SCOTTISH football bible Willie Duncan (@Willie_Duncan) shares his expert opinion on Thursday night’s promotion/relegation play-off between Dundee United and Hamilton.
Dundee United v Hamilton | Thursday 19:45 | BT Sport
Dundee United are bidding for promotion from the Scottish Championship at the first time of asking – and if they are to do it, Ray McKinnon’s men will have certainly done it the hard way.
United finished third in the second tier, meaning that they first had to overcome Greenock Morton – which they did with consummate ease – before facing Falkirk on the road to the play-off final.
United looked to have come unstuck for long spells of their second leg tie against Peter Houston’s men on Friday night, but they dug deep and two goals in the final 15 minutes of that tie proved to be enough to set up a crucial clash with Hamilton.
Accies, who are the only team to have been promoted from the Championship via the play-offs, had to win their final match of the regular season on Saturday afternoon to avoid being relegated – and Martin Canning’s charges rose to the challenge in style with a fine 4-0 win against Dundee at New Douglas Park.
This looks to be a fairly evenly-matched encounter but, given Hamilton’s decent home form – they have lost just two of their last nine Premiership ties on their own patch, a record which is solid enough for a team that ended the season just one point from the bottom – it is, perhaps imperative that United make home advantage count.
Goals galore expected
Whether or not McKinnon’s men are capable of that remains to be seen, but those tuning into Thursday’s tussle can probably expect goals galore – United have scored nine goals in their four play-off fixtures so far, while the team from Tannadice have notched 10 in their last four games on Tayside.
Hamilton have kept a clean sheet in each of their last eight wins inside normal time and another disciplined defensive display from the Premiership side may well go a long way to preserving their top-flight status ahead of Sunday’s second leg at New Douglas Park.
With so much at stake, this could be a tight, tense affair, but United’s attitude towards these play-off fixtures so far suggests otherwise, while Hamilton will feel confident after running riot against the team from the other end of Tannadice Street last weekend.
Marathon offer 4/5 that there are more than two goals scored when these two teams begin their bid for the 12th and final place in the 2017/18 Scottish Premiership and that price could offer decent value for punters.
Dundee United v Hamilton – Over 2.5 Goals (23/20 Marathon)