Kelty Hearts vs Dundee UnitedScottish League Cup, KO: 19:45 Jul 9, 2021, New Central Park
THE League Cup has brought Dundee United nothing put pain in the past few years and they kick off this season's group stage with a potential banana skin at Kelty Hearts.
The Tannadice club haven't progressed to the knockout stage since 2017, a shameful record for a club of their stature, but should manage to put that right this season.
Championship minnows Arbroath are their highest-ranked rivals in Group B so United shouldn't have too much trouble topping a section that also includes East Fife and Elgin.
The departure of Micky Mellon (below) left Tannadice chiefs searching for a new boss over the summer and some fans were far from happy when they promoted Tam Courts from within.
His only previous experience as a first-team boss came with Kelty in the East of Scotland and Lowland leagues so it's a gamble to hand Courts the reins.
His maiden assignment as United gaffer is certainly fraught with danger and it would be an embarrassing way to start if his side lost to the SPFL new boys.
Kelty also had to find a new manager during the off-season with Barry Ferguson surprisingly standing down after the club's historic play-off triumph over Brechin.
Another Rangers old boy, Kevin Thomson, has stepped into the void and he has tooled up for the club's first League Two campaign, bringing in Ibrox kid Jamie Barjonas as well as experienced SPFL campaigners in the shape of Joe Cardle and Jordon Forster.
It looks like Kelty mean business and Thomson's team will fancy their chances of qualifying from the group in what looks like a wide-open race for second place behind United.
How the bookies view it
Dundee United look way too short as 1/4 favourites with McBookie and plenty of punters might fancy a punt on Kelty at a generous 9/1 with the same firm. These group matches go straight to penalties if there's a draw and the stalemate at 90 minutes pays 21/4.
Courts will be without Ryan Edwards and Jamie Robson, who are serving suspensions, while Kelty have no major injury worries.
Players to watch
Veteran winger Cardle looks to be the shrewdest of Kelty's summer signings after chipping in with seven goals and seven assists for League One winners Partick Thistle last term. He could cause United some problems but the bookies have yet to price up the scorer's market.
It looks like Dundee United are entering a period of downsizing with their accounts making for uncomfortable reading. But their prize asset is still on the books in the shape of Lawrence Shankland who top-scored in this tournament for Ayr three years ago. The Scotland striker (below) looks their best bet for a goal.
Anything else catch the eye?
United were very much a safety-first kind of team under Mellon and betting against BTTS paid off for me when they lost the Scottish Cup semi-final 2-0 to Hibs.
But it looks like Courts will try to make them more expansive and with Kelty boasting some impressive firepower I'm going to back both teams to score here, although the odds aren't great at 3/4 with McBookie.
Hopefully those odds will increase when some of the major English firms finally get round to pricing up this game.
With Thomson's side such a huge price to win they offer decent value in the handicaps, with Kelty + 2 paying 23/20 at McBookie which looks worth a punt.
It could take a bit of time for this tie to ignite, with the teams sizing each other up, so I fancy the second period to be the highest-scoring half at 20/21 with McBookie.
This Scottish League Cup match between Kelty Hearts and Dundee United will be played on Jul 9, 2021 and kick off at 19:45. Check below for our tipsters best Kelty Hearts vs Dundee United prediction. You may also visit our dedicated betting previews section for the most up to date previews.