Match preview: East Fife versus Dunfermline Athletic

A Fife derby is upon us this summer’s evening with real implications in the Betfred Cup, as the Pars aim to keep their 100% record going and be two-thirds of the way to reaching the round of 16.

Darren Young’s side are realistically facing elimination if they do not secure three points after recent relegated Peterhead defeated them 1-0 at Balmoor. Circumstances depleted the Methil outfit on Saturday as the former Albion Rovers manager could only name four substitutes.

Young may take solace in the fact he was able to field six of his nine new signings, including Paul Willis, who he brought over with him from the Wee Rovers. Recent acquisitions, Kyle Wilson and Thomas Cordery made up half of the available subs.

Athletic do not have the same squad depth problems as their part-time opponents, and they have in-fact strengthened their first team on Monday with the addition of Dean Shiels. His attacking traits will give Young more to worry about in his preparation, as he has no doubt assiduously watched Athletic’s 6-0 win over Elgin City with a sense of quandary in how to set up his starting 11.

Kickoff time, ticket prices and where to watch

Ticket prices:

Adults – £15
Concessions – £12
Kids (under 16) – £5

Match information:

Tuesday 18 July, 19:45pm at Bayview Stadium.

Team news

East Fife:

Chris Kane, Jonathan Page, Kevin Smith, Kyle Wilkie and Mark Lamont (injured).
Kieran Millar (suspension).

Dunfermline Athletic:

Aaron Splaine, David Hopkirk and Jason Talbot (injured).

Referee

Gavin Ross.

Games refereed:

First this season.

What East Fife are saying

“We could have got something from the game but we were a bit short going forward and we are working on changing that. Dunfermline got off to a flying start against Elgin and they will take confidence from that. This is a derby so we need our defence to do a good job.” (Darren Young, manager)

What Dunfermline Athletic are saying

“Our aim is to go up this year and you can see with the ability that we have in the squad with Higgy and Joe in the wide areas and look at Michael Paton getting a goal as well. The boys at the back were great. We know that it is only a start, we have to keep going, working hard to get where we want to be at the end of the season.” (Nicky Clark, centre forward)

Line ups last time out

Table

Screen Shot 2017-07-17 at 10.04.31

Former Dunfermline Athletic players

Darren Young (2003-08)
Paul Willis (2008-13)
Chris Kane (2012-14)
Jonathan Page (2014-15)

Last five meetings

League One:

22/03/2014. Dunfermline Athletic 1-2 East Fife
01/02/2014. East Fife 1-3 Dunfermline Athletic
19/10/2013. Dunfermline Athletic 1-2 East Fife
10/08/2013. East Fife 0-1 Dunfermline Athletic

League Cup:

23/08/2011. East Fife 2-1 Dunfermline Athletic

Keys to the game

As expected, Dunfermline performs better against part-time opposition under Allan Johnston with a win percentage of 70.37%. Yet, the more interesting statistic shows that the Pars have a 12% better win percentage on artificial turf rather than grass. The Bayview pitch was recently laid with a 3G surface after being a grass field for 18 years.

One of the reasons behind the jump in win percentage on the “plastic” is the style of play that Johnston has implemented. His brand of football accounts for quicker movement of the ball on the ground when in possession and an emphasis on counter attacking when the opponent gets near their box.

While it has been a few years, and under completely different management when these sides last competed. Johnston and Young have had four battle of wits while in League One when Athletic and Albion took to the park.

Young tended to field a 4-4-1-1, which could easily morph into a 4-5-1 or a 4-2-3-1 when necessary. It appears he has adopted a similar approach on his journey from the west to the east of the country. Johnston has always stuck staunchly to 4-4-2 and expect to see much of the same tonight.

Elgin were impervious to the attacking formation. Especially, out on the right where a couple of the goals were created through Kallum Higginbotham, who had three assists in total. They could not keep on top of Nicky Clark who managed to get off a hat-trick of headers without much of a tussle for the sub six footer.

The combination of Higginbotham and Ryan Williamson on the right side of the pitch work well seeing as the right back likes to hit the byline while the Englishman enjoys coming inside for a wider passing range. Both are players who came up against Mark Docherty, Dumbarton’s left back, last season.

Defensive midfielder, Patrick Slattery, will have to ease as much pressure on the back-line as possible to give East Fife a chance to take something from the match. And to his credit, Young does manage to set up his sides to be extremely difficult to be broken down and get thumped by three or more goals. The prime example is that instance happened on three occasions, only his present club had fewer occurrences of being bodied (2).

Prediction

East Fife 1-3 Dunfermline Athletic

Odds

East Fife 50/13 Draw 35/12 Dunfermline Athletic 3/4

Best bet

Dunfermline -1 @ 19/10


You can follow @MichaelWood_SJ on Twitter.

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