Falkirk drew at Raith midweek and continue breathing down their neck at the top of the table. Both sides were humbled on the road last weekend and will be glad to be back home where they’ve found wins easier to come by. The Bairns were a bit laboured against form-side Montrose in their last outing at the Falkirk Stadium, but got over the line to make it 9 wins in 13, with 6 of those being by a margin of 2 or more. They’re averaging 2.46 goals per match, have scored 2+ in 8/13 and, in Declan McManus, have the league’s top non-penalty scorer, so will fancy their chances against the 3rd poorest away defence.
Peterhead have conceded 2+ in 12/26 league matches and 11 of those have come against teams in the top half. They’re averaging 2.21 goals against in those matches and shipped 7 in both previous matches against Falkirk.
There’s 1.40 available on Falkirk and they’ve gone off shorter in 5/13 homes, notably against Dumbarton and Forfar this side of Christmas. I rate Forfar around the same as Peterhead – and the table broadly agrees – whilst Dumbarton are 12 points better off than the Blue Toon and Falkirk were 1.33 in that fixture. They were 1.28 in this match earlier in the season and strolled to a 4-0 win, so I think the -1.50 handicap is a solid bet.
Whilst there’s only a point between the sides, and the market rates Falkirk as the better side, I felt Raith put in the better performance midweek. They had a clear style of play in the final third as they aimed to create high quality chances with through-balls and getting the fullbacks in behind for low crosses. Falkirk limited them to a handful of good opportunities by being compact, but I don’t feel Forfar are capable of a similar defensive showing.
The Loons did hold Raith to a goalless draw in their last visit to Starks, but their cautious approach has generally been hampering them in away matches. They’ve failed to score in 9/13 on the road and half their tally of 8 goals came in 1 match at basement club Stranraer. This isn’t surprising when you dig into the shot numbers; they’re bottom for shots taken per game (7.33) and 2nd bottom for shots faced (13.00). They’re 2 points back from Peterhead, so there is hope of avoiding the play-off spot, but I feel any survival bid will be on home form and matches against those around them.
The title looks like going to the wire and I fancy both of the top 2 to win the majority of their remaining home matches. Raith have taken 28 of their 50 points this season at home and 4/8 wins have been by 2 or more goals. Similarly, 5 of Forfar’s 8 defeats have been by that margin or greater. I’d expect Raith to keep a clean sheet and win here which would see us get our stake back at a minimum and a win if they can notch a couple of goals.