Until recently, Rangers and East Stirlingshire couldn’t have been any further apart in Scottish footballing terms. While Rangers have been crowned champions of Scotland five times in the last ten years, East Stirling have finished bottom of the Third Division on no less than six occasions during this period.
The prospect of the two sides meeting on league duty was about as likely as John Terry receiving a joint Christmas card from Wayne Bridge and Anton Ferdinand.
However, the last six, crazy months in Scottish football have turned the unthinkable into reality and, on Saturday, Ally McCoist’s Rangers will run out of the tunnel at Ibrox Stadium next to a side who managed only eight points in an entire Third Division campaign just a few years ago.
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Unfortunately for East Stirling, Rangers’ demise in terms of league status hasn’t really correlated to a similar drop-off in playing quality on the park.
In their one home game so far, Rangers romped to a 4-0 League Cup victory over Second Division East Fife.
McCoist has strengthened his squad over the summer by adding a host of players with top flight experience in Scotland, England and across Europe. Ian Black, Dean Shiels, Emilson Cribari, Kevin Kyle and Fran Sandaza join the likes of Lee Wallace, Lee McCulloch, Carlos Bocanegra, Kirk Broadfoot, Neil Alexander, Andrew Little and Dorin Goian in what is, without doubt, one of the strongest sides in the entire country, let alone the Third Division.
Despite this, Rangers have started the season in stuttering fashion. They required extra time to scrape past Second Divison Brechin City in their Ramsdens Cup opener at Glebe Park, before a scrambled injury-time equaliser saved a point away to Peterhead as they kicked off their league campaign with a 2-2 draw last weekend.
In their one home game so far, though, they romped to a 4-0 League Cup victory over Second Division East Fife, and this could be the key factor tomorrow. While Rangers could face some stern resistance at some of the tighter, less glamorous venues across the country, at Ibrox they should be almost impregnable in front of crowds 100 times bigger than most of their opponents are used to and on a pitch that will suit their considerably more talented players.
For this reason, it is impossible to see anything other than an easy Rangers victory. At odds of just 3/50 to win the game, it makes little sense to back this outcome. Instead, betting on five or more goals in the game at odds of 9/5 will represent better value for money – new customers to bwin who use their free £20 bet to back this outcome stand to win £56 if successful.
East Stirling lost their only league game of the season so far 2-0 at home to Queen’s Park and will surely be satisfied with escaping Ibrox with some semblance of dignity still in tact. Huge odds of 22/1 on an away win will, I imagine, remain almost untouched by punters, as indeed will odds of 7/1 on the draw.
Last weekend’s draw at Peterhead proved that Rangers won’t have it entirely their own way in Scotland’s bottom tier this season, but East Stirling are surely one of the weakest opponents Rangers will ever face, and nothing less than a hammering is conceivable.
Recommended bet: Five or more goals in Rangers v East Stirling
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