THE CARD again looks loaded in bookies' favour with plenty of tight matches in prospect.

That means punters should consider alternative bets such as both teams to score or handicap betting in favour of teams such as Chelsea and Stranraer in the Scottish Cup.

For first pick in my five to follow I'm going right down to League One and head for Southampton where recently installed boss Nigel Adkins has Saints again looking like play-off contenders.

They have won their last two home matches 2-0 with plenty to spare and should add a third consecutive win against Oldham who are as big as 5-1. Saints are a best 4-6 with Ladbrokes and Blue Square.

Next up it's Chesterfield who have climbed up to the top of League Two on the back of some great home from. They have won five out of six and netted 18 goals, including five in that amazing 5-5 draw with Crewe after trailing 4-1 and 5-3.

Shrewsbury are their opponents and although they sit fifth in the table most of their points have also come at home. The Shrews have netted on their last three trips and Chesterfield are an attractive 11-10 with William Hill.

Up to Scotland now and Hearts could go third today and that's a remarkable achievement for a side who haven't won at home all season.
Jim Jefferies' men have drawn two and lost two at Tynecastle which has been their traditional fortress. The Jambos, however, have been strong on the road and unlucky in front of their own fans.

That could all change today when bottom of the table St Mirren are the visitors to Edinburgh. Saints have lost all four away with the loss of 11 goals and in the past have failed to handle Kevin Kyle who netted Hearts' winner at Aberdeen last week. I fancy the Jambos at 8-13 with the likes of William Hill and Ladbrokes.

Now to the Scottish Cup where short-priced favourites such as Beith, Elgin and Stranraer should all win against Glasgow University, Brora and St Cuthberts respectively. It can be a bit of a minefield at this stage of the tournament but I'm going with Third Division Albion Rovers who are at home to Aberdeen junior side Sunnybank.

Rovers were spanked by Annan last week but should bounce back at Cliftonhill where they have won four out of five. Rovers are a best 1-4 with the likes of, Ladbrokes and William Hill.

And talking of Annan, they are up against the “might” of Preston – Athletic not North End. The East of Scotland Senior side will be keen to put up a show against their south rivals but won't stand a chance if Annan put on a repeat of the display that buried Rovers 4-1 last week. They are a best 2-5 with Paddy Power and William Hill.

Five to follow

  • Southampton
  • Chesterfield
  • Hearts
  • Albion Rovers
  • Annan Athletic

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