Ayr and Clyde aim to end winless runs

Ayr United v Clyde – Match by numbers

Ayr United take on Clyde for a place in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals. The Honest Men last reached that stage in 2012, while Clyde have been waiting since 2005. Whatever happens, at least two non-Premiership teams will be in the draw for the next round making an appearance at the national stadium not outwith the realms of possibility.

5– The two sides have met five times before in the Scottish Cup and have never required a replay to decide the winner. Clyde won the first meeting, a third round tie at Shawfield, 8-3 in February 1953. The Bully Wee have been dominant against their Ayrshire rivals in the Cup, winning four of the five ties. The Honest Men’s only victory came at Shawfield in February 1972 when they won the third round tie 1-0. That tie remains the only time Clyde have failed to score against Ayr in a Scottish Cup match.

7– Clyde travel to Somerset Park having not won an away game since a 2-0 Scottish Cup second round win against Brora Rangers on October 22. They have picked up two draws on the road since, losing their other five. Coincidentally, Ayr haven’t won a home game since October 22 either. The 1-0 win against Queen of the South is their most recent league win. In the seven games since, they have drawn with Queen’s Park in the Scottish Cup and Dumbarton in the league losing the other five.

14– The teams last met in July 2014 at Broadwood in the Challenge Cup. Barry Ferguson’s first match in charge of Clyde ended with the League Two side upsetting League One Ayr after first half goals from Scott McManus and John Sweeney saw them record a 2-0 win. The Cumbernauld side have a decent recent record against the Ayrshire outfit, you have to go back to August 2012 for the Honest Men’s last win against Clyde, a 6-1 thumping at Somerset in first round of the League Cup. That was Ayr’s only win in the last 14 meetings, losing eight and drawing the other five.

17– Ayr have hosted their Lanarkshire rivals nine times since the turn of the Millennium, losing only twice. Of the other seven matches, Ayr won four with three ending in draws. The last Clyde victory came in May 2003 when Alan Kernaghan’s charges recorded a 3-0 win. That season, Clyde finished second in Division One with the Honest Men in sixth. Neither side has recorded a better finish since, however Clyde did end up second the following season but with less points.

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Who’ll make the top six?

With just 10 matches to go until the Premiership splits in two, Celtic are already guaranteed a top six place. Another four places look certain to go to Aberdeen, Rangers Hearts and St Johnstone but any one of Dundee, Hamilton, Inverness CT, Kilmarnock, Motherwell, Partick Thistle or Ross County could complete the top half.

So, who will it be? Taking into account the results from the first 22 rounds of action, here is one possible outcome.

predictions

By weighting the results of the opening matches (Rounds 1 to 11 weighted 60%, 12 to 22 40%) to take into account the venue for each team’s remaining matches and rounding to the nearest whole number, Kilmarnock would sneak into sixth place by a single point over Partick Thistle and Ross County.

Celtic would comfortably be champions with an Old Firm title decider on March 12 not out of the question and Aberdeen would be guaranteed a Europa League place.

However, there are a couple of things to consider before we can confidently predict who will take sixth.

Firstly, Aberdeen have only played Motherwell once. The table above assumes that Aberdeen will win when the sides meet for their rescheduled round 10 match at Pittodrie on February 15. This seems reasonable considering the Steelmen have picked up just one point against the top five teams so far this season.

Should Motherwell win that game however, they would be the team sneaking into sixth place because they would be expected to pick up more points from their last 10 games than they currently are. It would also see Aberdeen slip down to third and needing another two points to guarantee a place in the Europa League qualifiers.

Taking a look at the unrounded table below shows just how tight it will be for that sixth spot.

predictions2

As a result, goal difference could be huge for Kilmarnock, Patrick Thistle and Ross County and the Jags have no small advantage over their opponents in that respect. Heavy defeats at the hands of Aberdeen and Celtic see Kilmarnock currently on -18 and Ross County are on -15 meaning Partick’s -6 would make them favourite to nick sixth spot.

The final thing to consider are the five games played this midweek. This doesn’t affect Dundee or Kilmarnock after their match was rearranged for February 11 when most of the rest of the league are competing in the Scottish Cup. Four of the games went the way the table would expect.

Motherwell’s win over Ross County and Celtic beating Aberdeen were bankers if the above table is to pan out. St Johnstone’s win over Partick Thistle and Hearts thrashing of Rangers were the favoured result but draws weren’t out of the question. Inverness’s 3-0 defeat to Hamilton wasn’t.

That match was looked at as being another draw given the previous two meetings had ended that way. If Hamilton continue to draw approximately half their games the only difference would be a closer fight for 11th place but it goes to show that not all the results will pan out.

From this statistical point of view, and all the above considered, Partick Thistle would be favourites for sixth given their advantageous goal difference but Kilmarnock, Ross County and Dundee will push them all the way.