League Cup Group Stage

The final group stage matches of the 2015/16 League Cup will be played this weekend, and 11 of the 12 qualification spots are still up for grabs.  Rangers (the only Premiership side to have played all 4 matches) are the only side who have already secured progression to the next round.

Group Winners

The 8 group winners will be guaranteed a spot in the next round of the competition.

A total of 18 clubs still have a theoretical chance of winning their group, and the permutations required for each club are listed below.  Note that ludicrously unlikely permutations of results have been placed in italics.

Group A

East Fife are top of the group with 8 points, but have already played all of their matches.  Peterhead or Forfar Athletic could still overhaul them.

East Fife will win the group if:

  • Peterhead fail to beat Dumbarton (A) and Forfar fail to beat Dundee (A)
  • Peterhead fail to beat Dumbarton (A) and Forfar beat Dundee (A) 1-0.

 

Peterhead will win the group if:

  • Peterhead win against Dumbarton (A)
  • Peterhead earn 2 points against Dumbarton (A) AND Forfar fail to beat Dundee.
  • Peterhead earn 2 points against Dumbarton (A) AND Forfar beat Dundee by a one goal margin.
  • Peterhead earn 2 points against Dumbarton (A) AND Forfar beat Dundee by a two goal margin AND Peterhead score at least the same number of goals as Forfar on Saturday.

 

Forfar Athletic will win the group if:

  • Forfar win against Dundee (A) by any scoreline other than 1-0 AND Peterhead take 1 point or fewer against Dumbarton (A).
  • Forfar win against Dundee (A) by a two goal margin AND Peterhead earn no more than 2 points against Dumbarton (A) and Forfar score more goals than Peterhead on Saturday.
  • Forfar win against Dundee (A) by a margin of 3 goals or more AND Peterhead earn no more than 2 points against Dumbarton (A).

 

 

Group B

St Johnstone currently lead the way with 7 points, ahead of Stirling Albion (6) and Brechin City (5).

St Johnstone will win the group if:

  • St Johnstone beat Stirling Albion (H).
  • St Johnstone earn 2 points against Stirling Albion (H)
  • St Johnstone earn 1 point against Stirling Albion (H) AND Brechin City take 2 points or fewer against Falkirk (A).
  • St Johnstone earn 1 point against Stirling Albion (H) AND Brechin City beat Falkirk (A) by a margin of 5 goals or fewer.
  • St Johnstone earn 1 point against Stirling Albion (H) AND Brechin City beat Falkirk (A) by a margin of 6 goals AND (Goals scored by Brechin – Goals scored by St Johnstone) < 2.

 

Stirling Albion will win the group if:

  • Stirling Albion beat St Johnstone (A).

 

Brechin City will win the group if:

  • Brechin City beat Falkirk (A) by a margin of 7 goals or more AND Stirling Albion defeat St Johnstone (A) on penalties.
  • Brechin City beat Falkirk (A) by a margin of 6 goals or more AND Stirling Albion defeat St Johnstone (A) on penalties AND Brechin score at least 2 more goals than St Johnstone.

 

Group C

Inverness Caledonian Thistle (7 points) currently lead the table by virtue of having scored more away goals than Dundee United (7 points).  Dunfermline (6 points) are in third place, and can still win the group.

Inverness will win the group if:

  • Inverness beat Arbroath (H) AND Dundee United fail to beat Dunfermline (H).
  • Inverness beat Arbroath (H) AND Dundee United beat Dunfermline (H) AND Inverness record a bigger winning margin than Dundee United.
  • Inverness beat Arbroath (H) AND Dundee United beat Dunfermline (H) AND Inverness record the same winning margin as Dundee United AND Inverness score at least as many goals as Dundee United.
  • Inverness earn 2 points against Arbroath (H) AND Dunfermline beat Dundee United (A) by a margin of 2 goals or fewer.
  • Inverness earn 2 points against Arbroath (H) AND Dunfermline beat Dundee United (A) by a margin of 3 goals AND Inverness score as many goals as Dunfermline.
  • Inverness earn 2 points against Arbroath (H) AND Dunfermline beat Dundee United (A) by a 3-0 scoreline AND Inverness score at least 2 goals.
  • Inverness earn 2 points against Arbroath (H) AND Dundee United earn 1 point against Dunfermline (H).
  • Inverness earn 2 points against Arbroath (H) AND Dundee United earn 2 points against Dunfermline (H) AND Inverness score at least the same number of goals as Dundee United.
  • Inverness earn 1 point against Arbroath (H) AND Dundee United earn 1 point against Dunfermline (H) AND Inverness score at least the same number of goals as Dundee United.

