THE Scottish Cup has thrown up plenty of shocks already with the likes of Auchinleck, Banks o’Dee and Clydebank giving SPFL opposition a bloody nose.
Now Premiership sides are climbing into the ring, with punters trying to figure out where there might be a surprise knockout blow in round four.
Kelty Hearts v St Johnstone
Holders St Johnstone could be in the biggest danger as Callum Davidson’s men are on the ropes after a horror run of nine successive defeats.
The Saints boss admitted they were in “crisis” after the midweek loss at Tynecastle so the last thing they need just now is a tricky cup tie at League Two leaders Kelty Hearts.
Kevin Thomson’s men are romping to promotion in their first SPFL season and have heaps of experience with the likes of Joe Cardle and Kallum Higginbotham.
They also have a goal machine in Nathan Austin who has come up trumps for me several times this season in anytime scorer bets.
He’s 11/4 with McBookie for a goal against Saints and that looks a safer bet than backing Kelty for the win at a best 5/1 with Quinnbet.
These sides faced off in the League Cup two years ago and it was close, with St Johnstone edging a 2-1 victory.
McBookie price another one-goal winning margin at 8/5 and that’s another bet worth considering.
Neither team has been keeping it tight at the back, with Kelty shipping five at Annan on Boxing Day and throwing away a two-goal lead to draw with Edinburgh City last weekend.
Alloa Athletic v Celtic
It would be one of the biggest cup shocks ever if Celtic crashed at League One Alloa tonight and the Wasps are 40/1 outsiders with Coral.
But the Hoops struggled on a plastic pitch at Livingston earlier this season and they might find it tough to break down Alloa if they also park the bus.
How the tie pans out will depend on if Ange Postecoglou’s side can grab an early goal but I fancy most goals to come after the break at 11/10 with Betway.
Giorgos Giakoumakis is back fit again and he could be a good option for Postecoglou here as the Greek brings a physical presence up front.
But the striker is just 4/6 for anytime scorer at McBookie and winger Jota looks better value at evens as he continues his comeback from injury.
Auchinleck Talbot v Hearts
West of Scotland leaders Auchinleck dumped Hamilton out of the cup in the last round and I cashed in by backing Talbot that day.
They now have a glamour tie with Hearts and the Jambos won’t relish a trip to Beechwo0d Park.
Auchinleck made Hearts sweat for a win at Tynecastle a decade ago, with the only goal coming six minutes from time, and it could be another game of patience.
So I’m backing most goals to come in the second half again at 21/20 with William Hill while under 2.5 goals also appeals at 13/8.
Neilson has vowed to field his strongest team and Josh Ginnelly will be on a high after netting twice in the midweek win over St Johnstone. The speedy forward is 9/10 at McBookie for anytime scorer.
Kilmarnock v Dundee Utd
Dundee United started the season superbly but their Premiership form has nosedived and they look vulnerable away to Championship side Kilmarnock.
Derek McInnes has made a decent start as Rugby Park gaffer and Killie have the players to hurt a United side who have lost six in a row.
The bookies reckon this one is too tight to call, with Killie a best 18/11 with SBK for a win inside 90 minutes and United priced 19/10 with the same firm.
We could see extra-time and the draw at 90 minutes pays 21/10 with McBookie. Oli Shaw has been Killie’s main man up front this season and he looks worth a punt at 13/8 with the same firm for a goal today.
Dumbarton v Dundee
There has been plenty of Tayside trauma this winter and Dundee also head into cup action on the back of six successive defeats.
The Dark Blues have an easier tie away to League One Dumbarton, who snapped their five-game losing streak with a victory at fellow strugglers East Fife last week.
The Sons have been leaking goals, with Falkirk smashing them for six a fortnight ago, so combining a Dundee win with over 2.5 strikes looks the shout at 11/8 with William Hill.
It would be magical if Clydebank, Banks o’Dee and Darvel could continue their adventure with more cup shocks.
The Bankies have the best chance at home to Annan but I’m going for a Scrooge treble on Athletic, Raith Rovers and Arbroath (198/100, William Hill).