Ladbrokes SPFL: Stranraer on course for Championship return

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So far, so good from the Ladbrokes SPFL play-offs, which have already produced a seven-goal thriller, a first-minute opener and left us with some interestingly-poised second legs.

Hibernian slumped to a 1-0 defeat at Stark’s Park in the first leg of their battle to reach the Premiership, but Rovers haven’t won in their last four visits to Easter Road, so home advantage could be key for Hibs.

Livingston, meanwhile, need to produce something spectacular to turn around their 5-2 defeat at Stranraer, while Ayr United have one foot in the play-off final having won 4-1 at Peterhead.

So, we’ve compiled these previews of what to expect from a few of these crucial ties, with all the second-legs taking place this afternoon. There’s also a round-up of all the other games. We’re in for a cracking day of action.

Hibernian v Raith Rovers (Ladbrokes Premiership Play-offs Quarter-Final Second Leg, Saturday 12:30)

Leicester City loanee Harry Panayiotou struck the only goal in the first leg, as Raith Rovers came out on top at Stark’s Park, but that narrow margin of victory is unlikely to be enough for them to progress to the semi-final against Falkirk.

The Kirkcaldy club haven’t tasted victory in their last four trips to Easter Road, and the hosts are set to extend their run of three home wins on the bounce with Jason Cummings having proved too hot to handle of late.

Having netted nine times in their past three home games, Hibs look good for victory at 1/3, with their visitors 7/1 shots and 15/4 for the draw.

The best value may be on a 3-1 Hibs win (10/1), with Stubbs’ men impressive in front of goal, but liable to concede against a decent Rovers side.

Score Prediction: Hibernian 3-1 Raith Rovers (10/1)

Ayr United v Peterhead (Ladbrokes Championship Play-offs Semi-Final Second Leg, Saturday 15:00)

On-loan Blackburn Rovers man Jordan Preston was on song for the Honest Men as they trounced Peterhead 4-1 in the first leg.

That scoreline leaves Ayr in pole position in this tie, with Blue Toon boss Jim McInally telling The Press and Journal: “We were beaten by a far better team.”

However, if any side can claw this deficit back, it’s Peterhead. The Blue Toon have scored four or more times on an incredible nine occasions this season, including a 7-0 demolition of Cowdenbeath.

With that in mind, they could prove popular to qualify at 16/1. However, the Aberdeenshire outfit seem to have completely lost their way of late, losing their last seven games, with Ayr having won three of their last four fixtures.

Expect the visitors to attack from the off, but to lose a high-scoring second leg. Ayr look a smart bet at evens for victory, with Peterhead 2/1, but the best value could be on these high-scoring sides producing over 4.5 goals (3/1).

Score Prediction: Ayr United 3-2 Peterhead (20/1)

Livingston v Stranraer (Ladbrokes Championship Play-offs Semi-Final Second Leg, Saturday 15:00)

Stranraer put Livi to the sword at Stair Park on Wednesday, and the Lions need to recapture the form which saw them beat Rangers last month, if they are to have any hope of turning around their 5-2 deficit.

To do so, they’ll need Liam Buchanan to be at his best. It’s 13 goals and counting so far this season for the former Alloa man, but while his side are favourites to take this leg, it’s an uphill battle to reach the next round, with Livi 6/1 to advance and Stranraer 1/12.

The hosts are good on their home patch, with only two defeats in eight at the Tony Macaroni Arena, so expect a Livi victory on the night at 8/11. The visitors, meanwhile, are 29/10 to triumph again.

And with Stranraer a naturally attacking side and the West Lothian outfit needing to race out of the blocks, we’re likely to see the net bulge numerous times, meaning the smart money could be on this game producing 4+ goals at 11/8.

Score Prediction: Livingston 3-2 Stranraer (18/1)

Elsewhere, Queen’s Park beat Cowdenbeath 2-0 in the first leg at Hampden Park, with both looking to secure their spot in Ladbrokes League 1 next season. That doesn’t bode well for the Fife club, who have lost seven of their last nine home games, while the Spiders are in double-figures for away wins this season, and finished the campaign with Ladbrokes League 2’s meanest defence.

You can back Queen’s Park at 27/10 to win on the day, though the best bet may be a 1-0 away win for the Glaswegians at 11/1. Those predicting the Blue Brazil to claim victory tomorrow can do so at 4/5.

Also looking to book their place in League 1 are Elgin City, who are evens to beat Clyde at home, following a 3-1 defeat to the Bully Wee at Broadwood Stadium in midweek.

However, with Elgin having drawn three of their last four home games and a share of the spoils enough for Clyde here, the best bet could be honours even at 27/10, while you can back another victory for the Cumbernauld outfit at 21/10.

Meanwhile, East Stirling travel to Lowland Football League outfit Edinburgh City in the first leg of their huge clash. An aggregate win would see City head into the Ladbrokes SPFL at Shire’s expense.

With the Citizens having lost just once on their own patch since August and the pressure on Shire, the 5/6 hosts look good for the win, with Craig Tully’s men 23/10 and 31/10 for the draw.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Dave Burin

Dave graduated with an MA in English Literature at Durham University, and worked in marketing before joining the Ladbrokes News team. A Man United fan and avid groundhopper, he’s also an ardent follower of Rugby League. You can usually find him at a ground near you, clutching a big cup of tea.