 

Dundee United will win the group if:

  • Dundee United beat Dunfermline (H) AND Inverness fail to beat Arbroath (H).
  • Dundee United beat Dunfermline (H) AND Inverness beat Arbroath (H) AND Dundee United have a larger winning margin than Inverness.
  • Dundee United beat Dunfermline (H) AND Inverness beat Arbroath (H) AND Dundee United have the same winning margin as Inverness AND Dundee United score more goals than Inverness.
  • Dundee United earn 2 points against Dunfermline (H) AND Inverness earn 1 point or fewer against Arbroath (H).
  • Dundee United earn 2 points against Dunfermline (H) AND Inverness earn 2 points against Arbroath (H) AND Dundee United score more goals than Inverness.
  • Dundee United earn 1 point against Dunfermline (H) AND Inverness lose to Arbroath (H).
  • Dundee United earn 1 point against Dunfermline (H) AND Inverness earn 1 point against Arbroath (H) AND Dundee United score more goals than Inverness.

 

Dunfermline Athletic will win the group if:

  • Dunfermline beat Dundee United (A) AND Inverness take 1 point or fewer against Arbroath (H).
  • Dunfermline beat Dundee United (A) by a margin of at least 4 goals AND Inverness take 2 points against Arbroath (H).
  • Dunfermline beat Dundee United (A) by a 3 goal margin AND Inverness take 2 points against Arbroath (H) AND Dunfermline score at least 2 more goals than Inverness.
  • Dunfermline beat Dundee United (A) by a 3 goal margin AND Inverness take 2 points against Arbroath (H) AND Dunfermline score exactly one more goal than Inverness AND Dunfermline score at least 4 goals.

 

Note that, no matter what happens in other matches, both Inverness and Dundee United can guarantee progression to the next round by winning their respective matches.  10 points is enough to guarantee one of the best runner-up spots.

 

Group D

Alloa Athletic lead the group with 9 points and face a winner takes all clash with second placed Raith Rovers (8 points).

Alloa Athletic will win the group if:

  • Alloa avoid defeat against Raith Rovers (A).

 

Raith Rovers will win the group if:

  • Raith Rovers beat Alloa (H).

 

Note that if Raith defeat Alloa on penalties, then both sides would have 10 points.  Alloa would win the group on goal difference, but Raith would be guaranteed progression to the next round as one of the best runners-up.

 

Group E

Partick Thistle lead the way with 9 points and only Queen of the South (6) can catch them.

Partick Thistle will win the group if:

  • Partick Thistle avoid defeat against Queen’s Park (H).
  • Partick Thistle lose to Queen’s Park (H) AND Queen of the South fail to beat Stenhousemuir (H).
  • Partick Thistle lose to Queen’s Park (H) by a one goal margin AND Queen of the South beat Stenhousemuir (H) by a one goal margin AND (Goals scored by Queens – Goals scored by Thistle) < 3.

 

Queen of the South will win the group if:

  • Queen of the South beat Stenhousemuir (H) AND Partick Thistle lose to Queen’s Park (H) AND there is at least a 3 goal swing in terms of goal difference.
  • Queen of the South beat Stenhousemuir (H) by a one goal margin AND Partick Thistle lose to Queen’s Park (H) by a one goal margin AND Queen of the South score at least 3 more goals than Partick Thistle.

 

Group F

Rangers have already secured Group F with 12 points.

 

Group G

Ayr United lead the group with 9 points, but have already played all of their matches.  Hamilton and St Mirren are both on 6 points with one game remaining.

