Match preview: Dunfermline Athletic v Hibernian

This weekend signifies the start of the second quarter of the Championship season as Dunfermline Athletic and Hibernian face off at East End Park.

In the last meeting between the sides, the Pars came out the better of the exchange, even if they were defeated. A couple of defensive errors cost the Fifers dearly. Yet, a well taken Gavin Reilly goal gave Allan Johnston and the fans belief that they were on the right tracks just two games into the league campaign.

Until recently Dunfermline had gone one way – down – and Neil Lennon’s squad went from strength to strength excluding the peculiar blip versus Ayr United. Then in the last match days, it flipped with Athletic a win over St Mirren, and a clean sheet at Somerset Park. For the side from the capital, they drew against Queen of the South and Dundee United in two of their last few matches as they lost top spot. However, after Saturday it returned to type with the Pars defeat to Falkirk and Hibs returning to the top with a draw in Kirkcaldy.

Keys to the game

The Cabbage and Ribs defence on the road is the best in the league with four clean sheets in five games, and are one of the higher scores with five goals. On the other hand, Dunfermline have the most porous home defence with 10 goals conceded in four outings. Yet, they do score at a fair clip with nine goals. Although, almost all the goals came in two 4-3 wins over the bottom two, Dumbarton and St Mirren.

Two contrasting styles: one swashbuckling, one conservative. However, in both instances whether it be high or low scoring, you would favour Hibernian to take all three points back across the Forth Road Bridge to the capital.

While tinkering with the formation (whether it be 4-1-3-2, 4-2-3-1, 4- 3-1-2, and both variations of the 4-4-2 ) he is pretty settled with his personal at the back after experimenting in cup competition. His own signing Ofir Marciano in goals, with (captain) David Gray, Darren McGregor, Paul Hanlon, and Lewis Stevenson making up the four man defence.

Allan Johnston is sold on his formation (4-4-2), but is trying to fit the players into it. The defence is not settled, Andy Geggan has yet to find a dependable partner beside him, and a partnership up top has not been forged.

Hibernian will dominate for large spells, which is beneficial for Dunfermline who are set up to hit on the counter. Although, the East End Park outfit will have to have the discipline to survive the constant onslaught and still be in the game with half an hour to go to frustrate Neil Lennon on the sidelines, in an effort to take at least a point from the game.

Kickoff time, ticket prices and where to watch

Saturday, 15:00pm, East End Park.
South stand: Adults £19, Concessions £13, U12s £7.
All other stands: Adults £17, Concessions £11, U12s £5.

Confirmed line-ups

Referee

Alan Muir.

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

Loans

AM: John Herron – Blackpool
RW: Paul McMullan – Celtic
CF: Gavin Reilly – Heart of Midlothian

Hibernian signings

GK: Ross Laidlaw – Raith Rovers
RB: Neal Eardley – Birmingham City
CF: Brian Graham – Ross County
CF: Grant Holt – Rochdale

Loans

GK: Ofir Marciano – FC Ashdod
AM: Andrew Shinnie – Birmingham City

Common fixtures

Dunfermline Athletic:

2-1 v Falkirk (A)
4-3 v St Mirren
1-3 v Dundee United
0-1 v Queen of the South
0-2 v Raith Rovers (A)

Hibernian:

0-0 v Raith Rovers (A)
2-1 v St Mirren
1-1 v Dundee United
1-3 v Queen of the South
1-2 v Falkrik (A)

Table

Last five meetings

Championship

13/08/16: Hibernian 2-1 Dunfermline Athletic

Premier League

07/05/12: Hibernian 4-0 Dunfermline Athletic
14/01/12: Dunfermline Athletic 2-3 Hibernian
05/11/11: Hibernian 0-1 Dunfermline Athletic
17/09/11: Dunfermline Athletic 2-2 Hibernian

Last Dunfermline home win was on the 07/04/07 (1-0).

Prediction

Dunfermline Athletic 1-2 Hibernian

Odds

Dunfermline Athletic 7/2 Draw 13/5 Hibernian 4/5

Best bet

Hibernian to win and over 2.5 goals @13/8


You can follow @MichaelWood_SJ on Twitter.

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