Match preview: Dunfermline Athletic v Falkirk

The festive festivities roll on to Boxing Day for a feast of footballing action in Fife.

While all the other Championship teams could not wait past Saturday, these rivals have managed to contain themselves better than a hyperactive child on Christmas Eve.

However, akin to the excitable kid being told they can open their presents from Santa; when that first whistle blows supporters and players will also be unable to control their emotions.

In this real life pantomime, Peter Houston plays the role of the Grinch with his reluctance to take anything less than a share of the spoils. To use the same analogy that would put Allan Johnston in the guise of Cindy Lou Who whose generous and naive nature sees them in peril more often than you would like.

Whether Dunfermline can produce the joyful football to better the reductive nature of Falkirk remains to be seen. Although, whatever the outcome it will be an interesting watch. Purely just to see how far the Pars have come since their last meeting, and whether or not Falkirk are in limbo of being not good enough to challenge for the title, but too good to drop out of the Premiership playoffs.

Keys to the game

The Bairns are an unforgiven outfit on the road. Seven goals have been produced in eight games away from home and only one of the fixtures has seen over 2.5 goals (league average is 44%). Therefore netting first is imperative in taking at least a point out of the tie. Especially for Athletic when taking into account that Falkirk has failed to score twice in the Championship (league best).

John Baird, Lee Miller, and Myles Hippolyte have scored 15 times and are clinical when in front of goal, especially Miller who is their focal point and leads all Bairns scorers with six. Lee Ashcroft will be tasked to deal with his former teammate in the aerial duels while Callum Fordyce will have to be alert to Baird drifting in from the right wing to come centrally to pick up any scraps that fall around the box.

If Dunfermline goes with two in midfield then they will be overrun by Craig Sibbald and James Craigen pressurising them before they can pick out a pass with Mark Kerr being that safety value in front of the back four. Although, if Andy Geggan and Nat Wedderburn were to sit with that pair and allow John Herron to be level with the former Par, it may stop Falkirk being as relentless in pursuit of winning the ball back.

Joe Cardle will be important to try and stop Luke Leahy marauding from his left back position while Paul McMullen needs to use his pace to get the better of Aaron Muirhead and leave him in the dust and he travels to the byline.

Nicky Clark is the Pars consistent goal threat, and him staying centrally, searching for pockets of space in the box may just be enough for him to latch on to half an opportunity and knock it past Danny Rodgers. However, these chances will be fleeting, and he may have to bide his time for them to come.

Kickoff time, ticket prices and where to watch

Monday, 15:00. East End Park

South stand: Adults £19, Concessions £13, U12s £7.
All other stands: Adults £17, Concessions £11, U12s £5.

Confirmed line ups

Team News

Dunfermline Athletic:

Ben Richards-Everton (injured)
Kallum Higginbotham (suspended)

Falkirk:

Nathan Austin (injured)

Referee

Euan Anderson.

Ayr United 0-2 Raith Rovers (two yellow)
Raith Rovers 0-2 Falkirk (four yellow)
Dundee United 1-0 Falkirk (two yellow)

What Dunfermline Athletic are saying

“Over the last seven or eight games we have shown more consistency but we need to turn more of them into wins. It is important that we are competitive but we have also got to show our quality and score goals. We can improve, we just have to make sure that we keep on improving. We are going in the right direction just now.” (Allan Johnston, manager)

What Falkirk are saying

“I’m glad we are playing a derby match against Dunfermline because that should spring us to life in some ways. I never criticised the players last Saturday though because they passed the ball well, but they did give soft goals away.” (Peter Houston, manager)

Former Dunfermline Athletic players

Mark Kerr.

Former Falkirk players

Farid El Alagui and Kallum Higginbotham.

Common fixtures

Dunfermline Athletic:

1-1 v Ayr United
0-0 v Ayr United (A)
1-3 v Dundee United
1-0 v Dundee United (A)

4-3 v Dumbarton
2-2 v Dumbarton (A)
2-1 v Greenock Morton
2-1 v Greenock Morton (A)
1-3 v Hibernian
2-1 Hibernian (A)
0-0 v Raith Rovers
2-0 v Raith Rovers (A)
0-1 v Queen of the South

2-2 v Queen of the South (A)
4-3 v St Mirren
0-1 v St Mirren (A)

Points: 17

Falkirk:

2-0 v Ayr United
0-1 v Ayr United (A)
3-1 v Dundee United
1-0 v Dundee United (A)

1-0 v Dumbarton
2-1 v Dumbarton (A)
1-1 v Greenock Morton
1-1 v Greenock Morton (A)
1-2 Hibernian
1-1 v Hibernian (A)
2-4 v Raith Rovers
0-2 v Raith Rovers (A)

2-2 v Queen of the South
2-0 v Queen of the South (A)
3-1 v St Mirren
1-1 v St Mirren (A)

Points: 23

Last six meetings

Championship:

15 Oct 2016: Falkirk 2-1 Dunfermline Athletic

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Challenge Cup:

09 Aug 2014: Dunfermline Athletic 1-2 Falkirk

Division One:

27 Mar 2013: Dunfermline Athletic 0-2 Falkirk
16 Feb 2013: Falkirk 1-0 Dunfermline Athletic
26 Dec 2012: Dunfermline Athletic 0-2 Falkirk
06 Oct 2012: Falkirk 1-0 Dunfermline Athletic

Last Dunfermline win: 07 May 2011 (3-0).

Table

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Prediction

Dunfermline Athletic 1-1 Falkirk

Odds

Dunfermline Athletic 39/20 Draw 5/2 Falkirk 29/20

Best bet

Both teams to score @ 3/4.


You can follow @MichaelWood_SJ on Twitter.

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