Ayr United will win the group if:

  • Hamilton fail to beat Livingston (H) AND St Mirren fail to beat Edinburgh City (H).
  • Hamilton fail to beat Livingston (H) AND St Mirren beat Edinburgh City (H) by a margin of 3 goals or fewer.

 

Hamilton Accies will win the group if:

  • Hamilton beat Livingston (H) AND St Mirren fail to beat Edinburgh City (H).
  • Hamilton beat Livingston (H) AND St Mirren beat Edinburgh City (H) AND (St Mirren’s winning margin – Hamilton’s winning margin) < 5.
  • Hamilton beat Livingston (H) AND St Mirren beat Edinburgh City (H) AND (St Mirren’s winning margin – Hamilton’s winning margin) = 5 AND (Goals scored by St Mirren – Goals scored by Hamilton) <5.

 

St Mirren will win the group if:

  • St Mirren beat Edinburgh City (H) by a margin of 4 or more goals AND Hamilton fail to beat Livingston (H).
  • St Mirren beat Edinburgh City (H) AND Hamilton beat Livingston (H) AND (St Mirren’s winning margin – Hamilton’s winning margin) > 5.
  • St Mirren beat Edinburgh City (H) AND Hamilton beat Livingston (H) AND (St Mirren’s winning margin – Hamilton’s winning margin) = 5 AND (Goals scored by St Mirren – Goals scored by Hamilton) > 4.

 

Group H

Morton lead the way with 8 points, ahead of Kilmarnock (6) in second.

Greenock Morton will win the group if:

  • Morton take at least 2 points against Berwick Rangers (H).
  • Kilmarnock take 1 point or fewer against Albion Rovers (H).
  • Morton take 1 point against Berwick Rangers (H) AND Kilmarnock beat Albion Rovers (H) by a margin of 2 goals or fewer.
  • Morton take 1 point against Berwick Rangers (H) AND Kilmarnock beat Albion Rovers (H) by a margin of 3 goals AND Morton score at least 3 goals more than Kilmarnock.
  • Morton lose to Berwick Rangers (H) by a margin of 2 goals or fewer AND Kilmarnock take 2 points against Albion Rovers (H).
  • Morton lose to Berwick Rangers (H) by a margin of 3 goals AND Kilmarnock take 2 points against Albion Rovers (H) AND Morton score at least 3 goals more than Kilmarnock.

 

Kilmarnock will win the group if:

  • Kilmarnock defeat Albion Rovers (H) AND Morton lose to Berwick Rangers (H).
  • Kilmarnock defeat Albion Rovers (H) by a margin of 4 or more goals AND Morton take 1 point against Berwick Rangers (H).
  • Kilmarnock defeat Albion Rovers (H) by a margin of 3 goals AND (Goals scored by Morton – Goals scored by Killie) < 2.
  • Kilmarnock take 2 points against Albion Rovers (H) AND Morton lose to Berwick Rangers by a margin of 4 or more goals.
  • Kilmarnock take 2 points against Albion Rovers (H) AND Morton lose to Berwick Rangers by a margin of 3 goals AND (Goals scored by Morton – Goals scored by Killie) < 2.

 

Best Runners-up

The 4 best runners-up across the groups will also progress to the next round.  This is a hugely complex scenario, and it is impossible for me to provide a comprehensive list of exactly what each club needs to qualify, but a brief overview is provided here.

The minimum and maximum points tallies for the runners up in each group are displayed in the plot below.  The left hand side of the bar shows the lowest possible tally, and the right end of the bar marks the maximum possible tally.

Group

At the moment, it is possible that group runners-up could have anything between 6 and 10 points.  My prediction is that clubs will need at least 9 points to have a chance of finishing as the best runner-up, though it is still possible that someone could sneak through with 8.

The list below provides a run-down of which clubs could finish on which points tallies.

10 points

There are only two groups where the runners-up could finish on 10 points (C & D).  Therefore, 10 points will guarantee progression to the next round.

