SADLY our regular contributor Willie Duncan (@Willie_Duncan) has caught a dose of winter flu, so fellow Scot Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) tries his arm with two picks from north of the border.
Brechin v Ayr | Saturday 15:00
Taking a bit of a punt here, no scrap that, taking a massive punt here by siding with struggling Ayr at Coral‘s 4/1.
They’re up against Brechin, who sit four positions higher up the ten-team table than them and have 11 more points under their belt. The home side are unbeaten since October and have lost just once to Ayr in their last nine meetings.
The Honest Men themselves haven’t won since October and have lost 13 of their last 18 matches since late-August. It’s been a truly woeful season for the Ayrshire club as they sit second bottom of the division. You’re probably thinking, “what have you been smoking Chris?”, “what narcotic drugs have you been ingesting over the Christmas period?”. None at all, I haven’t had a drink since last Saturday and I don’t do drugs!
The reason I’m going to have a small bet on Ayr is the fact that Ian McCall has been brought in this week as their new manager. McCall has had a somewhat mixed managerial career but he’s a big character and can definitely bring some steel, grit, belief and determination into the Ayr dressing room on Saturday.
McCall had excellent spells as manager of Falkirk and Partick Thistle and held the reins at Dundee United in the middle of the last decade. He’s got 15 years of managerial experience, and after four years out the game he’ll be absolutely buzzing to get back here.
Ayr finished four places above Brechin in the table last season and McCall can hopefully inject some belief and impetus into this team. I won’t be fannying about on the handicap markets etc, I’ll keep it simple and have a small interest on Ayr winning at 4/1.
Annan v Elgin City | Saturday 15:00
This selection is far more straight-forward, and far easier to believe in.
I like Annan at 5/6 with William Hill here. For a start Elgin have to travel 261 miles to get to the South West town of Annan, that’s a five hour journey on the road. To be honest, I don’t know if they’re travelling down on the Friday night or the Saturday morning but I think it will take it’s toll on these part-time players.
Elgin are also bottom of the league with just three wins from their 16 league games in 2014/15. Their win against Montrose between Christmas and New Year was their first since October. They were also knocked out the Scottish Cup by non-league Bo’ness United. Yeah, it’s been a rough ol’ season for the Highland club.
Fourth place Annan are in much better shape. After losing their opening three league fixtures they’ve gone on and lost just four in their next 16 and their record at Galabank has much to admire.
On home turf they’ve won four of their last five league games and five in seven overall. Their last home loss was in October and crucially they’ve only succumbed at home to top of the pile Arbroath and third place Queens Park. Elgin are a completely different matter. It’s Annan for me at 5/6 with William Hill.
Brechin City v Ayr United – Ayr United to win (4/1 Coral)
Annan Athletic v Elgin City – Annan Athletic to win (5/6 William Hill)