Ladbrokes Championship: This weekend’s games previewed
Rangers are expected to go all out for promotion after the disappointment of last year and after some impressive wins in the build-up to the Championship kick-off those expectations are already on the rise.
Newly-relegated St Mirren will be one of the tougher challenges of the season and the Buddies are the visitors to Ibrox for Friday’s curtain raiser.
New Gers boss Mark Warburton has got his rein off to the perfect start with impressive wins against Hibs and Peterhead. New St Mirren gaffer Ian Murray though, has a tough job on his hand to turn around a club in the doldrums.
The Buddies nine-year stay in the top flight ended last season after losing 26 of 38 matches. This fixture has been dominated by the Govan outfit in the past, with the hosts winning 12 of the last 15 meetings. With the confident manner they have approached the opening two matches, the three points may well be staying at Ibrox.
Dumbarton have had to cope with the loss of a number of their best players including Scott Agnew and their pre-season culminated with a disappointing League Cup defeat to lower league opposition, East Fife.
Despite a humbling 6-2 Challenge Cup defeat to Rangers, Hibs look well poised to challenge for the title. With the vast majority of last season’s team intact, and the addition of the exciting youngster John McGinn, they look to have amassed an impressive squad.
It has been over 30 years since the Sons triumphed over the visitors from the capital and the Hibees impressive summer of recruitment should see them too strong in this one.
Morton make their return to the second tier after an impressive promotion last term. However, the men from the Clyde may struggle to make the step up, the last time they were at this level they finished rock bottom with only six wins.
Falkirk will hope that ex-Motherwell man Bob McHugh will fill the void left by the last season’s top scorer Rory Loy. Peter Houston’s men have shown some good pre-season form with two high scoring cup victories and some eye catching results on their tour of Ireland.
Both these sides warmed up for the season opener with classy looking 5-0 victories in the League Cup so this could be an exciting match. The Bairns have taken 11 out of a possible 15 points in the last five meetings so an away win could be on the cards here.
The challenge for Queen of the South will be trying to match last season’s remarkable achievements. For a team on a modest budget, they kept pace with powerhouses Rangers and Hibs for the vast majority of the campaign.
Alloa narrowly avoided relegation in the end of season lottery that is the playoffs. The Wasps should be buzzing with excitement after securing the services of manager Danny Lennon, who should help them push on from that reprieve. The Fifers have won their opening two cup matches, but this will be a much tougher challenge than Brora and Berwick provided.
The Doonhamers have dominated their visitors in recent times. They are unbeaten in 10 and have won five of the last seven. The home side also have a dominant record on their artificial surface and should kick of their season in style.
New Raith gaffer Ray McKinnon faces an injury headache ahead of the season opener. Exciting youngster Lewis Vaughan opened the scoring in their 3-0 cup win against Albion, but is set to be out for the majority of the season with a nasty ligament injury. Rovers lost five of their last six matches at the end of last season and could well be dragged into a relegation battle this term.
Livingston managed to pull off a miracle escape last season, in the backdrop of financial problems. Mark Burchill’s men went on a remarkable late season run of victories to beat the drop and also managed to lift the Challenge Cup.
Two cup victories will have boosted their confidence as they hope to start where they left off. These sides shared two victories apiece in head-to-heads last season and it looks hard to separate them on this occasion.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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