Ahead of the semi-final clash on Saturday, our writers debate which striker they would rather have in their side, Hibernian’s Jason Cummings or Billy Mckay of Dundee United.
Moira Gordon (@moira_gordon)
If both these guys were the finished article then it may have been a different tussle but neither are. The fact that one is already at an age where he should be peaking and the other is still only 20 gives Jason Cummings the edge, for me.
We all know that in Scottish football potential is not always fulfilled but the fact that the Hibs youngster is already delivering, with a better scoring rate than McKay had even while at Inverness when he was being touted for Player of the Year awards etc, is a reason to back the Scotland u-21 player.
A rough diamond, there is no doubting that he has the ability to sparkle. There are spectacular goals in his arsenal and a gallusness in his approach which enables him to produce something from nothing. Sometimes he needs to keep it simpler, though, and get his head up, while being more aware of his team-mates and his positioning but he is working on that. One argument against him is the fact he is banging goals in a level below McKay but, when given the chance, he has produced the goods against top flight teams in cup competitions.
As a striker self-belief is vital to come through lean spells or bounce back from missed opportunities and he has that in spades, but for all the daft laddie stuff, he is already a very decent striker with a desire to get better and he has plenty time in front of him to do it, which is why, for me, he is a better bet than McKay.
Verdict: Jason Cummings
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Aidan Smith (@aidansmith07)
Mckay wins this contest - for now anyway. He’s more experienced, Cummings may eventually catch him and overtake him, but at the moment the Dundee United man is a proven goalscorer in the top flight and Cummings can’t claim that, at least not yet.
Mckay is happy with the scruffiest of goals, the empty-net tap-ins, while Cummings craves the spectacular. He’ll try for them when the 25-yarder is not really possible; in that way there’s more discipline about Mckay’s game. Mckay nets occasionally from distance - his one and only from that disappointing spell at Wigan Athletic, in a friendly at Altringham, was a scorcher - but he really lives in the box, prowling on shoulders, pouncing at just the right moment.
Mckay is trying to get back to where he was at Inverness Caley-Thistle when he was one of the five best strikers in the division, maybe top three. That’s harder to do in a team who’re desperately struggling but he’s still managing to bang them in.
Cummings, because he has a favourite kind of goal and is always striving for it, reveals himself to be one-footed (his left). Maybe Mckay is one-footed, too, but he disguises it better. Cummings loves the glamour of being a goalscorer; Mckay loves the job.
Verdict: Billy Mckay
Alan Pattullo (@alan_pattullo)
One has been doing it (most of the time) for a team struggling in the Premiership, the other has been doing it (most of the time) for a team once flying high in the Championship but now stuttering.
Mckay is an opportunist player, at his best both when feeding off scraps and when being played in by astute balls from midfield. Sadly for him, he has been lucky to get even scraps to feed off with United this season. An enduring image of Mckay in a tangerine shirt is standing, mid-complaint, with arms outstretched after another opportunity to release him has been wasted.
Give him the chances, and Mckay will score, and even if starved of them, he will notch a decent number of goals – nine for a poor United team this season is testament to that.
But Cummings is something else in that he can create goals from nothing, inside or outside the box. He is a brilliant penalty box player of course – goals from close in against Rangers and Hearts show that. But he is also adept at shooting from outside the box, curlers into the top corners a speciality.
His header against Hearts in the Scottish Cup underlined other strengths too – an awareness of where Neil Alexander was, and an ability to cushion a header that looped over the keeper. Of course, still young, Cummings will go through periods when it looks as if the magic has gone.
But he picked himself up from a recent bad run with two goals against Falkirk in midweek, including a confidently struck penalty. He can look petulant, uninterested even. On occasion he is too greedy. But given the choice of Cummings or Mckay, it is the former every time. Mckay simply does not have the Hibs’s striker’s presence and can drift out of games too easily. And you get the impression there’s more, much more, to come from Cummings.
Verdict: Jason Cummings
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