The William Hill Scottish Cup is back this weekend and there’s a number of entertaining fixtures to look forward to.
Celtic vs Inverness
The first tie of the round features Celtic who face Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the Saturday lunchtime kick-off. Celtic will be full of confidence ahead of the fixture, given their current league position and the fact they comfortably beat Albion Rovers in the last round, Celtic also have home advantage which will make the task ahead even more daunting for Caley Thistle.
Cup success is probably the least of Inverness Caledonian Thistle’s worries given the fact they’re rooted to the bottom of the Scottish Premiership table and morale at the club almost took another blow after they narrowly avoided a shock against minnow Elgin city in the last round of the cup. A shock win for Inverness Caledonian Thistle could lift the spirits and galvanise their battle for survival in the league but Celtic should have more than enough to win on Saturday.
Ayr vs Clyde
Ayr United take on League Two’s Clyde at Somerset Park with the League Two side looking to cause an upset. Both sides edged out their opponents in the last round with Ayr edging out Queens Park in a penalty shootout in the replay after the first game ended in a no score bore draw.
In the last round Clyde narrowly overcame fellow League Two side Stirling Albion to reach the fifth round. Both sides have had average seasons and haven’t much to play for in their respected leagues and Ayr should have enough to overcome Clyde. However, this is the cup and anything can happen, so don’t be surprised if a shock unfolds at Somerset Park.
Dunfermline vs Hamilton
Championship side Dunfermline Athletic take on Premiership strugglers Hamilton Academical at East End Park. Dunfermline are the team with the better form out of the two sides.
Hamilton’s recent form has been dreadful as they have only won once in their last ten league games. Dunfermline are hovering outside the Championship play-off places and will be confident of taking full advantage of Hamilton’s poor form and will hope to book themselves a place in the quarter-finals.
East Fife vs St Mirren
East Fife will be looking to build on the decent form they are currently enjoying in League One when they take on St Mirren on Saturday. The Fife are currently a point off the League One Play-off places, while their opposition St Mirren are glued to the bottom of the Scottish Championship and the cup probably isn’t high on the list of priorities for the Championship strugglers. Expect East Fife to give St Mirren a real challenge on Saturday and don’t be surprised if they put themselves in the hat for the next round.
Aberdeen vs Ross County
Aberdeen should have too much for Ross County when they visit Victoria Park on Saturday afternoon. Both sides enjoyed comfortable wins in the last round of the cup, with the home side beating Dundee United 6-2, while Aberdeen thrashed Stranraer 4-0. Aberdeen, who lie in second place in the Scottish Premiership, will be looking to add to their success this season. Also, securing a Europa League place looks like Aberdeen’s main target this year and they look determined to get one whether they secure one through finishing second or winning the Scottish Cup, Ross County will have a challenge on their hands to stop this Aberdeen team who are full of momentum.
St Johnstone vs Partick Thistle
St Johnstone will be favourites against Partick Thistle in their cup tie on Saturday afternoon. Both sides enjoyed comfortable wins in the last round but league form could have a say in the outcome of this tie.
Partick Thistle are at risk of being sucked into a relegation battle so their focus will be on the league rather on the cup. While St Johnstone have no worries about relegation but also have no realistic chance of challenging for Europe and so the Scottish Cup is their last chance for success this season. So expect them to go for the win as they try and make something of their season.
Hearts vs Hibs
Sunday’s Scottish Cup action is kicked off with the Edinburgh Derby between Heart of Midlothian and Hibernian at Tynecastle. Hibernian go into the derby in good form they beat Bonnyrigg Rose 8-1 in the last round and currently have a six-point lead at the top of the Championship and look on course to go up as champions. Hibs, of course, won the Scottish Cup last year after an 114-year wait and would love to win it again, especially if they beat their arch rivals on the way to lifting it once again.
Hearts have other ideas and will be looking to take the wind out of their fierce rivals sails. Hearts sit fourth in the Premiership and are breathing down the necks of Aberdeen and Rangers in the hope of securing a European spot and are in reasonably good form. Seeing Hibs lift the Scottish Cup would have hurt Hearts and they’ll definitely be looking to settle scores with their rivals and will be hoping to claim bragging rights of being the capital city’s top side as well some silverware. It will be a tight affair and the winner will be the side which wants it the most on the day.
Rangers vs Morton
The last tie in the fifth round is Rangers v Greenock Morton at Ibrox on Sunday afternoon. Rangers have had a poor season and have been second best to Old Firm rivals Celtic all season. This is the last chance for Rangers, who last won the competition in 2009 and were runners-up last year, to make something of their season before they go again next year. This could be the last chance for Mark Warburton to prove that he can handle the pressure of managing one of the biggest clubs in Scotland. Warburton needs a win to appease the Ibrox faithful, who are growing tired of poor performances and watching Celtic walk away with league, a shock defeat on Sunday could see Warburton getting his p45 in the post sooner than expected.
On the opposing view, Greenock Morton have enjoyed a decent season so far and will make the short trip to Ibrox with nothing to lose and will relish the chance to add even more misery to Rangers season. Rangers should have enough get past Morton but get ready for fireworks and the fall-out should the biggest upset in Scottish Cup history in years happens on Sunday.
Feature image credit: davefalconer