Rangers to scrape through
Gareth Friel previews this weekend's action in the Scottish Cup and fancies Rangers to knock out Dunfermline.
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A weekend of Scottish Cup action begins on Friday night with Rangers taking on League One rivals Dunfermline at Ibrox.
With five Premiership clubs already out and a further two set to follow this weekend (Celtic face Aberdeen and Dundee Utd take on St Mirren), Rangers will feel they have a big opportunity to post their best run since winning the Cup in 2009, although they may want to avoid Dundee United who have eliminated them in each of the last four seasons.
It seems a long time ago that Rangers were embarrassingly knocked out of the League Cup by Forfar. Since that defeat in August, Ally McCoist's side have won 27 of 28 matches, the only blemish a draw at home to Stranraer on Boxing Day.
Recent weeks have seen the Gers a bit vulnerable at home though. The draw with Stranraer was followed by a comfortable win over East Fife but they were made to sweat by both Arbroath and Brechin in their last two at Ibrox.
They had to come from behind twice against Arbroath and needed a dubious penalty 12 minutes from time to win 3-2 while they were made to hang on for a 2-1 victory against Brechin last Saturday after going down to ten men.
The League One leaders have defeated Saturday's opponents 4-0 and 3-1 but Jim Jefferies' side looked back to their best after a mini-slump against East Fife on Saturday.
That it's a Cup tie gives it an extra edge as does the fact it's on a Friday night live on TV. There is added pressure on Rangers and while they should make it through, it could be another tight one.
The prices about Rangers to win by one goal looks decent value.
If there is going to be an upset this weekend it could come at Stair Park where Stranraer take on League Cup finalists Inverness.
Caley Thistle made it to the final with a penalty shoot-out victory against Hearts last Sunday despite being down to nine men for extra time.
John Hughes' men did superbly well to deny Hearts in the extra 30 minutes but they really should have won the game in normal time. The draw at full time meant Hughes's side have won one of their last eight within 90 minutes.
The long trip south could be a difficult one. Stranraer have won eight of their last ten at home, including a League Cup victory against Inverness' Highland rivals Ross County.
I fancy a punt on Stranraer draw/no bet.