Okay, so while every other outlet talks about the World Cup final, debates VAR and discusses what hair style Paul Pogba should celebrate his World Cup winners medal with, let us look back at the opening weekend of the Betfred Cup.
Before we start, we’d like to wish all the best and hopefully a speedy recovery to Cove Rangers player Jordan Brown. Jordan was taken to hospital and his side’s friendly with Aberdeen this afternoon was abandoned following an apparent clash of heads.
The first fixture wasn’t exactly an instant classic, Kilmarnock and St Mirren played out a 0-0 draw, followed by some of the most unenthusiastic penalties you’ll ever see, which were won by St Mirren, giving the Buddies a bonus point. St Mirren probably looked the better of the two sides, if they can find themselves a decent goal scorer, they might have a good looking side there.
Meanwhile, difficult to judge Killie off of this game. Of course Youssef Mulumbu has left Rugby Park and the likes of Kris Boyd, Stephen O’Donnell and Greg Taylor were all missing for this clash. Nonetheless, Mulumbu will be a big miss in the centre of the park for Steve Clarke’s side.
We said in our preview that Arbroath were a side not to be underestimated, and Dundee United found that out first hand at Tannadice on Saturday. Bobby Linn levelled matters after Nicky Clark finally opened the scoring. After the draw it was Arbroath who took the bonus point, winning 5-3 on penalties. NE98 have had the pleasure of watching Arbroath in pre-season action twice this season (Thanks again to the club for being such a massive help) and more of the same should be expected from the League One side. Elsewhere in Group A, former Aberdeen striker Declan McManus was on target as things went a little more to plan, Ross County defeating League Two side Elgin City 2-0.
One of the bigger shocks of the day – but probably a close second – saw last season’s League Two Champions Montrose beat Paul Hartley’s Falkirk 1-0. The Championship side may well have underestimated Stewart Petrie’s side – they shouldn’t have, Falkirk were recently beaten by Highland League Champions Cove Rangers in a friendly – but by all accounts, Montrose were fantastically hard working and deserved the result. That result will surely spur Mo on to replicate last season’s form in the league above, although it’s another worrying side for Falkirk supporters. Another shock took place in Group B. Fellow League One side East Fife held Premiership St Johnstone to a 0-0 draw, although the Perth outfit did manage to take the bonus point via penalties. NE98 will be at Links Park on Tuesday for the fixture between Montrose and East Fife (No camera this time though) So keep an eye out on Twitter for our live reports.
Things went to plan for Inverness Caley Thistle in Group C. It might not have been overwhelming but their 2-0 victory over Cove Rangers was solid enough. Raith Rovers however, will be disappointed with their 2-0 loss to Cowdenbeath. Barry Smith’s side were incredibly close to winning the League One title last year. Instead Ayr United snatched the crown, leaving Raith to crash out of the playoffs at the semi-final stage. Smith will be anticipating another title challenge, but that looks unlikely if they produce results like this one – against very nearly relegated to Lowland League football Cowdenbeath – too often.
Dundee handed out a light trashing to Stirling Albion – aided by two Sofien Moussa goals – as they raced to the top of Group D. Nothing all that remarkable elsewhere in the group, League Two Peterhead did however, hold League One Brechin City to a 0-0 draw, to then win the penalty shoot-out for the additional point.
Lawrence Shankland scored 26 times to claim the Golden Boot in League One last season. There were rumours Craig Levein was after him this summer, but the former Aberdeen player signed a new deal with Ian McCall’s side. That decision was immediately justified as Shankland scored a hat-trick against Morton, one of his former sides, to help Ayr win 3-1. These two will do battle in the Championship this term and it’s a result that, while coming in early days, will give Ray McKinnon plenty food for thought – especially considering Morton were mentioning promotion in the search for a manager this summer. Partick Thistle didn’t look like they were struggling to bed in new signings, the Championship side want promotion straight back the Premiership this season and began the campaign with a 2-0 victory over Stenhousemuir.
Hamilton Academical of the Premiership were beaten 1-0 by League Two Annan Athletic. The reaction from Accies supporters across social media went exactly as you’d expect, but it’s probably not worthwhile questioning if this hints at relegation for Martin Canning’s team this season as in typical Accies fashion they’ll no doubt continue to hold some of the big sides to draws at New Douglas Park and avoid demotion once again…or maybe not. Livingston’s new player/ manager Kenny Miller was in action as his new side saw off Airdrieonians 2-1. Although there was a goal from a striker with “Miller” on his back, it was former Aberdeen and Falkirk player – Lee.
Group G saw eight goals shared between Queen of the South and Stranraer – a game we pointed out as one to watch in our preview. The Championship side took the spoils with a 5-3 victory, and they might give confidence to QOTS that they may challenge for progression to the next round. League Two sides Clyde and Edinburgh City drew 1-1, it was the Edinburgh side who won the bonus point in the shoot-out.
Group H is yet to have a goal in open play. Lowland League Champions Spartans held League One Dumbarton to a goalless draw, although the side relegated from the Championship last term avoided full on embarrassment, winning the penalties. Let’s hope Group H’s teams can find some goals on the next match day.
In terms of NE98’s schedule for the next couple weeks, we will be at the following games: Tue, 17th July, Montrose Vs East Fife (Twitter updates + Report), Wed 18th July, Cove Rangers Vs Hearts (Twitter updates + Report), Fri 20th July, Aberdeen Vs West Brom (Twitter updates + Report) Wed 25th July, Arbroath Vs Ross County (Filming to produce match round-up)