The Pars win on Bank Holiday Monday lifted themselves up to sixth in the table and confined the Honest Men to ninth; anything other than a home victory will see them stay there.
South Ayrshire’s finest have tasted victory once in 10 as they have sunk to unwanted depths while Athletic are without defeat in six.
These games tend to be tetchy affairs with little to separate them on any given day; on Saturday expect no different.
Kallum Higginbotham will want to do right the wrong of missing two penalties late on – when either of them would have won the game – in the last matchup against the sides.
Three points for the away team may be terminal for Ian McCall’s squad as St Mirren seem to be catching up on the lower half of the division; while it may start to give Allan Johnston ideas of achieving his dream of fourth place.
Keys to the game
Half of Ayr United’s eight home goals came against fellow part-timers Dumbarton in a draw on Christmas Eve. This exacerbated by the fact that they have failed to score in five of their nine matches at Somerset Park explains – in part – why the Honest Men are struggling near the bottom of the table.
The reason they struggle with finding the net is their poor centre-forwards. Their roster includes Craig Moore (on loan from Motherwell) and Kevin Nisbett (on loan from Partick Thistle). Only Nisbett has contributed to the squad in a positive aspect with two goals and an assist; a dismal return. Fortunately, they have a capable penalty taker in Alan Forrest who has a 100% conversion rate this season (three from three).
The South Ayrshire outfit have scored once – from the spot – in 180 minutes versus the Pars this season and in general have been bettered during Allan Johnston’s tenure. With that, Athletic should be using some of the arrogance that seen them lift the League One title. The best way to do this is to establish the tempo from the kickoff; figuring out ways to get the wingers to run at the full-backs.
While there is still lax defending in the Fifers, the rationale behind the lack of wins as of late is through their failure to create real clear cut chances and spurring the ones that they manufacture.
Kickoff time, ticket prices and where to watch
15:00, Saturday @ Somerset Park
OAP’s and students: £10
Confirmed line ups
Craig McGuffie and Craig Moore (injured)
Ross Docherty (suspended)
Ben Richards-Everton and David Hopkirk (injured)
Callum Morris (Holiday)
Dundee United 2-2 Raith Rovers (Six yellow, one red, one penalty)
Hibernian 1-1 Dundee United (Two yellow)
Dunfermline Athletic 0-0 Raith Rovers (One yellow)
Falkirk 3-1 St Mirren (Two yellow, one red)
What Ayr United are saying
“First game of 2017 at Somerset Park and it is one we are looking forward to. We are unbeaten in our last three. However, we need to start turning these draws into wins. Last week was probably our poorest performance for a wee while however in difficult conditions we still came out of it with a point. After last season our games with Dunfermline always have that wee bit of spice to them and there always seems to be excitement galore when we play them. They are on a really good run and like every game in this league it will be difficult” (Ian McCall, manager)
What Dunfermline Athletic are saying
“There is still an opportunity to finish in the top four. That is what we are trying to aim for, I know that it is going to be difficult because there are a lot of quality teams in this league. We think that we have the squad capable of doing that.” (Allan Johnston, manager)
Former Ayr United players
Andy Geggan, David Hutton and Michael Moffat.
Former Dunfermline Athletic players
Conrad Balatoni (trial) and Paddy Boyle.
Form since last meeting
0-0 v Queen of the South
4-4 v Dumbarton
1-1 v St Mirren (A)
0-1 v Dundee United
0-2 v Raith Rovers (A)
1-1 v Falkirk
2-2 v Queen of the South (A)
2-1 v Greenock Morton
Last seven meetings
03/12/16: Dunfermline Athletic 1-1 Ayr United
01/10/16: Ayr United 0-0 Dunfermline Athletic
12/03/16: Ayr United 0-2 Dunfermline Athletic
13/02/16: Dunfermline Athletic 3-2 Ayr United
12/12/15: Ayr United 1-2 Dunfermline Athletic
12/09/15: Dunfermline Athletic 0-2 Ayr United
28/11/15: Ayr United 0-1 Dunfermline Athletic
Last Ayr United home win – 05/12/09 (1-0)
Ayr United 0-1 Dunfermline Athletic
Ayr United 7/5 Draw 12/5 Dunfermline Athletic 2/1
Dunfermline win @ 2/1
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