In Round one of the Betfred Cup, Group E presented some surprising performances. A group with one Premiership side, one Championship club and two League One sides would normally play out in the same order – first, second, third and fourth, respectively. However, Dunfermline Athletic and Falkirk had different ideas as they both progressed to the knockout round, leaving Kilmarnock in third place. The Ayrshire giants were outplayed in their opening couple of fixtures, as both the Pars and the Bairns smashed 3 against them, before winning their next two games to finish on six points. Dunfermline went through with 4 wins from 4 and second-placed Falkirk were also granted their place in the next round with a greater number of points over the other second-placed teams.
In Round one, Group F was witness to, perhaps, the largest upset in this edition of the Betfred Cup. As a group comprising of three League Two sides, qualifying should have been a stroll in the park for Hamilton Academical. However, shock defeats to Annan Athletic (3-1) and Stranraer (2-1) saw them finish on only 6 points. Their dismal form in the top tier could also be a contributing factor, as they find themselves bottom of the table with a measly 7 points from 13 games in the Premiership. Meanwhile, Championship side Ayr went through with just 8 points, the lowest points total for teams in the second stage of the Cup.
No more shocks in the next group as Paisley side St. Mirren went through. A glorious 4-1 win against Partick Thistle in the first match should have heralded a comfortable finish to first place. However, stalemates against Championship opponents Queen of the South and Greenock Morton required penalty shootouts before they could ascertain victory. The only disappointment in group G would probably be high-flying League Two side Queen’s Park, who are top of the charts after 5 games (4 wins, 1 draw, 0 goals conceded), as they crashed out without a single point to their name.
Last but not least, Group H played out as predicted. Struggling Premiership side Livingston comfortably won all their games as they hammered 15 goals in just 4 matches against their opponents, confirming top spot and place in the playoffs. In second place, second division team Alloa Athletic qualified on 9 points, with their only loss against Livi away. Both teams played some good attacking football as Alloa also ended the Round one of the Betfred Cup with two goals a game.
With the completion of Round one of the Betfred Cup, we see last season’s top four Scottish Premiership sides – holders Celtic, Rangers, Aberdeen and Motherwell – join the rest in the knockouts, which are scheduled to commence from today.