As opening Scottish Challenge Cup (or Petrofac Training Cup) fixtures go, they don’t come much tastier than Hibernian entertaining Rangers, especially with a player tug-of-war as the backdrop.
These traditional big guns of Scottish football will once again be vying to book a ticket back to the big time having failed at the play-off stages in the Championship last season, but before minds turn to the league, this cup tie must be settled at Easter Road.
Of course it was Rangers who ended Hibs’ promotion hopes back in May, albeit Rangers were defeated 1-0 in the home leg, and to add further spice to this 2015/16 curtain raiser, it’s a repeat of the first-round draw from 12 months ago.
On that occasion extra-time was required at Ibrox for Rangers to progress by a single goal after the match finished 1-1 in 90 minutes.
Looking at pre-season preparations it must be Alan Stubbs’ more settled side that should be fancied at home though, especially after winning two of three friendlies and drawing the other.
Meanwhile, new Rangers boss Mark Warburton faces his first competitive fixture in the Gers hotseat and having fielded six new signings in a 1-0 friendly loss to Burnley at Ibrox last time, it’s looking like a tough baptism for the former Brentford gaffer.
New signing Andy Halliday was an impressive performer in the middle of the park against the Clarets for Warburton, however, it’s the main man for Hibs who will be the centre of attention in Edinburgh.
Influential midfielder Scott Allan has been the subject of a second rejected bid from Rangers in the past few days as Warburton looks to increase his title chances by pinching arguably Hibernian’s best player.
Allan is a 4/1 chance to make more headlines by getting on the scoresheet for the hosts who are desperate to keep the 23-year-old on the books at Easter Road.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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