In Group C, Inverness and Dundee United can both end up on 10 points by winning their final fixtures.  If both clubs do so, then whichever one finishes as runner-up will be sure to go through.

In Group D, the prospect of the runner-up having 10 points is slightly less likely.  This would only occur if Raith Rovers defeated Alloa Athletic on penalties, thus leaving both sides on 10.  It is possible that both sides could conspire to ensure this result, but a victory for either team could see them seeded in the next round, which would hugely boost their chances of reaching at least the quarters.

 

9 points

It seems likely that we might see quite a few runners-up on 9 points.  It is still possible for the runners-up in Groups C, D, E, F, G and H to end up with 9 points – so potentially two clubs with 9 points could miss out on progression.

If multiple clubs end up with 9 points, the tie-breakers are (1) goal difference, (2) goals scored, (3) away goals scored, (4) matches won, (5) away matches won (6) drawing of lots.  Building up a big goal difference could therefore be crucial for the sides who are currently likely to finish on 9 points.

In Group C, Inverness or Dundee United could end up on 9 points if they end up winning their weekend matches on penalties.  In both cases, these clubs would have a goal difference of +5  Alternatively Dunfermline Athletic could end up in second place on 9 points if they beat Dundee United, but Inverness win against Arbroath.  Dunfermline’s current goal difference is +2, but that would increase based on their winning margin.

In Group D, Alloa Athletic could end up in 2nd place with 9 points if they lose to Raith Rovers.  Their current goal difference is +7, but that would decrease with their defeat.  Alternatively, Raith Rovers could finish 2nd with 9 points if they lose on penalties to Alloa.  In that scenario, Raith’s goal difference would be +2.

In Group E, Queen of the South may finish in 2nd with 9 points if they beat Stenhousemuir at home and Partick Thistle avoid defeat against Queen’s Park.  The Doonhamers currently have a goal difference of +3, and that would increase with a win.  Partick Thistle could also finish 2nd on 9 points if they lose to Queen’s Park and Queen of the South overhaul them on goal difference.  Thistle’s goal difference is currently +5, but that would decrease with their defeat.

In Group F, Motherwell and Stranraer face off at Stair Park to decide who will finish as runners-up.  Both clubs have 6 points, so if either side wins in 90 minutes then they would take that tally to 9.  Motherwell’s current goal difference is +3, while Stranraer’s is 0.

In Group G, Ayr United, Hamilton Accies and St Mirren could all still finish on 9 points.  This group is likely to be decided on goal difference – Ayr have finished all their matches and have +3, Hamilton are currently on +4 and Saints are on -1.  If the runners-up in this group have 9 points, then their goal difference is guaranteed to be at least +3.

In Group H, Kilmarnock would finish as runners-up with 9 points if they beat Albion Rovers at home and Morton take at least a couple of points at home to Berwick.  Killie’s current goal difference is 0, so they may need to increase that drastically to progress.  A slightly less likely scenario would see Morton finish as runners-up on 9 points if they lose on penalties to Berwick and Killie win heavily.  In that case, Morton would have a goal difference of +3.

The plot below shows the range of possible goal differences for each club who could finish on 9 points.  The red dots mark the current goal differences, and the green bars cover the range of goal differences which they could finish up with if they end up on 9 points.  The dashed lines separate groups (obviously only one club from each section can end up in consideration for the best second placed spot).

GD

 

8 points

Depending on results in other groups, it’s possible that runners-up with 8 points could sneak through.  The runners-up in Groups A and B cannot have any more than 8 points, and there are a number of teams in other groups who could end up with this total.

In Group A, East Fife could finish as runners-up if Peterhead beat Dumbarton and Forfar don’t beat Dundee.  The Fifers have finished all their matches and have a goal difference of +1.  Forfar Athletic could also finish as runners-up on 8 points if they win by a scoreline other than 1-0 and Peterhead win, or if they win 1-0 and Peterhead lose (there are also some other unlikely scenarios).  Forfar currently have a goal difference of 0.  Peterhead could also end up 2nd on 8 if they beat Dumbarton on penalties, but Forfar beat Dundee by a couple of goals.

