GW 34 – Ones to Watch

Matt: I’m always slightly dubious about tipping Championship sides and Fulham’s horrific 3-0 home defeat by Barnsley last weekend was a timely reminder that you simply cannot trust anyone in that league! A quick flick through the leaderboard reveals that the likes of Middlesbrough, Preston North End and Sheffield Wednesday also got in on the act and caused their fair share of misery, so it really was the league to avoid in GW 33!

GW 34 certainly looks a bit more appealing and hopefully we won’t see a repeat of Storm Dennis and the atrocious weather conditions that caused so many potential picks to have their fixtures postponed. If we do have a repeat then both of my tips could be in danger as they’re both in the Scottish lower leagues! First up it’s League One action between Raith Rovers and Clyde, with the league leaders aiming to retain their advantage over Falkirk at the top of the standings. Despite a couple of non-scoring returns at home in their previous five games, Stark’s Park has generally been happy hunting ground for Rovers over recent seasons and thus they have become a firm favourite of regular players of this game. They’ve gone almost a month without a fixture there (a 4-3 win over Montrose), but they’ve scored in all three away games since, so they haven’t forgotten where the net is. 45 goals in the league alone tells you Rovers are capable up top and the visitors probably won’t have forgotten their last visit to Kirkcaldy – a 5-2 hammering back in August! Clyde have clearly improved since then, but they remain just two points above 9th place and the dreaded relegation play off that accompanies it. Fresh off the back of three consecutive defeats and with no clean sheet in the league since early December, The Wee Bully might not be cherishing a trip to the leaders!

Dropping down into League Two, i’m backing Edinburgh City in this section for the third time this season. They’ve not failed me yet and i’m very much hoping they don’t decide to start now, especially as this fixture against bottom of the table Brechin City should, in theory, be the easiest of the lot! The Citizens are in the midst of an extremely dodgy run of form and last week’s loss at fellow promotion/title hopefuls Cove Rangers was their third defeat in five games, leaving them six points off the lead. Saturday’s match therefore becomes an absolute must win and City will be looking to recapture the early season form that saw them return 25 points from a possible 27 in their opening nine home games at Ainslie Park. They were back on the goalscoring trail in their last match on home soil, a comfortable 3-0 win over Annan Athletic. Visitors Brechin meanwhile are in a world of trouble at the wrong end of the table and face possible relegation into The Highland League for the first time in their history. This would be the culmination of one of the sorriest periods in any team’s history; three consecutive relegations and from Scottish Championship football to non-league almost in the blink of an eye! If they’re to prevent that happening, Brechin need to arrest a terrible run of form that has seen them take just two points from the last seven league matches. Last time out they got smashed 4-1 at Albion Rovers and in their previous eight away games City have conceded a whopping 27 times! That doesn’t bode well for their trip to the capital! Good luck to you all.

Ally: First up for me this week is the League Two clash between promotion chasing Crewe Alexandra and perennial strugglers Macclesfield. The Alex have carved out a reputation over many years as one of the most attractive sides to watch in the football league, regardless of the division they are playing in and they appear to be maintaining that tradition this season. They currently occupy the third and final automatic promotion spot, level on points with Plymouth Argyle but ahead by virtue of their superior goal difference. Indeed the Railwaymen are the league’s leading scorers having hit the net 60 times in their 33 league matches, and also boast the best home record amassing 36 of their 61 points at Gresty Road. This is a bit of a local derby, which I normally avoid, but Crewe have an obvious need for points and will see this as an ideal opportunity for a victory over a side that is well clear of the sole relegation spot, but has recorded just two away clean sheets all season.

I’m off to the Scottish Premiership for my second tip, but not the city most of you would be expecting. That’s right, I’m going to Edinburgh where sixth placed Hibernian host fifth placed Livingston. This might not be an obvious pick as just a solitary point and one goal scored separates them in the league, but Hibs are the ‘best of the rest’ outside of Rangers and Celtic when it comes to goals scored at home with 24 to their name, while Livingston have the second worst defensive record on the road having conceded 29 goals in their 14 matches and haven’t kept a clean sheet away from their Almondvale home all season in any competition. The Hibees meanwhile have only failed to score once at Easter Road all season, and that was against Glasgow giants Rangers. Aside from that game, they’ve scored 2 or more goals in every home game dating back to 26th October 2019, a run that takes in 10 matches and with Livi’s poor away record I can see the hosts extending that goalscoring run on Saturday. Good luck with your selections.