Dundee v Ayr United
Betfred Cup. Kick Off: Saturday 18th August, 3pm.
IT'S League Cup action in Scotland this weekend and an early chance to start dreaming of Hampden with a place in the last eight up for grabs here.
Both sides, for differing reasons, have every reason to approach this game with confidence, making it a fascinating punting proposition.
Premiership Dundee, despite their wretched start to the campaign and troubles for much of last season, go in as warm order 4/6 favs (SkyBet, Boylesports, Betway) in what looks far too skinny a price. In Ayr, they face a team playing out of their skin with the honeymoon of their League One title success showing no sign of evaporating.
The Honest Men have racked up six clean sheets in a row to start this season and topped their Betfred group section with ease following a dominant win at Partick Thistle. This trip to the City of Discovery will hold no fears for Ian McCall's men and it's little surprise they have come in for support all week. The 5/1 (Sportingbet) still left about an upset could look mighty big come full-time.
Long-suffering Dark Blues fans point to a misfiring strikeforce as their main problem and a fascinating sub-plot to this tie has been their recent pursuit of Ayr striker Lawrence Shankland.
The United hitman has become one of Scottish football's most wanted men, with Ayr turning down a £150,000 bid from down south earlier this month. Dundee remain interested but would have to shell out a huge amount (not to mention convincing Shankland himself to move).
It would seem almost scripted that he bulges the net here, and at 11/4 (Bet365) to do so anytime, there are far worse bets to be had.
Neil McCann is already under pressure at Dens and although this is not ‘must-win' for the former Rangers winger, he'll be far nearer the exit door should they lose at the hands of lower-league opposition with a quarter-final place at stake. That pressure is sure to tell and a nervy 90 minutes lies ahead for the home side, who simply aren't playing well enough to justify their short price in the market.
As mentioned earlier, Ayr have been rock solid at the back with six consecutive clean sheets but that record surely has to end sometime and they may find that making it seven in a row will be a big ask in what promises to be a fascinating tie.