Dunfermline Athletic and Arbroath face off on matchday two of the Betfred Cup at East End Park this evening.
The opener for the Pars is the reverse of the fixture in the Challenge Cup, which kickstarted the 2015/16 campaign with a 4-1 win at Gayfield Park. While the Fifers have only made minor changes on and off the pitch in the last year, there has been a complete overhaul for the Red Lichties. Amongst the 10 signings the Smokies have made, three of them (Gavin Malin, Michael Dunlop, and Omar Kader) have joined Dick Campbell from his former club Forfar Athletic. Other new recruits such as Bryan Prunty, Colin Hamilton, Martin Scott, Robbie Mutch, Ryan McCord and Steven Doris will provide a solid spine and for the majority of those names have proved capable players in the middling tiers of the game in this country.
Arbroath will be set-up exactly like you expect, with a simple 4-4-2 that is reductive, but effective when they look to play the ball wide or long into the channels for the forwards to get on the end of when countering. This approach will likely see the man with the bunnet threaten the right end of the League Two table this season. Now, this style will be hard for Dunfermline to break down as they always struggled against very organised defences in the last campaign. However, there should be enough firepower to see them past the Angus-based outfit, that will be unchanged from the match against the Tangerines.
Athletic will likely be without David Hopkirk or Michael Paton on the right of the midfield. Allan Johnston will have to ponder whether he keeps Rhys McCabe (a central midfielder) as someone who tucks in and makes it three in the middle of the pitch. Alternatively, he could plump for recent Celtic loanee signing Paul McMullan, who in tandem with Ryan Williamson can cause bedlam down the right flank with their ability to breeze past an opponent, who in this instance would be Gary Phillips. David Hutton will be the number one for the foreseeable future as Sean Murdoch is unavailable due to a wrist injury. Recent acquisition Nat Wedderburn will likely take up the role in the centre of the park vacated by the departed Josh Falkingham. The other change from last season’s starting 11 will see Gavin Reilly partner Michael Moffat in the attack. Kallum Higginbotham, who just signed a day prior to the match will only make the bench.
Keys to the game
The Pars can improve on a few aspects where Dundee United fell flat on Friday night in their penalty win at Gayfield, such as the quality of cross into the box. It was easy for the centre-halves to deal with the balls flighted into their zone. Varying the type of delivery across the goal may provide some success. Simon Murray also missed numerous chances and it was that lack of a cutting edge that failed to see Ray McKinnon win his first game in charge. Gavin Reilly is a better finisher than Murray and if he gets a couple of opportunities I have the belief that he will at least finish one of them. Williamson is going to have to help out his midfielder partner on the right and overlap him then look to cut the ball back across into the middle from the byline to cause problems in that Smokies’ box.
For Dick Campbell to take the three points back up to Angus, he is going to have to stay true to what he does best, and that is playing compact, look to frustrate, keep the game scoreless for as long as possible and look to hit on the break when the opportunity arises. Fortunately for the former Dunfermline manager, this is a set-up that the East End Park outfit detest playing.
Kickoff time and ticket prices
Tuesday, 19:45pm, East End Park.
All stands: Adults £12, Concessions £6.
Key Dunfermline player
Joe Cardle: The most creative and talented footballer on the pitch will need all his experience and nous to help open up that Arbroath back line. If he were absent or having a below par performance, the Fifers could struggle and what looks like a comprehensive win on paper may peter out and have to be settled on penalties.
Key Arbroath player
Robbie Mutch: The Aberdeen loanee was calmness personified between the sticks as he faced a barrage of Dundee United shots on Friday, and will looking every bit of a 17-year-old, he seems to have a matured of a professional twice his age. It will more than likely he will be the busiest of the two keepers, and he will need to be at his best again.
What Dunfermline are saying
“Dick Campbell will have them well organised and will make it difficult for us. We will be trying to win the game. The boys have done really well in pre-season games and we need to take that momentum into that game.” (David Hutton, Goalkeeper)
Last five meetings
25/07/2015: Arbroath 1-4 Dunfermline
26/04/2014: Arbroath 1-2 Dunfermline
25/02/2014: Dunfermline 3-0 Arbroath
21/12/2013: Arbroath 0-3 Dunfermline
17/08/2013: Dunfermline 2-3 Arbroath
Dunfermline 2/5 Draw 17/5 Arbroath 11/2
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