Being a Hearts fan, the Championship is where my main interest lies this year, however, I will still be keeping a close eye on the top flight as well.
Both teams have had basically an identical start to the season with one win and two defeats but probably with the main difference being the calibre of opponent each club has faced. Hibs succumbed away to a buoyant Hearts team in the Edinburgh derby, then also lost to decent looking Falkirk side at home. Whereas Alloa have defeats to Queen of the South and Raith Rovers but did surprise a few with a fabulous 3-0 away win to Cowdenbeath last weekend.
I have seen quite a bit of Hibs recently both in the flesh and live on TV and I believe that they will have too much for Alloa come Saturday. Allan Stubbs had a major job on his hands when he took over the reigns from the ousted Terry Butcher, who seemed to do his best to suck the morale out of the team in the closing part of last season which ultimately resulted in them getting relegated. For many at Easter Road it was clear that new personnel were required and Stubbs has just made his 6th summer signing bringing in Liam Fontaine at centre half to replace Michael Nelson.
This has been a position that has plagued them in the past but I can see him forging a decent partnership with Foster there, with “hotshot” goalie Oxley behind. Up front they have made a very good acquisition in El Alagui who is a proven goal scorer at this level with his time at Falkirk. He is already off the mark this season and I fully expect him to finish the season the clubs top goal scorer with backup goals coming from Heffernan/Handling playing just off him in what appears to be a 4-4-1-1 formation that Stubbs favours.
Alloa will take encouragement from last weeks win but more so in the fact that top goal scorer Greig Spence has started the season on fire with 7 goals in all competitions so far. The creative Liam Buchanan has been probably the most influential in Spence’s goals together with Kevin Crawley and veteran Jambo Stephen Simmons pulling the strings in midfield for Barry Smith’s side.
Will the pitch make a difference? Well, out of all the synthetic pitches that are now springing up more often, Recreation Park would have to be deemed the worse with the bounce likened to a concrete playground! However, Hibs do have plastic training pitches at their centre so I have no doubt they will have been practising on them all week in preparation.
This would certainly be a match where I would suggest Both Teams To Score would be a very likely outcome at 1.67 (Bet365) but the odds are just a little bit skinny to rely on both to find the net.
So, with my main bet I shall go against all my morals and upbringing and side with a Hibs away win at 1.91 (Coral). I think this is a great bet and fuelled a little by the public’s perception of Hibs but people forget that they are in transition and have not really been helped by a tough start to the season.
They fought back well midweek from 2 goals down against Dumbarton to progress in the cup, were rank rotten against Hearts in the derby but still scored late on to cause a bit of concern. But for me they were most impressive away to Rangers in the cup where they took Rangers to extra time to get narrowly beaten in a match they actually deserved to win in 90mins. If they play anything like that match they will win comfortably and in truth really should be winning matches like this with players like Oxley, Fontaine, Craig, Harris and El Alagui in their team.
Prediction : Alloa 1-2 Hibs
Bet: Hibs to win @ 1.91 (Coral)