THE PARS’ stuttering form has seen them drop out of the play-off places and a positive result at Livingston on Saturday is a matter of urgency.

Livi have won three matches on the bounce but just as the Pars did over the Christmas period, they have been accumulated against the bottom three sides. The bookies appear to have taken all this information into account; Livingston are 5/4 (Hills), a draw 12/5 and Dunfermline also 12/5. There is no value to be squeezed out of those prices but the Pars are fancied to nick a point.

Prediction: Livingston 1 Dunfermline 1.

Sixteen teams that have proved more successful than either Livi or the Pars in the Scottish Cup this season take part in the fifth round over the weekend. Three matches are televised, starting with Celtic’s home tie against Partick Thistle on Saturday (BBC Scotland, 12.15pm). The Bhoys are 1/5, a draw 13/2 (Betvictor/Bet365) and the Jags 16/1 (Bet365). As usual with these lop-sided prices, there are handicap options to level the playing field: in this instance Celtic -2 and Partick +2 are both at 7/5 with Boylesports and Betfred respectively and the tie 10/3 (Bet365).

League 1 promotion candidates Ayr United are likely to be concentrating on that task after Sunday but they have a money-spinning home game with Rangers as compensation (Sky Sports football, 2.30pm). The Gers are 3/10 (Stan James), a draw 5/1 and the Honest Men 19/2 (Betvictor). Aberdeen versus Dundee United is the later game (Sky Sports football, 4.30pm) and the layers are expecting another comfortable success for the favourites. The Dons are 2/5, the Terrors 8/1 (Bet365) and it is 19/5 that a stalemate forces a replay.

Scotland’s Six Nations campaign got off to a dreadful start with last week’s humbling by Wales but the bookies fancy them to bounce back against France on Sunday (BBC1, 3pm). The Scots are 8/15 (Betway), the French 2/1 and a draw 25/1. Scotland -5 at even money (Paddy Power) or France +6 at 10/11 (Bet365) are the best handicap options.

Ireland host Italy in the opening fixture (ITV, 2.45pm) and with the Irish 1/66 to claim the spoils, the handicap market is the only feasible alternative for a bet on the match result. There is quite a difference: Ireland are -31 at 10/11 (Skybet) and the Italians +35 at 10/11 (Boylesports).

The two most impressive teams from the first round of matches meet at Twickenham (ITV, 4.45pm). England are 1/4 (Betway), Wales 9/2 (Stan James) and a draw 33/1. Paddy Power and Betway chalk up England -11 at even money while Stan James make Wales +13 at 10/11.