GW 13 – Ones to Watch

Matt: Good to see plenty of big scores in the Global League last weekend, although yet again the teams featured in this section didn’t exactly set the game alight! Those pesky part-timers from Belper and Broxburn weren’t going down without a fight that’s for sure!

I’m certainly tempted to give one or two below-par Scottish teams another chance in the cup replays that are available this weekend, but my first tip comes from the one outstanding second round fixture still to be played; Penicuik Athletic v Stenhousemuir. This match should have taken place last weekend, but the weather intervened as kick off approached, so this is still the initial staging of this tie as opposed to a replay. Penicuik are currently plying their trade in the East of Scotland league, but after a lightning start to the campaign they’ve stuttered somewhat – just one win in the last four, with the most recent match at home ground Penicuik Park resulting in a 3-0 loss to Camelon Juniors. With League Two visitors Stenhousemuir in decent form, only failing to score once in their past 14 competitive games and recording consecutive 3-2 victories over Cove Rangers and Waterford (Scottish Challenge Cup), a couple of ‘cuik’ goals for Stenny could see the floodgates open.

Moving back towards slightly more familiar territory, the League One clash between Oxford United and Rochdale looks primed for some goalmouth action! Both sides head into the match in good form; The U’s have taken 13 points from a possible 15 in the league, whilst ‘Dale are on a run of three consecutive league victories. Crucially though, both are scoring plenty of goals along the way, with Oxford averaging just shy of 3 per game at home this season. Recent results at the Kassam Stadium include emphatic 3-0 victories over Doncaster Rovers and Gillingham, plus a 4-0 thumping of Premier League West Ham United in the EFL Trophy. Given that Rochdale seem to be playing with the ‘best form of defence is to attack’ philosophy, i’m hoping for a very open game and plenty of chances being created. This fixture coughed up a 4-2 win for Oxford around the same time last year and more of the same would be nice here! Good luck to you all.

Ally: My first tip of the weekend sees me dip into the Scottish Cup, for the Second Round replay between the wonderfully named Gala Fairydean Rovers of the Lowland League and Formartine United of the Highland League. Last week’s meeting saw 4 goals shared in a 2-2 draw at Formartine’s North Lodge Park home, and Saturday sees them make the long journey south as they travel from rural Aberdeenshire down to Galashiels in the Scottish Borders. The hosts are in poor form with just a solitary point on home turf this season in 5 outings, scoring a meagre 2 goals and conceding 13 in the process. Formartine on the other hand have an impressive away record, with 15 goals from 6 matches on the road as they have registered 4 wins and a draw, and have conceded just the one goal. The form book certainly points to the away side progressing, but we have learnt over the years to expect the unexpected in this game!

My other tip sees me staying north of the border, where Dundee United take on Dunfermline in the Scottish Championship. The Tannadice club have certainly found home territory to their liking so far this season as they have recorded a pefect 4 wins out of 4, scoring a mightily impressive 18 goals in the process to propel them to the top of the league. Much of this success owes to hotshot striker Lawrence Shankland, who has notched 13 goals in just 9 league matches, 10 of which have come in those 4 home games. Dunfermline travel in reasonable form themselves, buoyed by last weekend’s 3-2 home win against joint leaders Ayr United, and have only conceded 3 goals in their 4 away matches this term. Their only clean sheet however was at bottom side Partick Thistle, so I think The Tangerines will be eyeing this as an opportunity to keep up the pressure on rivals Ayr United, who play on Friday evening.