warriors’ record in recent weeks has been strong. Only the top two teams in the league have overcome them in their last 13 league outings. Each of those defeats was only by a 1-0 margin, too. Meanwhile, when the chips have been down with regards to their playoff push, they have overcome both Elgin and Albion Rovers.
Stranraer promise to be a more awkward test, particularly given that they have not beaten the Blues in three previous matches this season – or indeed in any of their last 10 meetings – but the visiting side have nothing to play for and are cruising to the end of the season in a mid-table position.
Meanwhile, Stranraer’s form has been a good deal patchier than that of their hosts. They have lost three of their last four matches without even scoring a goal, while they have only won four times in their last 18 league outings.
They have a lengthy list of injury issues that will deplete the depth in their squad, which is in stark contrast to the home team, who should have just about everyone available.
Stranraer may hold a jinx over Stenhousemuir, but that has to end at some point, and this weekend looks as likely as ever given the stakes on the table for the hosts.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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