SCOTTISH football bible Willie Duncan (@Willie_Duncan) shares his verdict on Friday night’s crunch play-off clash.
Falkirk v Dundee United | Friday 19:45 | BT Sport
The format may have its critics, but there are few who can doubt that the promotion/relegation play-offs that have been introduced to Scottish football in the last few seasons have injected a bit of added excitement into the final weeks of the season.
Last term, Falkirk got to within touching distance of a place in the Premier League; they won a thrilling semi-final showdown against Hibernian before taking a first-leg lead against Kilmarnock in the final.
Falkirk favourites to go one better
Sadly for Peter Houston’s men, it all went badly wrong in the second leg at Rugby Park as Killie cranked up the pressure and the Bairns’ dream of returning to the top tier was put to bed – for another year, at least.
Houston’s men booked their place in the play-off final following a sensational 3-2 win against the Hibees at Falkirk Stadium following a 2-2 draw in the first leg in Easter Road and those of a Falkirk persuasion who believe in omens will point to the fact that Tuesday’s first leg tie at Tannadice ended with the same result.
Falkirk are favourites to progress following the tie at Tannadice and it is no surprise, for the Bairns have been beaten in just two of their last 16 matches, while Houston’s side know what it takes to negotiate their way to the play-off final, having managed that feat against the odds last term.
Tangerines road woes
The Tangerines were comfortable in the play-off quarter-finals against Greenock Morton, winning the tie 5-1 on aggregate – including a 2-1 win at Cappielow; that result, however, was something of a collector’s item, for United have come out on top in just two of their last 13 away matches in all competitions.
United, too, have conceded six goals and scored just one of their previous two visits to Falkirk Stadium in the Championship this season and Houston’s charges are certainly capable of causing a problem or two for Ray McKinnon’s men once again in Friday’s fixture.
Falkirk, then, look to be a solid selection ahead of this match; the 8/13 quotes for the Bairns to progress, however, are skinny enough and, so, the 13/10 quote on offer from SkyBet for Houston’s men to win the match inside 90 minutes could offer excellent value for punters in this semi-final showdown.
Falkirk v Dundee United – Falkirk to win (13/10 SkyBet)