Down to business for the Pars

  • By: Colin Ross
  • Last Updated: May 6 2014, 7:29 BST

Colin Ross previews the midweek Scottish lower league play-offs and fancies a fresh and rested Dunfermline to better Stranraer.

Dunfermline can get the better of Stranraer
Dunfermline can get the better of Stranraer

Drama, goals, tension, big crowds and heartache were all to the fore in the final regular Saturday of the Scottish lower league season.

The helicopter carrying the Championship trophy had three possible destinations but finally descended on Dundee's Dens Park in front of over 10,000 fans.

But not before closest rivals Hamilton had scored 10 against Morton meaning a leveller for Dumbarton at Dens would have seen the chopper re-route west to New Douglas Park.

Two or three fantastic tales from Saturday then but the play-off line up is now confirmed.

Almost unanimously I am siding with the favourites over the two legs to progress. They have the bonus of the second legs being at home on a Saturday with passionate home support.

Many firms have still to price up the 'to qualify' market which I find a little strange as serious punters may want to get involved rather than play on the often cagey first legs.

My 1pt selection, Dunfermline at around 13/10, travel to Stranraer for their first leg. The visitors are well rested and fresh and gaffer Jim Jefferies' hardest job will be to decide who to leave out.

The last few matches have been stop-start for the Fifers as second spot has been confirmed for a number of weeks. Indeed some of the team selections have been barely recognisable; the 11 who started and gained a creditable point against champions Rangers on Saturday will, almost en-bloc, be vying for a place on the bench come Wednesday evening.

I read little into form and results over March/April. The aim since last August has been Championship football in 2014-15 and the top play-off spot was secured with excellent displays and results from August through January.

Stranraer are no back numbers and finishing third has been a fantastic achievement for the west coasters. Manager Steve Aitken has not had the luxury of resting many of his squad and they endured a strength sapping eight games in 27 days from March into early April.

They will give no quarter and let Dunfermline know that they have been in a game but I just have the feeling the bit of class and extra squad depth will tell. Odds of 13/10 is not massive value, but having looked at the other matches it is favourable enough to have a small investment.

Elsewhere, if Cowdenbeath can recover from loss of a 97th minute goal which sees them in a play-off situation, they can succeed over two legs against a very inconsistent Ayr side but I can't put them up as Blue Brazil have one or two injury doubts.

I won't get involved midweek in the League 2 play-offs. However, I feel Annan will be best prepared and freshest as their spot has been confirmed for four weeks and manager Jim Chapman has been able to keep his squad fresh and get injured strikers back fit.

The outright prices do not have massive appeal, although the 7/1 and bigger about a Dunfermline/Annan double is worthy of consideration.

One price I would like a quote on, but will probably not get, is over the six games in the next two weeks that the League 1 play-offs will produce more goals than the League 2 matches. Over to the Bookies. !!!

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