ST MIRREN need to up their game if they aim to advance to the succeeding round of the Viaplay Cup, and their next challenge lies in hosting Forfar Athletic, the surprising performers of the group stage, in a crucial game this Saturday.
So far, Stephen Robinson’s team has shown signs of struggle in this tournament, particularly when playing away. Despite a convincing 4-0 victory over Arbroath, Forfar’s local rivals, on their home turf, their performance away has been disappointingly poor.
They suffered a shocking 1-0 defeat to Montrose, another team from Angus, in the competition’s inaugural match, and a difficult midweek match saw them scraping a victory against Cowdenbeath of the Lowland League only after one of their players was shown the red card and they managed to score in the injury time.
This shaky start doesn’t bode well for the Buddies as they kick off their season, even with the recent swap of defender Declan Gallagher for James Bolton from Plymouth Argyle.
Contrarily, Forfar has shown impressive form by topping the group after three consecutive victories. This League Two team managed to defeat teams from superior leagues, including Montrose and Championship side Arbroath.
It seems as though manager Ray McKinnon’s aborted shift to assist Duncan Ferguson at Forest Green Rovers has only spurred them on.
Bookies’ predictions Despite their inconsistent performance, St Mirren are still pegged as strong favourites with 1/4 odds at bet365. Conversely, Forfar, aka the Loons, are considered long shots at 10/1 with 888sport.
Past face-offs The two clubs haven’t squared off in the last 18 years, leaving little historical data for reference. Intriguingly, in two of their last three encounters, Forfar managed to net five goals.
Key players to watch Toyosi Olusanya from St Mirren emerged as the saviour in their previous match, scoring a last-minute goal that clinched a win. Having spent the previous season at Arbroath on loan, he’s eager to prove his worth with the Saints.
Former Dundee forward Josh Skelly, having scored against both Montrose and Arbroath, will be looking to continue his scoring streak with a goal in the upcoming match in Paisley.