Both managers will hope to extend ringing in the bells this new year with a win over their local rivals with all eyes on them this Monday.
The gap between the sides is four league positions and seven points.
A win for the visitors would make the whole league look extremely competitive.
And that outcome is not unrealistic because the Rovers are without a win since October 29 but to give them their due they have only lost once in that period – inexplicably – to St Mirren.
In a similar vain the Pars have proven difficult to beat in the last few months. Although, they have failed to turn more stalemates into victories.
A win would be the ideal start to the second half of the season in an effort to meet their objective of the Premiership playoffs.
Keys to the game
Games with the Kirkcaldy outfit tend to yield the least amount of goals in the Championship which is down to their efficiency on defence and their inefficiency on offence. In a mirrored image of their rivals, Dunfermline matches have the most goals because of their strength up top and the weakness at conceding avoidable goals (see the first meeting of the season between the pair).
The preferred Rovers defence from left to right reads: Kevin McHattie, Jean-Yves M’Voto, Kyle Benedictus and Jason Thomson. The towering French centre half has been a revelation since joining in the summer from Zawisza (Poland) and forged a fantastic partnership with the vice-captain while protecting the imperious Kevin Cuthbert has seen them contribute heavily to Raith’s seven clean sheets (third most in the Championship). Yet, the former Dundee centre-half will not be available due to suspension with the returning Craig Barr likely to make his first start of the season.
Farid El Alagui should start; as he can deal with the combative nature of his compatriot M’Voto in what will be an intriguing individual contest while Kallum Higginbotham should be able to exploit the space that McHattie vacates when he decides to bomb forward in support (think Ryan Williamson).
Mark Stewart is their top goal scorer after netting four times (tied for 14th in the Championship) in six starts but Declan McManus starts without fail, and his lack of a consistent threat has the Rovers languishing with the most games without scoring (7) in the league.
The attacking threat is coming from the wide midfielders in the form of Bobby Barr and Chris Johnston. The ever dependable Jason Talbot and Andy Geggan will have to be at their defensive best to not allow them to drift inside and charge into the box where they can cause real havoc.
Kickoff time, ticket prices and where to watch
Monday, 15:00. Stark’s Park
Confirmed line ups
Kyle Benedictus (suspended)
Ben Richards-Everton and Lewis Spence (injured)
Callum Morris (Holiday)
St. Mirren 0-2 Hibernian (two yellows)
Falkirk 1-0 Dumbarton (one yellow)
Ayr United 0-0 Dunfermline Athletic
Hibernian 2-0 St. Mirren (five yellows, one penalty)
Dundee United 1-0 Dunfermline Athletic (six yellows, one red)
Dumbarton 0-2 Greenock Morton (four yellows)
What Raith Rovers are saying
“We just cannot get over that line to get the three points at the moment. The last two games have both been good performances, but for different reasons. Against Dundee United we had a lot of the ball and played well. Against Hibs we never had the ball as much but we set up our shape to hit them on the break – and at times we did.” (Iain Davidson, defender)
What Dunfermline Athletic are saying
“I watched [Rovers] against Hibs on Saturday. They are really hard to beat, really well organised but I am sure that we will take another massive crowd there. When you look at the crowd today, it is not Championship it is more like two Premier League clubs. Hopefully we can get the same sort of crowd against Raith.” (Allan Johnston, manager)
Former Dunfermline Athletic players
Iain Davidson (trial), Jason Thompson (loan) and Kevin McHattie (youth)
Form since last meeting
1-1 v Hibernian (A)
0-0 v Dundee United
1-0 v St Mirren (A)
1-1 v Ayr United
0-0 v Dumbarton (A)
1-1 v Falkirk
2-2 v Queen of the South (A)
2-1 v Greenock Morton
1-1 v Ayr United
3-5 v Buckie Thistle (A – Scottish Cup)
0-1 v St Mirren (A)
0-1 v Dundee United (Challenge Cup)
1-0 v Dundee United (A)
Last four meetings
05/11/2016: Dunfermline Athletic 0-0 Raith Rovers
20/08/2016: Raith Rovers 2-0 Dunfermline Athletic
05/08/2014: Dunfermline Athletic 1-0 Raith Rovers
20/08/2013: Dunfermline Athletic 0-2 Raith Rovers
Last away Dunfermline win 17/11/2012.
Raith Rovers 1-1 Dunfermline Athletic
Raith Rovers 107/100 Draw 68/25 Dunfermline Athletic 13/5
Both teams to score @ 3/4
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