Draw The Best Bet In Scottish Championship Opener
Rangers v Hearts
Promoted Rangers take on relegated Hearts in a Scottish Championship opener which would have routinely been a fixture in Scotland’s top flight, but times are very different now for both clubs.
Rangers kicked off their season with a 2-1 win on the Scottish League Challenge Cup in midweek over Hibernian, the other Edinburgh heavyweight who now find themselves in the second tier. It was a hard fought victory for the Gers, as they game went to extra-time before Nicky Law’s neat curling finish sent them through.
Lewis MacLeod had given the hosts a 14th minute lead at Ibrox before Daniel Hadling equalised just before the hour mark, the Hibs striker was then sent off with ten minutes remaining in normal time and Ally McCoist’s side made the ten men pay in the additional period.
The Light Blues have had mixed fortunes in pre season; they were beaten in their last game against English Championship playoff finalists Derby County 2-0 after returning from a tour of the United States and Canada which saw them win three of four games but suffer defeat against little-known Ventura County Fusion in their opening match of the tour.
Hearts got their 2014/15 campaign underway last Saturday with a 3-1 victory over Annan Athletic in their Scottish League Challenge Cup clash. Goals from Billy King, Osman Sow and Callum Paterson had the Jambos sitting pretty going in at half-time and the game was long over as a contest by the time Scott Davidson grabbed a consolation for the visitors in the last minute.
Robbie Neilson’s side claimed a 4-0 win in their final pre-season game over Scottish Premier League side St Johnstone, an impressive result on the face of it although the latter were fielding a severely depleted team with a Europa League qualifier to prepare for.
Their other summer outings may be more significant as to where the team are as they lost to Ludogerets, Hamilton and English champions Manchester City but claimed wins over East Fife and Dinamo Bucaresti.
Swedish striker Sow scored four in four in pre-season as well as his strike against Annan.
Tunisian defender Bilel Mohsni is suspended for Rangers following an apparent head-butt which saw him sent off against Derby and misses the second of two games here. Former Gers stars Kris Boyd and Kenny Miller are expected to start up front as they get back into their second stints at the club while defender Marius Zaliukas is expected to make his league debut against his former club.
Defender Callum Paterson is out until October for Hearts after picking up a knee injury in the season’s opener. A host of new arrivals including Morgaro Gomis, Prince Bauben, Alim Ozturk, Soufian El Hassnaoui and James Keatings are in line for league debuts.
Hearts won on their last visit to the blue half of Glasgow with a 2-1 victory back in March 2012, Steven Davis had given the home side the lead on the stroke of half-time but goals form current Rangers star Ian Black and Jamie Hamill’s goal with only ten minutes to play earned all three points for his side. It was the only victory the Edinburgh club recorded against this opposition in the 2011/2012 season while Rangers have come out on top in eight of the last 12 meetings.
McCoist’s men are heavy favourites at 4/6 to open with a victory with the visitors out at 7/2. Despite their victory over Hibs last time out, Rangers were far from impressive and fortunate to face ten men during extra-time.
A win may be a little too much to ask from Hearts but they’re more than capable of securing a point so the 11/4 on a draw looks well worth a punt but with a striker in form like Sow, both sides scoring shouldn’t put anyone off despite odds-on prices of 8/11.