St Mirren vs DunfermlineScottish League Cup, KO: 15:00 Jul 14, 2019, St Mirren Park
LAST season St Mirren required play-off penalty kicks to retain their Scottish Premiership status and in doing so prevented fixtures with Dunfermline forming part of their regular league season.
Consequently, the Saints' first competitive outing of the season sees them welcome the Pars to Paisley with the home side 88/100 (William Hill) favourites to make a winning start to their Betfred Cup campaign.
This weekend's League Cup clashes have seen four top-flight teams fail to defeat lower-league opposition in normal time and if you fancy the Fifers to make it five then they are 3/1 (McBookie) for the win whereas the draw that would present another penalty shoot-out in Paisley is on offer at 13/5 (Bet365).
Only 49 days have passed since Oran Kearney led the Saints to a dramatic win against Dundee United but the Northern Irishman is no longer at the helm after he parted company with the Buddies in what has been yet another turbulent pre-season for the Paisley side.
After heroically preserving part-time Alloa's Scottish Championship status last season former St Mirren skipper Jim Goodwin was the natural successor to Kearney.
Goodwin has made it known he wants to bring some much-needed stability to the Saints and he has already making moves put his own stamp on his squad following the signings of Tony Andreu and midfielder Oan Djorkaeff – the son of former World Cup winner Youri Djorkaeff.
Much like St Mirren, stability is not a word that can be used to best describe Dunfermline's summer.
The Pars were in freefall towards the end of last season – so much so Stevie Crawford's sides last league win was way back in early March – and the run that followed seen Athletic slide alarmingly close to the Scottish Championship trap door.
As such a big summer turnaround has followed in Fife with 12 players exiting East End Park and 11 having checked in thus far.
Notable new arrivals include Kevin Nisbet and Euan Murray from neighbours Raith Rovers as well as Paul Paton who made the move to Fife from rivals Falkirk.
Paton will be my first port of call for this cup clash after he picked up 11 bookings for the Bairns last season in 29 league appearances – meaning that he was booked on average every 2 and a half games.
The Northern Irishman is not shy of a tackle and the defensive midfielder to be carded on his debut appeals at 12/5 (Bet365)
Alternatively, the aforementioned Nisbet might also be worth looking at for the Pars after he netted 34 times last season for Raith Rovers – he is 13/5 (Bet365) to find the net for the Fifers.
Whether or not Nisbet nets remains to be seen but goals could flow in this fixture when considering the nature of each sides respective pre-seasons as well the fact that both backlines were far from watertight last season.
In considering who will come out in top in this Group H encounter – this is a tough one to call and I wouldn't be surprised if penalty kicks were needed to determine who takes the potential bonus point.
The Paisley side may play at a higher level but I expect Dunfermline to make this a difficult first game in the Saints dugout for Jim Goodwin.
Furthermore, the Betfred Cup has already demonstrated that Scottish Premiership sides are susceptible to setbacks – therefore the Pars could be worth a punt on the double chance at 20/21 (BoyleSports).
This Scottish League Cup match between St Mirren and Dunfermline will be played on Jul 14, 2019 and kick off at 15:00