The Spartans vs Heart of MidlothianScottish Cup, KO: 12:15 Jan 20, 2024, Ainslie Park
HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN have previous when it comes to being scalped by a minnow in the Scottish Cup so they will be wary of a fourth-round slip-up when they head across the capital to face League Two new boys The Spartans.
The Jambos were battered 4-0 by second-tier Falkirk in 2003 but that was nowhere near as embarrassing as crashing out to Highland League side Brora Rangers in the second round just three years ago.
The Tynecastle giants were coasting towards the title in the Championship at the time so the gap between them and Brora is now the same as the one that exists with The Spartans.
This is Dougie Samuel's side maiden campaign in the SPFL after winning the Lowland League last term then earning promotion through the pyramid play-offs.
They are more than holding their own in the fourth tier and stand a chance of back-to-back promotions, with The Spartans sitting third in the table midway through the campaign.
The title now looks out of reach after losing to runaway leaders Stenhousemuir last weekend but Spartans had won five in a row before that so their form is good heading into this cup tie.
There's a danger this tie will be postponed due to the freezing temperatures this week but if it goes ahead on Saturday the Jambos could get caught cold in more ways than one.
This is Heart of Midlothian's first game back after the Premiership break and the three-week shutdown came at a bad time for Stevie Naismith's side who were flying heading into the new year.
A run of four wins and a draw in their last five games, including a derby victory over Hibs that brought up two bets for me, has sent Hearts clear in third place. Naismith will be hoping a Cup shock doesn't derail what is shaping up to be a promising campaign.
How the bookies view it
Head to head
These sides have never faced off before but The Spartans do have a decent Scottish Cup pedigree. They beat Championship side Arbroath in the last round and have now scalped the Red Lichties twice in the Cup, along with Alloa, Queen's Park, Annan and Elgin. They faced top-flight Livingston back in 2004 but ended up losing that one 4-0.
Players to watch
Blair Henderson has been the main for The Spartans this season, netting 13 times in all competitions. He has six goals from his last seven games and looks their best bet for a goal at 10/3 with Bet365.
Lawrence Shankland has been the main source of transfer speculation in Scotland this month, with Hearts looking to open talks over a new deal as Rangers and English clubs ponder a move. The striker has scored seven goals in his last six games so is just 8/11 at Bet365 for anytime scorer but the odds increase to 11/4 if you back him to break the deadlock.
Anything else catch the eye?
Hear of Midlothian have been decent at the back of late, with three clean sheets in their last five games. So there could be a bit of value in betting against BTTS at 11/10 with BetVictor, especially if conditions are bad.
It's harding finding value as the bookies don't have many markets open on the Scottish Cup ties. But Paddy Power are pricing a penalty being awarded at 5/4 and that might be worth a punt as players are often too pumped up in these David v Goliath cup ties.
We could see plenty of corners on a tight pitch and over four first-half corners looks great value at 20/21 with Bet365. The same firm price over nine total corners at 10/11.
This Scottish Cup match between The Spartans and Heart of Midlothian will be played on Jan 20, 2024 and kick off at 12:15. Check below for our tipsters best The Spartans vs Heart of Midlothian prediction. You may also visit our dedicated betting previews section for the most up to date previews.