East End Park will host this first v third clash at three o’clock this afternoon.
The tie will likely decide whether it will be a two or a three horse race for the third tier title.
These sides last met on December 12, where they each had 34 points after matchday 17. Although Ayr United had played a game less but held an inferior goal difference.
10-man Dunfermline came out on top through David Hopkirk’s winner. As they edged out the dishonest men, two-one. This was after Peter Murphy performance that Ric Flair would have been proud off. Joe Cardle’s actions were ill-advised as he gave his opponent the chance to do so and that led to Andrew Dallas sending the winger off. However, the verdict of violent conduct was later overturned.
It was not the only tense moment that these teams encountered when they have clashed this season.
On September 12, both teams were flying high in the developing stages of the campaign. The Fifers had won their four of the first five. While the South Ayrshire outfit was unbeaten. Having picked up 10 points since the shock defeat on opening day.
Ian McCall can be thankful that his players executed his gameplan. The two goals came from their only meaningful journeys to the box and one was due to a well-timed counter. This and a backs to the wall performance in the second half. Their goalkeeper, Greg Fleming went beyond the call of duty. While the defence blocked any shot that was heading goalward.
The match was ugly from both sides. The physicality bordered on the wrong side of the laws at points and was not stamped out by the use of cautions. This led to the leg break that club captain, Callum Fordyce occurred as a result of a Jordan Moore challenge. That looked dangerous if not, at least, reckless. Neither Kevin Graham or his assistant thought it was a foul and play continued. All while the centre-half was in distressing pain.
The tamest of the three encounters so far was the Scottish Cup tie At Somerset Park. Which the one-nil defeat along with injury burst the Ayr bubble. Allan Johnston oversaw his side win in non-football conditions that dreadful afternoon.
But, yet today’s game sees Dunfermline now 10 points clear of their rivals. Anything other than an Ayr win will see them gone from the title race. A comfortable playoff place seems their destiny at present.
The absence of Ross Docherty in central midfield is a huge loss for the Honest Men. He is a player that is capable of playing in the Championship. For the Pars, Allan Johnston has seen Lewis Martin return to training and feature for the Under 20s. Although, he would only sit on the bench as a precaution if at all. Otherwise, it is only Fordyce that is unavailable for selection.
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