GW 21 – Ones to Watch

Ally: After a bad couple of gameweeks from a personal perspective, both in terms of success in this ‘Ones to Watch’ section and in overall point scoring, I’m hoping that the return of cup competition in both England and Scotland will bring about a change in fortunes, so long as I avoid the proverbial banana skins and any potential upsets or shocks!

There are some very tasty looking ties in both competitions, but first up in my quest for success is the Scottish Cup tie featuring the battle of the Thistles – Championship side Inverness Caledonian Thistle who travel to Highland League side Buckie Thistle. The hosts are one of the more successful non-league sides in Scotland, regularly finishing near the top of the Highland League and winning it as recently as 2016/17. The Jags earned the right to this prestigious tie courtesy of an impressive 3-0 First Round victory at League Two strugglers Albion Rovers on Boxing Day. Inverness will be acutely aware of their opponents’ ability and will need to be on their game to ensure they don’t end up on the wrong end of an upset. They aren’t in the best form of late, sitting in 7th place (out of 10) in the Championship but on the plus side they are generally quite reliable scorers, having found the net in all 9 of their league fixtures so far. They also seem to have a habit of being ruthless against lower league sides in pre-season friendlies, putting seven past League Two side Elgin in September, while their two most recent meetings with Buckie have seen them score eight goals on each occasion, these games being played in 2016 and 2018. I’m not expecting a repeat scoreline on Saturday, but Inverness’ superior quality should see them progress comfortably.

Staying north of the border, I’m going for another league versus non-league tie in the shape of Dumbarton who welcome Huntly to the banks of the river Clyde. Now it’s fair to say the hosts don’t feature on these pages too often, probably for good reason as they have been something of a yo-yo club, alternating between the Championship and League One, this being their 3rd season in the third tier. They are currently in 8th place in League One, but on home turf at least they have a bit of good form to fall back on having recorded 5 wins from the last 8 games in all competitions. However, it’s Huntly’s away form, or rather lack of it that has caught my attention with this tie. The part-timers have an atrocious away record even in the Highland League, as The Black and Golds have just one away win to their name in over 2 years, which despite the prevalence of you know what in 2020 still represents some 23 games. In this time they have conceded 7 goals on two occasions, 6 goals on two further occasions, 5 goals once and 4 goals three times – all these being against fellow Highland League sides, so despite their relative lack of goals The Sons will surely fancy their chances of rediscovering their goalscoring touch and securing their place in the draw for the Third Round. Good luck with your selections.