DUNDEE v GREENOCK MORTON
To examine which of the Scottish Cup fifth round ties are most likely to provide an upset, would be to take you to Dundee’s clash with Greenock Morton.
One side sits slumped at the foot of the SPL table, while the other is trying to take their place next season and look well placed to do just that. Morton are currently five points clear at the top of Division One.
Since the turn of the year, Dundee manager Barry Smith has moulded his side into a conservative, well-organised outfit, who haven’t conceded more than one goal in any of their last four league fixtures. However, in terms of quality, the Dee are undoubtedly the SPL’s poorest side.
Progression at Greenock Morton under manager Alan Moore over the past three seasons has been steady, but now the former Stirling Albion boss could take them to the SPL having built a formidable side on a restricted budget. Dundee will need to keep tabs on Morton striker Peter Weatherson, who is closing in on 100 goals for the Greenock club.
DUNDEE UNITED v RANGERS
Rarely has a fifth-round tie received as much build-up and press coverage as this one, with plenty of bad blood running between the two clubs.
Rangers' Chief Executive Charles Green called on supporters not to attend the match at Tannadice, on account of a dispute over tickets dating back to last season. It appears Gers fans will heed Green’s request.
However, the match-up itself is intriguing. How will Third Division Rangers fare against SPL opposition? Despite their top-flight pedigree, a defeat to Inverness and a win over Motherwell represents chequered form against Premier League opposition this season.
Peter Houston’s exit from Tannadice during the week, means that his replacement Jackie McNamara will take charge of his first game since joining from Partick Thistle. How will United’s young side respond to their new manager?
In the league the Tangerines have recorded just one win in their last eight games,
18-year-old Barrie McKay will be presented with an opportunity to test himself against a superior standard of opposition, having stood out as Rangers’ most impressive player in the Third Division. The same goes for fellow academy graduates Lewis Macleod and Fraser Aird who have become important first team figures at Ibrox.
RAITH ROVERS v CELTIC
Raith Rovers have seen their aspirations curbed by a drastic cost-cutting programme that has seen the club move to becoming a partially part-time side. Talents like Gregory Tade, John Baird and Jamie Walker have been forced to leave Stark’s Park to further their careers, as has John McGlynn, who became Hearts manager at the end of last season.
Rovers’ squad may have been raided over the past two years but they can still boast a team of reasonable Scottish Football League pedigree. The likes of Simon Mensing, Pat Clarke, Brian Graham are all experienced First Division performers.
Sandwiched between last week’s League Cup semi-final defeat to St Mirren and next week’s Champions League last 16 tie against Juventus, it’s unclear whether this game comes at a good or a bad time for Raith Rovers.
Going by their form at Hampden Park under Neil Lennon, Celtic have nothing to worry about until they reach the national stadium. Their defeat to St Mirren last week was their fourth defeat at Hampden in three seasons with Lennon as manager. Cup success has eluded the Northern Irishman so far.
Having held on to key figures Gary Hooper and Victor Wanyama in the January transfer window (at the time of writing), Celtic have their sights firmly on progressing into the last eight of the Champions League.
However, Celtic’s League Cup failure will have focused their minds domestically too. Raith Rovers could feel the full force of the backlash.
Back Greenock Morton to beat Dundee at 3.30
Back Rangers to be winning against Dundee United at half-time at 4.10
Back over 3.5 total goals between Raith Rovers and Celtic at 2.15