Our Bet of the Day for Monday takes us to Paisley, where Oran Kearney’s St. Mirren could really do with a point or three in their battle against an immediate and automatic return to the second tier of Scottish football. Kearney’s men face Kilmarnock – whose better-than-expected season has somewhat hit the rocks with just two points from their last five games. Killie, who this season briefly sat on top of the Premiership under the impressive management of Steve Clarke, will start this game as clear favourites.
The Buddies, who sit a single point behind Dundee at the bottom of the table, carry some form into this game in the shape of a last-minute win in their previous game at home to Livingston. Statistics are not on their side, however, as they have not won two consecutive games at any stage this season and they face a side which, even when not picking up as many points as they would have hoped, have still performed well above the level expected of them this season. With Killie seeking points to buttress a shot at European football, the home side will need to fight for anything they can get here.
A Low-Scoring Clash In Prospect
St. Mirren’s goose is by no means cooked. At this stage of the season, with ten games left, they are just behind second-bottom Dundee and are within four points of Hamilton in the last “safe” spot in the division. The Paisley side also hold a game in hand over the sides immediately above them, and anything other than a defeat here would lift them above Dundee into eleventh – a position which, if they finished there, would see them face a promotion/relegation play-off with the second-placed side in the Championship. They’d sooner avoid that altogether, but to do that they’ll need a win or two between now and the end of the season.
The big problem for Kearney’s side is that this will necessitate the scoring of a few goals, and that’s been something they’ve struggled to do all season. Statistically, theirs is the second-worst attack in the division and they’ll be hard-pushed to improve upon that record against a Kilmarnock side that has one of the league’s stingiest defences. Add to that the fact that Killie themselves have hardly been prolific, and the presence of the wily Anton Ferdinand in the home defence, and it seems certain that this will be a game short on goalmouth action. Coral are offering 4/7 on this game featuring fewer than 2.5 goals, and that seems like a decent bet given the strengths and weaknesses of the teams involved.
A Return To Winning Ways For Clarke’s Men?
Although Kilmarnock have struggled for points recently, the difficulty of recent fixtures has had some bearing on their record. A recent home game against defending champions Celtic saw Killie come agonisingly close to a draw, Scott Brown’s injury-time winner denying the hosts a point. Since coming out of the winter break, they’ve also picked up a point at third-placed Aberdeen and won against Rangers. A draw against Motherwell, too, may not sound like a great result, but it’s worth remembering that ‘Well were Scotland’s form team in February. Only in a recent loss at Livingston have Killie really disappointed.
Although Clarke’s men haven’t hit the heights of the first half of the season, when they were giving both Glasgow sides a run for their money, this game doesn’t really demand that level of performance. St Mirren are, very clearly, not a side on a par with Celtic or Rangers. Therefore, Paddy Power’s odds of 10/11 on a Killie win seem to be longer than they should be. Those odds may be motivated by recent results, but they fail to take account of the Buddies’ own limitations. Backing a Kilmarnock win here would be a wise choice.
Buddies To Draw Another Blank
Although St. Mirren won last time out, it would be unwise to sugar-coat things. Livingston, now safe from relegation in every meaningful sense, were always something of a soft touch for points and, in a home game, it still took until the period added on at the end of the match for Kearney’s side to break them down. With Kilmarnock resolute in their need for points to stay above fifth-placed Hearts, this game will present greater challenges for the home side. It’s hard to see them meeting those challenges successfully, even with the recent arrival of pacey Haitian striker Duckens Nazon.
In light of these glaring limitations, we suspect that the league’s bottom side will go without a goal once more here. Our choice for Bet of the Day is at MansionBet, who have odds of 9/5 on Kilmarnock to win to nil. Pacey striker Eamonn Brophy has been a nuisance to some of the best defences in the country in recent months, and against St. Mirren’s porous back line he’s always going to set alarm bells ringing. Therefore we see Kilmarnock scoring, and St Mirren not scoring. The conclusion from that is clear, and Kearney & co. will need to look to their upcoming games for the points they need.
Bets of the Day:
Kilmarnock win to nil (9/5, MansionBet); Kilmarnock win (10/11, Paddy Power); Fewer than 2.5 Goals (4/7, Coral)