The Ladbrokes SPFL returned with a bang this weekend, producing seven-goal thrillers, home hammerings, a flurry of penalties and – of course – a piece of Jason Cummings magic.
Here’s what we learned this weekend…
East End Park is still the home of drama
Forget the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Scotland’s true home of drama is Dunfermline’s East End Park. The grand old ground saw 74 goals scored last season, but on the opening day of this season’s Ladbrokes Championship, the Pars truly outdid themselves.
Allan Johnston’s men edged a 4-3 thriller against Dumbarton, which included three penalties, a red card and a hat-trick from the sensational Joe Cardle. Having recovered from 1-0 down to lead 4-1, the Pars were surely expecting to cruise to victory – but Mark Docherty’s double for the Sons produced a nail-biting finale.
Season Ticket holders at East End Park certainly can’t complain about a lack of excitement. And victory at Hibernian next weekend could further boost their spirits, with the Pars 5/1 to win. However…
Hibs’ away woes are over
After finishing last season with two draws and four losses from their last half-dozen away games, Hibernian fans may have headed to Falkirk on opening day with limited expectations – but a terrific away display suggests they may be over their travel sickness.
The Hibees dominated play and possession, with Jason Cummings producing two superb goals to secure a fifth career brace for the Cabbage. The second showed the youngster’s increasing strength and natural finishing ability, but Hibs fans will have been just as impressed by Grant Holt’s outstanding display.
Ladbrokes League 1 favourites off to a flyer
Many are viewing this season’s tussle for top spot in League 1 as a two-horse race between Alloa (9/5) and Livingston (7/2) – and the opening weekend suggests that might well be the case.
The Wasps pummelled Peterhead 4-0 at Indodrill Stadium with Jordan Kirkpatrick – a summer signing from Dumbarton – netting twice en route to a comprehensive victory.
However, they were denied top spot by a stunning Livi display, who earned revenge against Stranraer, beating last season’s play-off foes 5-1, with three goals in the last 20 minutes leaving the visiting fans at the Tony Macaroni Arena feeling rather cheesed off.
With two of last season’s League 1 play-off outfits put to the sword on the opening day, are we set to see a straight shootout for the title between two sides desperate to return to the Ladbrokes Championship at the first opportunity?
Ladbrokes SPFL newboys aren’t out of their league
Having become the first side ever promoted into the SPFL via the play-offs, it would have been easy for Edinburgh City to be overawed. But despite falling just short on Saturday, there are plenty of signs they’ll hold their own this season.
Former Scotland international Craig Beattie and midfielder Ross Guthrie were both on target for the Citizens in a narrow 3-2 defeat against Forfar, in front of League 2’s biggest crowd of the day at Meadowbank Stadium.
Having led 2-0 against Hamilton Academical in a League Cup game and narrowly lost out to Championship side Ayr United at Somerset Park, the new arrivals are already making waves.
Don’t be surprised to see the 4/1 shots upset the odds by winning at Elgin City next weekend.
Cowdenbeath struggling to find their feet
It’s clear that one thing the Blue Brazil will never run out of is loyal supporters. Even after successive relegations, the Cowden faithful turned out in their hundreds for the first game of the League 2 campaign. Unfortunately, it was another difficult day at Central Park for Liam Fox’s men.
The 1-0 home defeat to Elgin City marked Cowden’s tenth defeat in 13 competitive home games. And while there are positives for the boss to take – namely the hosts’ ability to dominate possession – the Fife club need to stop the rot next weekend.
And they have the perfect fixture to do so, away at Forfar Athletic, with Cowdenbeath having taken seven points from their last three visits to Station Park. And for those who fancy a flutter, the 11/5 for a Cowden win could be a fantastic bet.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing