ABERDEEN vs. DUNDEE
As a road closure added an extra four hours to Aberdeen’s journey to face Dundee United last week, Dons boss Craig Brown recalled how he had endured a similar experience as Scotland assistant manager in 1989, when Andy Roxburgh’s men needed a police escort through Paris to make it in time for a qualifying clash with France.
This time Brown’s side didn’t make it on time (the match was delayed by 30 minutes), but after the Dons extended their unbeaten league run to 11 games with a 1-1 draw it appears he’s also using that experience to finally draw the best out of a team that had become the perennial underachievers of the SPL in recent times.
Niall McGinn’s equaliser might have only earned the Dons a point against a team without a win, or a goal, since August, but it demonstrated the new found resolution and mental strength Brown has instilled in his side this season. The Dons have come from behind to claim a point or more six times already this term.
Furthermore the attacking flair, in McGinn and Jonny Hayes, brought to the club by Brown during the summer appears to be adding goals to a side that struggled to convert last season (the Dons have scored in their last five games). This potency in front of goal is reflected in the price available for Aberdeen not to score against Dundee, 7.00.
The gap between the First Division and the SPL is regarded to be a manageable one by most. Last year’s relegated side Dunfermline were the first team since Gretna in 2008 to go straight back down following promotion. However, for Dundee that gap looks to be a step too far.
Last week’s 4-1 defeat to Inverness left the Dee without a home point this season and with a side that hasn’t changed much from the one that finished second in Division One, Barry Smith’s men look ill-equipped for the top flight.
Smith himself bemoaned the individual defensive errors his side are consistently making, meaning over 2.5 total goals scored is available at 2.5.
INVERNESS vs. ST JOHNSTONE
It may be something of an unexpected narrative, but with St Johnstone travelling north to take on Inverness on Saturday the SPL’s two in-form sides will be pitted directly against each other for the first time this season.
Caley Thistle’s streak of five games without defeat, which continued with Friday’s convincing 4-1 win over bottom side Dundee, took them to third place in the standing, albeit temporarily. Confidence is flowing through the team, demonstrated by Billy McKay against Dundee, who only started due to an injury to captain Richie Foran only to net a brace.
However, despite their impressive run of performances the Highlanders have only recently improved on a form column that read four draws from their opening six SPL fixtures, putting a draw between these two sides at 3.30.
St Johnstone’s form has been so good it’ll go down in history, after Nigel Hasselbaink’s winner lifted Saints to their highest league position since 1971, recording five successive league wins for the first time since such a time as well.
The firepower added to the Perth side by manager Steve Lomas in the summer, in Hasselbaink, Gregory Tade and Rowan Vine has given St Johnstone a cutting edge they lacked too often last season. This is reflected in the goals Saints are now scoring, netting at least twice in every one of their last five matches. They are available at 11.50 to make it three successive 2-1 wins.
MOTHERWELL vs. HIBERNIAN
With both teams’ candidacy for the coveted second spot in the SPL this season taking a hit last week this promises to be a tie motivated by a common objective; to get that candidacy back on track.
Motherwell’s season to date had been underpinned by an unbeaten away record. Unfortunately for the Fir Park side one swish of Danny Grainger’s left foot saw that disappear in a 1-0 defeat to Hearts on Sunday. Now Stuart McCall’s side must find a way to win at home, having only recorded a single victory there all season.
A strikeforce that not so long ago was the envy of most in the SPL now appears to be misfiring, with Michael Higdon’s goal scoring run of seven goals in three games apparently over. Henrik Ojamaa has yet to match the standard he set upon joining the club last season to such an extent he no longer commands a starting spot. And with Jamie Murphy yet to find the net in his last six games, the Steelmen biggest strength no longer looks so strong. They are available at 4.60 not to score against Hibs.
For Hibs last week’s rather unfortunate 3-2 defeat to Ross County came as just their second loss this season, yet it arrived, as you would expect it to. The Leith side have only kept one clean sheet so far this term (against Dundee) relying on the form of their strikers to outscore the opposition. Against County Leigh Griffiths found the net once again (his seventh goal in ten appearances) but were outscored themselves. If manager Pat Fenlon can’t tighten up his defence over 3.5 total goals scored, available at 2.90, looks like good value.
- Back Aberdeen to beat Dundee 2-0 at 6.50.
- Back St Johnstone to beat Inverness at 3.10
- Back a draw at half time between Motherwell and Hibernian at 2.15.