THERE are 16 ties in the Scottish Cup fourth round and seven of them are crackers.
Five all-Premiership ties were drawn as well the Sunday showdowns between Rangers v Kilmarnock and Hearts v Celtic – four sides who should be in the top flight.
It means at least seven very good sides will exit and there is every chance of one or two minnows going far in the tournament.
McBookie.com are offering 5-1 a non-Premiership team will win the Scottish Cup and remember that includes Rangers, Hearts and Hibs although I expect the Jambos to be knocked out by Celtic on Sunday.
Paul Petrie, McBookie.com spokesman, said: “Five years have passed since a lower-league side made the Final of the Scottish Cup but before that the record was really good.
“Now with so many all Premiership ties there is a great chance of one of them lifting the trophy in May, especially if Hearts and Rangers can also make it to the next round and knock out another two top-tier teams.”
The one downside to the amount of all-Premiership ties is the lack of potential cup upsets. However, with there are three non-league sides still in the competition and the magic of the Cup is still very much alive.
McBookie.com offer 455-1 for junior side Bo’ness, Highland League Brora and Lowland League Spartans all to win. But before you get to excited I expect all three to lose to Arbroath, QoS and Morton respectively. A treble on the league sides pays a best 2-1 at William Hill.
Out of the five top-flight clashes the one that interests me most is St Mirren v Inverness. Saints boss Tommy Craig wants to buy brassed-off fans lunch and show them how hard his players are working.
They don't want a meal ticket but a win would be nice and I can't see them getting it today. Saints are in a mess and I fear for them when Inverness call in at Paisley.
Craig blamed a lack of goals on the absence of Stevie Thompson and while the big striker could return he’ll surely not be match sharp. The same can’t be said about ICT’S Irish ace Billy Mckay who returned to scoring form in last week’s 3-1 win against Motherwell.
At home the Buddies have picked up just one point in seven outings – scoring three – and crashed 1-0 to ICT at St Mirren Park last month.
Dundee v Aberdeen kicks us off at lunchtime and should be a cracker after the Dons won 3-2 at Dens Park in the league. Paul Hartley’s side have a striker in great form in Davie Clarkson and should push their visitors all the way.
Clarkson is 17-10 with Hills to net for an eighth match in a row and 13-2 with boylesports to break the deadlock. I reckon the Dons will edge through but best bet could be back goals with both to score paying 4-5 at Ladbrokes.
Dundee Utd lost to Motherwell recently in a Friday fixture but kept a clean sheet on their five previous visits to Fir Park. I reckon the Tangerines will gain revenge and are 11-10 at Betfred to do so.
Another top-flight tie sees Partick Thistle entertain Hamilton and it’s also tough one to call. Again there could be goals with the last league meeting finishing 3-3 and it was 2-1 Accies at Firhill. Both to score is 20-23 (McBookie).
St Johnstone and Ross County met in Perth last weekend with the home men winning 2-1. Michael O’Halloran has netted in both Saints’ successes over the Highlanders this season and is 23-20 to net in a third victory.
Elsewhere Brechin are on my aways at Annan and Falkirk are one of the best bets of the day against a Cowdenbeath side they have dominated at hoe recently.
Tomorrow I expect Celtic to win at Hearts but best bet for me is John Guidetti to score at ay time at 1-1 with Betfred. The Swede should be fresh after sitting out the Europa League and I’ll also be on him to score first at 7-2 at Betfred.
Rangers have been poor recently but lifted themselves for cup wins against Premiership sides Inverness and St Johnstone. They’ll possibly edge out Killie but I’m not tempted by odds on. Kris Boyd is 7-4 with Coral to net against his old club and it would be typical of the striker if he did so,
Clarkson (Dundee) to score
(17-10, William Hill)
Partick v Hamilton btts
Morton, Arbroath, QoS treble
(2-1, William Hill)
Guidetti to score (Sun)