As with the Top 6, the bottom half of the SPFL Premiership also enters its first round of post-split fixtures this weekend with the games split over Saturday and Sunday.
There is still quite a bit to play for at the wrong end of the table other than pride, as none of the bottom six are mathematically guaranteed to avoid the relegation play-off. However, that battle is more than likely set to be contested most keenly by Kilmarnock, Hamilton, and Dundee United who still harbour ambitions of avoiding the automatic relegation spot. Dundee, Partick, and Inverness should all be just about safe from the play-off spot and therefore their main incentive is finishing in seventh, and theoretically ending the season with more points than the sixth placed club.
Partick Thistle Vs. Dundee (Sat)
Dundee visit Firhill in the only bottom six fixture to played on Saturday on the back of narrowly missing out on a top six place to Ross County on matchday 33. The Dens Parkers however have only won once in their last five games and therefore their failure to land a much sought after top six finish should not have come as much of a surprise.
Thistle, on the other hand, has averaged 1.4 points per game in their last five outings, the joint fourth best in the league over the period. Partick’s recent points haul – 7 out of 15 – can be attributed to their mean and well organised defence which is currently conceding less than a goal per game. Unfortunately, at the other end they are also scoring less than a goal per game, making the Jags the league’s lowest scorers over the course of the season.
Looking at the previous meeting of the clubs this season it is Dundee who have the upper hand, winning two and drawing one with a goal difference of plus three. Dundee will be a wounded animal after missing out on the top six and with the threat of Kane Hemmings up front, Dundee should be too strong for Thistle.
Away win, 2-1 Dundee.
|Partick Thistle 0 – 1 Dundee||12/09/2015|
|Dundee 1 – 1 Partick Thistle||07/11/2016|
|Partick Thistle 2 – 4 Dundee||16/01/2016|
Inverness Caley Thistle Vs. Kilmarnock (Sun)
Kilmarnock will go into this game on a high for possibly the first time this season after their three nil demolition of St. Johnstone two weeks ago. That win, coupled with Dundee United’s capitulation at home to Inverness, has left Kilmarnock with an eight point advantage over their relegation rivals. This cushion should provide Killie with the freedom to enjoy the remaining fixtures a little more while focussing their efforts on chasing down 10th placed Hamilton.
Despite banging three past St. Johnstone, goals have still been an issue for Kilmarnock this season and fans of the Rugby Park club will be hoping they haven’t scored all their goals in one match; only Partick Thistle have scored less. The arrival of Lee Clark however has led to a shoring up of Kilmarnock’s previously leaky defence but until they rediscover the goal scoring touch on a regular basis Kilmarnock will find it difficult to lift themselves up the table.
Home side Inverness have had an inconsistent season, hence their lowly league position. However they have picked up slightly in the last five games picking up 7 out of a possible 15 points. As with Partick Thistle, Inverness’ recent good form – which includes two wins in their last five – has been down to a watertight defence; Inverness have only 3 times in their last five matches.
Previous encounters this season have been close with the home side winning on every occasion, and on each occasion the home side has scored twice. Given that both defences have been on form lately and neither side has been in consistent goal scoring form I can this one being a close game which could go either.
|Kilmarnock 2 – 0 Inverness CT||17/10/2015|
|Inverness CT 2 – 1 Kilmarnock||12/12/2015|
|Kilmarnock 2 – 1Inverness CT||16/01/2016|
Dundee United Vs. Hamilton (Sun)
Bottom club Dundee United have a mountain to climb, eight point adrift of safety with just five games left to save a season that appears to be quickly slipping away. And yet, had they not chucked it against Inverness last time out they might just have been able to maintain enough momentum to trouble Kilmarnock. Regardless of Kilmarnock’s results, from here on in Dundee United must win every game if they are to avoid finishing in last place.
But with only one win in their last five, scoring less than a goal a game, and conceding 1.4 per game the odds must now be stacked against them. Their only solace must be that they playing the teams around them, fellow strugglers, with each game being a six pointer.
Hamilton come into this game having one two of their last five but, like their hosts, have scored less than a goal per game in this period. They are, however, unbeaten against United this term and have already tasted victory at Tannadice this season.
Dundee United are firmly entrenched in Last Chance Saloon territory with every game and every point vital at this stage, however they have severely lacked any semblance of fight of late and it is difficult to see them getting a positive result in this match.
Hamilton to sneak it 1-0.
|Hamilton 4 – 0 Dundee Utd||15/08/2015|
|Dundee Utd 1 – 2 Hamilton||28/11/2015|
|Hamilton 0 – 0 Dundee Utd||13/02/2016|