Ladbrokes League 2: Hosts to prevail in Stirlingshire derby
Just three points separate the top eight teams in what is proving to be arguably the most competitive division in the Ladbrokes SPFL this season.
Joint league leaders Elgin head to third-placed Annan, Arbroath look for a first win of the year against Clyde, and there’s the small matter of a Stirling derby.
Here’s your weekly preview…
Annan v East Fife
Only the alphabet separates East Fife and Elgin so far this season, which currently puts the Fifers top of the pile.
They’re unbeaten since defeat to East Stirlingshire on the opening day, becoming the first club to win three successive games in League 2 this term.
Annan have been incredibly hard to beat at Galabank however, with just three visiting sides claiming victory on the last 16 occasions, stretching back to late October.
In addition, both of East Fife’s trips to the Galabankies last season ended in 2-1 defeats.
There should be a few goals here too, with Fife’s Nathan Austin and Annan’s Smart Osadolor netting seven times between them.
Since the start of last season Annan have scored two or more goals in 15 of 20 home games.
Best Bet: Home Team Goals – Over 1.5 @ 23/20
Arbroath v Clyde
Having firmly had the upper hand over Clyde last season – winning three of their four meetings and scoring 13 times – Arbroath head into this clash as the only side yet to win in League 2.
Clyde are only three points off the pace, but their two victories have come against the two sides from Stirling, who currently sit below them in the table.
Of the Smokies’ three goals this term, two have come in the dying moments, so it seems unlikely there’ll be a repeat of the 3-1 or 4-0 wins over Clyde last season.
With Barry Ferguson’s men failing to score against either Montrose or Queen’s Park, this is shaping up to be a low-scoring affair.
Best Bet: Correct Score 0-0 @ 9/1
Berwick v Queen’s Park
A 5-0 hammering at East Fife has been the only blot on a solid start to the year for Berwick, who host inconsistent Queen’s Park.
But for a late equaliser from Arbroath last weekend, Colin Cameron’s Rangers would be entering this clash as joint league leaders.
Both of Queen’s wins this season have come away from home, but they were at Arbroath and Clyde, two sides who have yet to shine in League 2.
Gus MacPherson may well have had one eye on the recent history books for this fixture too, with Queen’s winless at Shielfield Park in their last seven visits.
Best Bet: Berwick to win @ 33/20
East Stirling v Stirling Albion
Stirling Albion are yet to win since relegation to League 2 in May, and though they say form goes out of the window on derby day, they’re on the back foot this weekend.
East Stirling are one of four sides to claim a pair of wins and defeats from their opening four games, but both their successes have come at Ochilview Park, where they’ve seen off both league leaders East Fife and third placed Annan.
Stuart McLaren has found his Albion side struggling for goals, and they currently prop up the ‘Goals For’ column with two.
The last meeting between these rivals saw Albion have two men sent off in a 1-0 loss in March 2014, and that was the first time in eight meetings that both teams hadn’t scored.
No doubt the Binos will be buoyed up to get their first win of the year in the opening derby clash, but the hosts have started well on home soil this season and that could be the difference.
Best Bet: East Stirling to win @ 7/4
Montrose v Elgin
Elgin will go top if they better East Fife’s result, while a Montrose win would thrust the Gable Endies right to the sharp end.
Whilst suffering away defeats to Berwick and Annan, Montrose have claimed wins to nil at home to Clyde and Arbroath.
George Shields is yet to see his team concede at home, but he now welcomes an Elgin side which has scored in each of its last seven away league games.
Three of their four meetings last season were won by single-goal margins, and with both sides having beaten Arbroath 3-0 this term, an even contest looks likely.
Best Bet: Draw @ 12/5
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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