This Saturday at East End Park, Dunfermline Athletic and Queen’s Park will face-off in the fourth round of the Irn-Bru Cup in what is a welcome break from the poor league form of the two sides.
The Spiders got off to a good start to life in League One with seven points for the opening four games. Yet, after their 2-0 win over Greenock Morton at Hampden Park in the last round of the tournament, they went on to lose their previous four ties. They are now sitting second from bottom two points ahead of 10th placed Peterhead.
It is a similar story for the Pars who won their opening game of the season then went five on the spin without picking up a point. The rot stopped with a 4-3 victory at home over St. Mirren then a point and a clean sheet down at Somerset Park last weekend and also like their upcoming opponents could be bottom if results go against them when they return to Championship action on the 15th. Allan Johnston’s side has enjoyed playing part-time teams in the cup and already have a 100% (3 from 3) against them this season.
The speculation surrounding Gus MacPherson’s future has not helped the Mount Florida outfit. The bookies believed that the former Dunfermline defender was in pole position for the Buddies job. However, the Paisley side plumped for Alloa boss Jack Ross, and puts that the supposition around MacPherson’s tenure to bed.
Keys to the game
Ayr United and Queen’s Park are alike on the field (both play a 4-4-1-1 that can blend into 4-5-1). This is because of their managers – Ian McCall and MacPherson – who are similar characters in the dugout and set up their sides to be difficult to beat.
For example, only the top four in the third tier have better defensive records than the Glorious Hoops. However, they have only netted five times and just twice in their last six league outings.
Johnston is the complete opposite to a defence first manager. The Pars have one clean sheet in the Championship but are by far the top scorers in the bottom half of the table. They have beat League One and League Two sides by scorelines of 3-0, 0-3 and 1-5. Showing that brute force in attack can barrel through what most part-time sides can throw in Dunfermline’s way.
The real battle in this game is going to be in the area that is 18 to 35 yards outside of Willie Muir’s goals. How much can the deployment of two banks of four hold back the tide of at least six black and white jerseys that will be looking to find the weaknesses in the perimeter and make this as comfortable a win as possible.
What the Pars will have to watch out for is being sucker punched on the break. With the flow of bodies looking to bombard Muir’s net, it will be up to the centre backs and the holding midfielder that will be camped out to deal with Queen’s most advanced pairing from getting into space when their side look to break from the flanks.
Dunfermline Athletic signings
RB: Euan Spark – Dundee United
RCB: Lee Ashcroft – Kilmarnock
LDM: Nat Wedderburn – Inverness Caledonian Thistle
SS: Kallum Higginbotham – Kilmarnock
CF: Nicky Clark – Bury
CF: Farid El Alagui – Hibernian
AM: John Herron – Blackpool
RW: Paul McMullan – Celtic
CF: Gavin Reilly – Heart of Midlothian
Queen’s Park signings
GK: Marc Waters – Partick Thistle
GK: Willie Muir – East Fife
RB: Ross Millen – Clyde
CB: Adam Cummins – Bangor City
CB: Mark Williams – Alloa Athletic
LM: Josh Watt – Cumnock
CM: Darren Miller – Kilbirnie
AM: Anton Brady – East Kilbride
CF: Aiden Malone – Cumnock
LW: Dario Zanatta – Hearts
Kickoff time, ticket prices and where to watch
Saturday, 15:00pm, East End Park.
All stands: Adults £10, Concessions £5.
Key Dunfermline Athletic player
Two goals and two assists is the return for the Hearts loanee in 900+ minutes of football at Dunfermline Athletic. More was expected for the striker who netted 25 times in 66 league appearances in his last couple of seasons at Queen of the South. While he does all the hard work you like to see from a player, it is his final product that has been lacking and that seems to come down to confidence. If he can start scoring for a small run of games on the bounce you would believe that it would be enough for him to become a key member of the club going forward.
Key Queen’s Park player
The defender may only be 23, but he has already competed in the top tier of Scotland and Wales as well as coming through Everton youth and under 18s before moving to Motherwell half a decade ago. Now he finds himself in League One with an amateur club in the national stadium three years after finishing back-to-back seasons with minutes played in the Well’s Europa League qualification campaign. It has not been the path many will take in life. Now, his task is going to have to organise the defence around him in the hope of pulling off what would be the biggest shock in the tournament.
Former Dunfermline Athletic players
What Dunfermline Athletic are saying
“We are favourites but it is hard against teams like Queens Park who do not lose a lot of goals. Sometimes they play five at the back and make it really difficult to break them down and they try to hit on the counterattack. It is going to be tough, we are going to have to be patient and we are going to have to move the ball quick. We also have to defend well too, especially at setpieces.” (Allan Johnston, manager)
What Queen’s Park are saying
On Tony Quinn’s retirement: “Tony is the epitome of what Queen’s Park is about. He is a big character about the club and whilst we will miss him on the pitch he will be a great addition to the coaching side.” (Gus MacPherson, manager)
Last four meetings
1999/2000 – League Cup:
Dunfermline Atheltic 4 – 0 Queen’s Park
1985/1986 – Division Two:
Dunfermline Atheltic 0 – 0 Queen’s Park
Queen’s Park 3 – 1 Dunfermline Athletic
Dunfermline Atheltic 3 – 2 Queen’s Park
1-5 v Brechin (A)
0-0 v Brechin (A)
Dunfermline Athletic 4/9 Draw 50/13 Queen’s Park 73/10
Dunfermline Athletic 3-0 Queen’s Park
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