match preview: Dunfermline Athletic v Brechin City

Dunfermline Athletic can clinch the League One title at home with a win over Brechin City providing that Peterhead succumbs to defeat against Cowdenbeath.

The Pars can see the end of their three-year stint in the third tier of Scottish football coming, it is just a case of when that is cemented. As it stands, six points are needed to guarantee passage into the Championship. Although, the Fifers are looking for the Blue Toon to slip up to assure promotion as soon as possible.

However, Darren Dods’ side will not be there to make up the numbers on Saturday. The rookie manager has finally turned the tide that had seen them stranded bottom of the table until the last four games, in which City took 12 points, keeping three clean sheets in the process. Comparing that to their first 26 matches, they only kept their opponents scoreless four times when they took 18 points.

Allan Johnston is not happy with just winning the title though he wants more:

“The last thing we should do, even if we do get over the line and we win the league, is think that is us finished and done our job this year. We have to make sure that we keep winning, keep the habits and standards that we have set already.”

The change to their form may be difficult to understand and yes it is peculiar to see a languishing side rise at this late stage of the campaign. Yet, the player/manager has recruited well in the loan market over the last few months. An example is Lewis Spence. The 20-year-old central midfielder warmed the bench at Dunfermline and while his ability was clear for all to see, it was the number of quality players in his position that was too much to overcome. Since his arrival he had scored twice, both v Airdrieonians and won the club’s player of the month award in February. Thankfully, for the Pars, he will be watching from the stands as he is not eligible to compete against his parent club.

Another gem that the former Forfar centre-back brought in was Diamonds’ top scorer Liam Watt. The midfielder who can ply his trade anywhere across the middle of the park has found himself out on the left in Angus. In his brief time there though he has produced three goals and a couple of assists. Certainly, a dangerman, and somebody Craig Reid and Brad McKay will have to watch carefully.

Young Jamie Robson, who plays left-back, and did so in the League Cup earlier on in the season at Tannadice against Athletic may start at full-back having just come into the squad earlier in the week.

Dunfermline’s job becomes harder with the absence of Joe Cardle, who received his sixth league booking for simulation two weeks ago. “Super Joe” has accumulated double figures in both assists and goals. He is also the only man in a black and white kit to boast not one but a couple of hat-tricks this season. Ryan Wallace, has started the last two games up front. Himself and David Hopkirk are the obvious choices to fill the Blackpool born winger’s black boots.

In recent weeks, Brechin has been playing a flat 4-4-2, identical to that of the East End Park outfit. Against better sides they have come a cropper with that formation. A diamond in the middle of the park may improve matters with a Gary Fusco or their captain Craig Molloy protecting the back two. Although a five-man midfield is likely the way to go to take at least a point. Robert Thomson will have a hell of a job if he is to play the lone target men, but he is more than capable of bringing others into play and scoring a goal himself. the former Par has the most assists and netted the most times for his side.

Johnston will not change his tact and play his usual 4-4-2 and try to score early on to appease the home crowd. The advantage of doing so will mean that City will have to come out and as a result, leave themselves vulnerable to the counter-attack.

Predicted XIs:
Murdoch;
Reid, McKay, Richards-Everton, Talbot;
Paton, Geggan (C), Falkingham, Wallace;
Hopkirk, El Bakhtaoui.

G.Smith;
Fusco, Dods, McLean, Robson;
Molly (C), Dale;
Smith, Watt, Dyer;
Thomson.


You can follow @MichaelWood_SJ on Twitter.

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