Scottish Cup: Last 32 preview!
It’s the time of the year that Scottish football fans live for — the Scottish Cup kick starting! The first round did kick off on the 21st of September however. The last 32 is where the Premiership teams come into play. The Scottish Cup much like the FA Cup is the biggest and best trophy available in Scotland, that is if you would take it over the Premiership title. The Scottish Cup gives teams like Auchinlek Talbot and East Kilbride a chance to showcase themselves to top clubs. It also gives teams a chance to enter Europe, with Scotland given 3 places in Europe (1st, 2nd and 3rd in the Premiership) it’s hard to make it in but the Scottish Cup let’s teams like Motherwell, St Johnstone and Dundee a chance to play in the major tournament. However the past 2 seasons, Celtic have won it aswell as the Premiership meaning the extra European spot dropped down to whoever came 4th in the Premiership. With this season being one of the most exciting in recent history, it’s safe to say that we are in for one hell of a Scottish Cup.
Celtic are obviously favourites to retain the trophy but Rangers, Aberdeen, Hearts, Hibs and Kilmarnock will all be dying to get there hands on the trophy. The last 32 kicks off on the 18th of January with League 2 side Cowdenbeath hosting Premiership title challengers, Rangers. Rangers will be huge favourites heading into the tie with their newly recruited players, Jermain Defoe and Steven Davis. With Cowdenbeath currently 6th in League 2, 22 points off the top it’s safe to say everybody is expecting a hammering. Rangers did meet Cowdenbeath in the Scottish Cup back in 2016 when Rangers made it to the final, eventually losing to Hibs 3-2. On the day Rangers hammered Cowdenbeath 5-1 pushing them on the road to Hampden. Could it be similar this year? Certainly Rangers now need to be taken very seriously for every trophy available to them domestically.
Following Fridays game in Cowdenbeath, the Saturday games aren’t shy of some cracking ties. Non league side Auchinlek Talbot host high flying Championship side, Ayr United in the early kick off. A win for the Talbot would certainly be one of the shocks of the round. There is also 1 of 2 all Premiership ties being played on the Saturday between St Johnstone and struggling Hamilton. With Hamilton slowly dragging themselves to the bottom of the league they have to return from the winter break and face a fierce St Johnstone side who currently sit 6th. The last 6 meetings between the two top flight teams have ended with a St Johnstone win including a 4-0 victory in their most recent encounter. There is also huge tasks at hand for the likes of Stenhousemuir and East Kilbride as they face Aberdeen and Inverness away respectively.
The late kick off on the Saturday comes at Celtic Park as the current holders face League 1 side, Airdrie! Nothing much exciting about this one except from the fact Scottish football could get there first taste of Celtics new signing, Timothy Weah! Airdrie can only hope for an off day and hit on the counter as it looks like an impossible job for Stevie Findlay and his men. Hibs, Motherwell, Dundee, Kilmarock and St Mirren all have home ties on the Saturday with all clubs hoping to get a cup run going. Motherwell who featured in both domestic cup finals last year will be hoping to forget about their start of the season and start off 2019 with a win against Ross County who were relegated last year from the top flight. Despite the Staggies being in the league below Motherwell, they have actually played at Fir Park already this season. They beat Motherwell’s colt side 2-1 in the IrnBru Cup Quarter Final. Kilmarnock should have a pretty straight forward job as they face Forfar Atheltic at Rugby Park. Dens Park plays host to the intriguing encounter between Dundee and Queen of the South aswell as St Mirren hosting part time Championship side, Alloa Athletic.
The Sunday only consists of one game but it is a fantastic one. Hearts host an over achieving Livingston side in hope of payback after Livingston emphatically won 5-0 in their most recent meeting. Livingston have had no joy in recent times at Tynecastle however Gary Holt and his men should be high in confidence after their first half of the season. Livingston have become one of Scottish Football’s biggest shocks after being in League 1 only 2 years ago they gained back to back promotion and are currently well clear of relegation in 7th spot.
The tie of the round in my own opinion will be the game between Dundee and Queen of the South. With Dundee struggling to find wins and Queen of the South brushing against a play off spot in the Championship, it will be interesting to see how this one pans out!