In Group B, Stirling Albion could finish as runners-up on 8 points if they beat St Johnstone on penalties.  In that case, their goal difference would be +3.  Brechin could finish as runners-up on 8 if they beat Falkirk, and the Saints v Stirling game ends up with any result other than Stirling winning on penalties.  Their goal difference is currently -1, but would improve with a win.  It is theoretically possible for St Johnstone to finish 2nd on 8 points, but that would require a very unlikely turn of events.

In Group C, Dundee United could finish as runners-up on 8 points if they lose to Dunfermline on penalties and Inverness get at least a couple of points against Arbroath.  In that scenario, United would have a goal difference of +5.  Inverness could finish as runners-up on 8 points if they lose on penalties to Arbroath, and they too would have a goal difference of +5.  Dunfermline could finish as runners-up on 8 points if they beat Dundee United on penalties, and Inverness lose to Arbroath.  Their goal difference in that scenario would be +2.

In Group D, Raith Rovers will finish as runners-up on 8 points if they lose to Alloa in their final match.  Raith’s current goal difference is +2, and that would decrease with a defeat.

In Group E, Queen of the South would end up with 8 points if they beat Stenhousemuir on penalties.  In this scenario, their goal difference would be +3.

In Group F, either Motherwell or Stranraer could end up in second place with 8 points if they win on penalties on Saturday.  Motherwell’s goal difference is +3, while Stranraer’s is 0.

In Group G, Hamilton could end up as runners-up with 8 points if they beat Livingston on penalties, and St Mirren fail to beat Edinburgh City.  In that scenario, Hamilton’s goal difference would be +4.  St Mirren could finish as runners-up with 8 points if they beat Edinburgh City on penalties and Hamilton took no more than 1 point against Livingston.  Their goal difference would be -1.

In Group H, Kilmarnock would finish second with 8 points if they beat Albion Rovers on penalties and Morton avoided a heavy defeat against Berwick.  In that scenario, Killie’s goal difference would be 0.  Morton could finish second on 8 points if they lose to Berwick and Killie beat Albion Rovers.  The Ton currently have a goal difference of +3, but that would drop with a defeat.

 

7 points

It is highly unlikely that 7 points will be enough to qualify for the next round.  It is already certain that the runners-up in Groups D and F will pick up at least 8 points, and it seems very likely that runners-up in many other groups will earn at least that many.

In Group A, Peterhead, Forfar and Dundee could all theoretically finish 2nd with 7 points.

In Group B, St Johnstone, Stirling Albion or Brechin could finish second with 7.

In Group C, Inverness, Dundee United or Dunfermline could all pick up 7 points in second place.

In Group E, Queen of the South could finish 2nd on 7 points by losing on penalties on Saturday.

In Group G, Hamilton or St Mirren could finish up second with 7 points.

In Group H, Killie could come in second with 7 points if they lose on penalties to Albion Rovers.

 

6 points

The runners-up in Groups A, B, E, G and H could still all finish on 6 points, so it is theoretically possible that one of these sides could sneak through.  This would require all of the following results to occur:

  • Dumbarton beat Peterhead (H)
  • Dundee defeat Forfar (A) on penalties
  • St Johnstone beat Stirling Albion (H)
  • Falkirk beat Brechin (H) either in 90 minutes, or on penalties
  • Stenhousemuir beat Queen of the South (A)
  • Livingston beat Hamilton (A)
  • Edinburgh City beat St Mirren (A)
  • Albion Rovers beat Kilmarnock (A)

 

In this scenario, one of Dundee, Falkirk, Livingston or Albion Rovers could sneak through on 6 points.

 

Summary

The plot below shows the possible range of points for each possible 2nd place finisher.  The dashed blue lines separate out the groups, and the red bars go from the minimum to maximum point tallies with which the club could conceivably finish second.

Club.jpeg

 

 

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About SPLstats
Providing statistics and trivia about Scottish football. Main focus is the SPL, but all Scottish football will be covered. Not affiliated to the SPL.

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