THREE weeks into the league season – are we to think the form hasn’t settled down yet, or has a pattern already been set? Heavy money wagered on Partick Thistle in Division One appears to be justified so far, but the each-way money for Morton hasn’t come to much – it seems a team assembled with experienced professionals lacks the legs to compete with some of the clubs who are more reliant on youth (is a “good young un” better than an “auld good yin”?).
On Saturday, I looked at the prices for Dunfermline at Airdrie. At odds on, I didn’t fancy Dunfermline at all on the plastic surface. In the end, I would have lost the money and I would recommend caution on betting on a team who doesn’t play great football and instead relies on physicality at those prices – particularly when they’re away from home and on an unfamiliar surface.
It’s been reported that Hamilton have been playing some decent possession football but have struggled to translate their play into goals. On Friday, they signed James Keatings from Celtic, a highly-regarded young striker. I was daft enough to think this might have increased their chances of beating Cowdenbeath and bet them to win the game, but this time to a larger extent on the Draw No Bet (DNB) market. It soon sank to the bottom of the sea – Hamilton lost 1-0.
I made the trip to Firhill on Saturday to watch Partick Thistle take on Dumbarton. I was a little apprehensive – the match was a potential banana skin and I rate the way Dumbarton play the game. They have a number of players whom I respect. The odds on a Thistle win were prohibitively short by the time I looked at the market and I was happy not to have a bet. Those who bet Thistle at -1.25 and -1.5 goal handicaps over the season are perhaps chasing easy money that might not end up being so.
The Second Division this year is proving to be a tough nut to crack once again. A team I don’t like at all is Ayr United. In my view – for what it’s worth – they’re nowhere near good enough to be justified as one of the favourites for the league. The previous week I fancied Arbroath, and this week at 7/2 and +.75 handicap in Asia, I bet against them and stuck my money on Forfar Athletic. Although the Loons twice went behind, I was glad to take the money at 90 minutes.
As life gives you a winner it dishes out a loser. This one came at Stair Park where I had taken a very early 7/5 on Stenny (who by kick off in Asia were nearer 4/5) – this is the classic great value bet that ends up losing. I already have a few of them in the shredder.
I followed this up with an even greater loss at a better price: Alloa at DNB to beat Arbroath. Alloa were 2-0 up at 32 minutes and they went on to lose 2-3. Nevertheless, I had also bet over 2.5 goals in this game, so no great loss there.
A bet that I was staring at for a while but didn’t make until about 2pm on Saturday was Peterhead to beat Queens Park. The price began to drift out as support came in for QP, but when even money Peterhead became available I stepped in with partial confidence. Happily, super Rory McAllister scored an 82nd minute penalty to win me the bet.
Now, le pièce de résistance. This is where taking in games and speaking to contacts can make a difference. I have a friend who plays for a Highland League team who, in pre-season, comfortably beat Stirling Albion. With information on Stirling passed on to me, I bet against Stirling in their first game of the season, which they actually won 4-1 against Annan. The friend’s judgement was questioned at the time, but he’s no mug so I waited for a suitable opportunity.
The occasion arrived this weekend with the visit of Clyde, and I couldn’t believe it when I saw the Bully Wee priced up at 5/1. I had seen Clyde narrowly lose 1-0 to Thistle in the Ramsdens Cup and felt they were very hard-working and organised but with little offensive threat. The bet was struck both at the fixed odds price and on the Asian handicap at +.75 and +1. To see the full-time score of 0-1 and thus overcome the disappointment of Alloa/Stenny/Hamilton in a single blow was wonderful.
This midweek sees the Scottish Communities League cup and there are a few tricky ties out there. The main bet of the round for me is for Dundee to beat Queen’s Park tonight. I don’t think it should be underestimated how big a deal it is for visiting sides from higher leagues to play at Hampden. Dundee haven’t had a great start to the SPL, but played better against Ross County at the weekend – I would expect this to boost their confidence. I will go for Dundee -1 on the Asian Handicap.
If you have any particular questions or topics you would like David to cover, contact him via Twitter at @sflpunter.