The big game of the weekend comes at Tynecastle as Heart of Midlothian and Hibernian meet in the first ever Edinburgh derby outside of the top flight. Hearts kicked off their campaign with a win against Rangers at Ibrox last weekend, meaning they have taken 20 points from the last 27 available (when you include the tail end of last season in the Premiership). Hibs started with victory over Livingston at Easter Road, but now need to overcome their wretched away form which saw them lose their final five away matches of the 2013-14 Premiership season. Excluding the play-offs, their last away league victory came against Ross County back on Boxing Day 2013.
It is fair to say that the maroon half of Edinburgh have been dominant in this fixture in recent times. Hearts won four of the five meetings last season, while Hibs have managed just three victories in the last 21 derbies. Hearts have picked up six wins in the last eight meetings at Tynecastle, while Hibs have only scored four goals in their last 12 visits to Gorgie. There is a good omen for Hibs, though: they were victorious the last time the sides met on 17 August, with Garry O’Connor getting the only goal in a 1-0 win in 2003.
The league table might only be in its formative stages, but that isn’t going to stop me from billing Alloa Athletic versus Raith Rovers as a bottom against top clash. Alloa kicked off their season with a 0-2 defeat to Queen of the South in Dumfries, continuing their miserable run of league form in 2014. Barry Smith’s side have only recorded three victories in 19 Championship matches since the turn of the year, with two of those against Greenock Morton. Raith have only fared slightly better – their 3-1 win over Dumbarton last week was just their fourth league win of the calendar year. Goals have been at a premium in recent league meetings at Recreation Park – the last four meetings have averaged just one per game.
Greenock Morton’s last match at Cappielow in the third tier was a 1-1 draw with Stranraer back in 2007, and it’s the same opposition who come calling on Saturday. Considering their dreadful league performance last season, it’s slightly surprising to note that Morton have lost just two of their 11 home matches in 2014, and are currently on a run of five wins out of six in Inverclyde. Stranraer, on the other hand, have suffered five defeats in their last six away matches, conceding 17 goals in the process. The Blues have only ever won one league match in Greenock, and that came back in January 1962 when Audrey Hepburn classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s was in the cinemas.
Pre-season favourites Dunfermline Athletic travel to Station Park to take on Forfar Athletic who were themselves tipped to finish in the play-offs. Forfar have picked up just one win and two draws in their last ten matches, while the Pars have just one win in their last seven away games. History suggests that spectators should see plenty of goalmouth action: the last four meetings at Station Park have yielded a whopping 19 goals.
Arbroath welcome Albion Rovers to Gayfield, with both sides looking to build on their opening day victories. Both sides know that winning their opening two fixtures is not necessarily a guarantee of success – Rovers took six points out of six at the start of last season, but eventually finished 7th, while the Red Lichties kicked off the 2009-10 Second Division win two victories before eventually being relegated. Arbroath have recorded five consecutive home wins over the ‘Vers, scoring 19 goals in the process. The Coatbridge side’s last victory at Gayfield came back in February 2008, when current star striker John Gemmell (in the first of his three spells at the club) scored a hat-trick in a 4-1 win.
Two of the relegation favourites meet at Ochilview, with East Stirlingshire hosting Elgin City. The Shire’s opening day defeat to Montrose was a tenth loss in 11 matches, and more worryingly, the seventh time since the start of March that they’ve conceded four or more goals. Elgin kicked off their campaign with a win over East Fife last week and will be looking to start a season with two wins for just the second time since joining the SFL (the other being 2004-05). The Shire have won their last three home matches against Elgin, scoring three goals in each of them. Ochilview might well be the place to be for a neutral on Saturday – the last ten meetings between these sides have featured 42 goals.
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