DOMESTIC football returns to Scotland with the Petrofac Challenge Cup First Round. Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) shares his best bets from the coupon.
Brora Rangers v Alloa | Saturday 14:00
Opening day of the season. First round of the Petrofac Cup. Stakes should be kept low obviously but a couple of bets caught my eye. First up is this clash between Championship side Alloa and non-league Brora Rangers.
Brora were unlucky not to get promoted into Scottish League Two at the end of last season as they lost by the odd goal against Montrose in a play-off. But in reality I think there’s a big gap between these sides; Rangers lost 4-1 to Queen Of The South in the Scottish Cup at the end of November and Montrose finished 10 points adrift at the bottom of League Two.
Alloa, under the threat of relegation, brought in trophy winning ex-St Mirren manager Danny Lennon late last season and he negotiated them to safety. It wasn’t easy mind, they had to get the better of Stranraer, Forfar and Brechin in a fierce play-off competition, but he got the job done.
I think Lennon’s a shrewd manager. He won the League Cup with St Mirren and the Paisley club have hardly thrived since he left. His Alloa side have had a good pre-season and secured international clearance for their new recruit Geoff Mitchell. He banged in seven goals in pre-season and will love getting stuck into non-league Brora.
Paddy Power are best price 8/13 on Alloa but I’ll back them -1 on the handicap at 17/10 with the same firm. Lennon will be eager to start the season well and look to his men to exploit the gulf in class.
Arbroath v Dunfermline | Saturday 15:00
Dunfermline are the Portsmouth of Scotland. Always a short price at the start of the season, always massively disappointing. Last season they finished seventh in League One which was their lowest placing since the mid-80’s. So why have faith this time round?
Things have changed over the summer at East End Park with Allan Johnston installed as their new manager. The ex-Kilmarnock manager struggled at Rugby Park but he was fantastic with Queen Of The South and guided the Dumfries club out of the third tier with aplomb.
Johnston will be hurting after his experiences at Kilmarnock and has a major opportunity to rebuild his career at a big club. First up is a clash against League Two side Arbroath at Gayfield.
The Red Lichties had an awful second half to last season which saw them drop from the top of the table to just scrape into the play-offs. They fell at the first post-season hurdle and find themselves trying to make sense of what went wrong last season.
It may be that it takes them a while to get going in this new season and I fancy the Pars to capitalise on their solid pre-season and win here. The price isn’t amazing, but I’m prepared to invest in a new beginning for Dunfermline this Saturday.
Brora Rangers v Alloa – Alloa -1 (17/10 Paddy Power)
Arbroath v Dunfermline – Dunfermline to win (20/21 BetVictor)
Wiliam Hill are giving away up to £50m to anyone who can predict the exact standings in the new Premier League season.