The Betfred Cup delivered once again with the second round of group stage fixtures. Shocks and goals were once again on the menu.
We will jump over Group A for a moment, to allow us to start with Group B, which had the first of our featured games – Montrose Vs East Fife. I was at Links Park to watch as the two League One sides battled after impressive results for both last weekend – East Fife holding St Johnstone to a draw and Montrose defeating Falkirk. It was a pretty even affair, although most of the real chances fell to Montrose. The home side took the lead early in the second half through Danny Cavanagh. With six points on the board last year’s League Two Champions may be beginning to dream of progression to the next round. The Angus side can also take a lot of encouragement from their League Cup performances heading into the league season – it would not be surprising to see their momentum carrying them forward towards a challenge for the playoffs. Elsewhere in Group B, Falkirk are back on track after their loss to Montrose last weekend. Falkirk endured a tough first half, including the Bairns keeper Robbie Mutch saving a Forfar penalty but went on to record a 2-0 victory. Montrose currently hold the top spot in the group and will face Premiership side St Johnstone on Saturday.
Going back to Group A, Dundee United are still struggling to find their feet. The Tannadice side drew against Arbroath at the weekend and faced a tricky tie away in the Highlands against Ross County. Nicky Clark missed a late penalty, which was only made worse when Jamie Lindsay netted for the home side minutes later, giving the staggies all three points. Arbroath could not build on their impressive start days ago losing 4-2 to new Championship side Alloa Athletic. The strike partnership of Alan Trouten and Greig Spence could be a handful for Championship defences this season, with Trouten picking up a goal and Greig Spence netting a brace in this game. Lewis Toshney – who joined on loan from Dundee United earlier this week – had a debut to forget for Arbroath, converting into his own net for Alloa’s other goal. County sit on top of the group with six points and will be confident of securing passage to the next round. Second spot, however, is wide open, although it’s currently occupied by Alloa.
On Tuesday night Inverness recovered from a difficult start to win a seven goal thriller at Central Park as they faced League Two Cowdenbeath. Jordyn Sheerin scored both goals for Cowdenbeath – including the opener – his side are looking far better than last season, where they were very close to dropping into the Lowland League. Inverness fought back however, Aaron Doran and Tom Walsh both grabbed two goals each. Our other featured game took place on Wednesday night. Cove Ranger’s hosted their first competitive game at new ground Balmoral Stadium against Hearts. We were in attendance as goals from new signings Olly Lee and Steven MacLean, followed by a Cove reply from Paul McManus saw the Premiership side pick up all three points. Hearts were playing quite a few new signings, many of whom look as though they will be important parts of their system this season, although the Highland League Champions gave them a decent challenge.
Dunfermline got their League Cup up and running more –or-less perfectly. The Championship side put three past League Two Peterhead without reply and will be confident going into their clash with Dundee this weekend. Dundee weren’t in action for this set of games, so they will have the benefit of rest ahead of the fixture on Sunday. Brechin picked up a win for the first time since November last year as they defeated Stirling Albion 2-1. This leaves last season’s relegated Championship side (without a win) sitting on top of group D. Although, both Dundee and Dunfermline who are just a point behind Brechin have played just a game each.
Partick Thistle continue to look good for a title challenge in the Championship this season, as they go top of Group E, while Ray McKinnon has more to worry about for Morton. Relegated Thistle scored twice within the first half an hour. Morton got a goal back late on but ultimately fell to their second defeat of the League Cup group stage, following their loss to Ayr United at the weekend. Stenhousemuir are level with Ayr in second place – having played a game more – after putting four past Albion Rover. Both sides swapped leagues last season, Stenny being promoted to League One, with Albion relegated. Aberdeen fans will be interested to know that young don Seb Ross was on target for the League One side.
Annan Athletic continued their fantastic start to the season with a 4-0 win over Berwick Rangers. After beating Premiership side Hamilton on the first game day, such an empathic win over fellow League Two team Berwick will have Annan supporters hopeful of the season ahead. Annan are currently sitting on top of group F, a point ahead of Premiership new boys Livingston. Kenny Miller’s new side have had a decent start, following up last weekend’s win over Airdrie with a 0-0 draw against Hamilton at New Douglas Park. It was Livi who won the following penalty shootout, giving them a bonus point and they now look to have a good chance of progressing to the 2nd round.
Group G had eight goals in total on Tuesday, all shared between the two home sides. Edinburgh City will be sick of the sight of Motherwell. Stephen Robinson’s team beat the League Two side in the group stages last season, matched again this season, Motherwell were victors, this time wining 5-0, with Elliot Frear notching a hat-trick. Queen of the South followed up their victory over Stranraer at the weekend with a 3-0 win over Clyde. This result leaves QOTS top of the group, with Motherwell having only played one game.
Finally, Group H had one of the bigger, if not the biggest shocks of the tournament so far. Spartans were at one point, leading Premiership new boys St Mirren by two goals to nil. While St Mirren eventually came back to draw the game 2-2, and then winning the extra point via the shootout. This will of course come as a massive knock in confidence for the Buddies. Having a home game against a Lowland league side, even the most negative of Saint’s fans wouldn’t have expected to fall behind by two goals. While credit will be given for the comeback, Alan Stubbs will certainly feel as though they’ve missed out on an additional point. Dumbarton put themselves top of the group, taking advantage of St Mirren’s slip up with a 1-0 win over Queen’s Park.