The four games that cost Dunfermline Athletic second place

This season, the Pars in venues all over Scotland have been everything from title contenders to mid-table mediocrity through undulating levels of performances having an effect on the results.
 
The popular opinion was that the Fifers were to finish a spot better this time around and come fourth; the last Premiership playoff position. Dundee United, Falkirk and St Mirren were expected to be above Allan Johnston’s men. While, two of the three are still on course to make that prediction a reality, the Bairns have underachieved with Livingston overachieving by everybody’s reckoning.
 
With the League One champions, four points away from securing the runners-up spot. Here are the matches in which Athletic will be kicking themselves in not achieving the required result to finish second:
 
09/09/17: Greenock Morton 3-2 Dunfermline Athletic
 
The perfect example of how to throw a lead away. Athletic had been two-nil up and cruising going into half-time against a side they had beaten in their previous three meetings.
 
Clear errors through a lack of concentration allowed for the first and final Ton goal coming in the opening and last minute of the final period for Jim Duffy’s men to snatch all three points. That outcome allowed their rivals, St Mirren to displace the Fifers at the top of the table five games in. It also closed the gap to the Pars to two points when it could have been eight; the biggest gap either side has had is half a dozen.
 
30/09/17: Dunfermline Athletic 1-3 Dundee United
 
In eight league attempts, Johnston has failed to mastermind a plan to topple them and in the Challenge and League Cup, he fairs no better. Even recent strugglers, Dumbarton have a better winning record over the Tangerines since the Dundonian’s entrance in Summer 2016; three wins from eight. While the Livingston results offset the defeat at Tannadice. Getting a doing at home to the 2010 Scottish Cup winners was the second defeat of the season and was the beginning of a rot that set in until Christmas Eve Eve. A draw would have sufficed even though it would have relinquished control of top spot to the Buddies.
 
09/12/17: Dunfermline Athletic 2-5 Queen of the South
 
The most pathetic display in the Johnston era as a 35-year-old Stephen Dobbie was given free reign to rip the pish out of the Pars defence. 15% of the goals conceded so far this season by Athletic came in this match. That is abysmal considering no team has more clean sheets or a better goals conceded per game record than them.
 
Gary Naysmith’s men are on course to finish seventh, a spot worse than they did last time out with the second worst defensive record. For them to get such a convincing win, especially, when these matches tend to be close affairs was embarrassing for the homers. A 2-1 win would have been fine and kept the Doonhamers on the outside looking in for the Premiership playoffs in the remainder of the campaign.
 
26/01/18: Dunfermline Athletic 1-2 St Mirren
 
There is no shame in defeat to the impending champions, but it would have been a positive to go five games unbeaten with a draw; a feat that the Pars took until March to achieve. Considering this match was live on BT Sport, a decent performance instead of an insipid one would have brought plaudits upon the squad on a national stage. Instead, they were subject to a goal that went worldwide thanks to Barcelona’s Twitter feed and was made to look a far second best.

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Match preview: Falkirk versus Dunfermline Athletic

Tomorrow, Grangemouth will host – in reality – the last meaningful game for the Bairns this season due to their worst league finish since 2002 when they were ninth in the second tier. While it has been an unsatisfying nine months, the disappointment could end by impeding the Pars reaching the Premiership playoffs with a first league victory of the campaign against their rivals.

Kickoff time and where to watch

Match information:

Saturday 7th, 15:00 at Falkirk Stadium.

Team news

Falkirk:

David Mitchell (injured).

Dunfermline Athletic:

Aaron Splaine, Michael Paton and Sean Murdoch (injured).

Referee

Don Robertson.

Previous games refereed involving either team this season:

Championship

St Mirren 3-1 Falkirk (4Y, 1R)
Dunfermline Athletic 1-3 Dundee United (6Y)
Falkirk 0-0 St Mirren (4Y)
Queen of the South 0-0 Dunfermline Athletic (2Y)

League Cup

Rangers 6-0 Dunfermline Athletic (3Y).

What Falkirk are saying

“We want Saturday to be a good derby game with a little bit of spice to it. We want the game to pass by with a good atmosphere. There is going to be an edge to the game, I think there will be a great crowd in, but we do not want anyone to cross the line.” (Paul Hartley, manager)

What Dunfermline Athletic are saying

“There is still a lot to play for, the league is still really really tight. We just know that we have to continue playing the way that we have been playing because we need to get ourselves into the play offs. It is going to be a really tough game at the weekend. Falkirk’s record shows that they are on a good run as well.” (Allan Johnston, manager)

Line ups last time out

Former Falkirk players

Fraser Aird (2017)
James Craigen (16-18)

Kallum Higginbotham (10-12)

Former Dunfermline Athletic players

Rory Loy (09).

Last eight meetings

Championship:

02/01/17. Dunfermline Athletic 2-0 Falkirk
04/11/17. Falkirk 1-1 Dunfermline Athletic
19/08/17. Dunfermline Athletic 3-1 Falkirk

22/04/17. Dunfermline Athletic 1-2 Falkirk
04/02/17. Falkirk 2-0 Dunfermline Athletic
26/12/16. Dunfermline Athletic 1-1 Falkirk
15/10/16. Falkirk 2-1 Dunfermline Athletic

Challenge Cup:

07/10/17. Falkirk 2-0 Dunfermline Athletic

Prediction

Falkirk 2-3 Dunfermline Athletic

Odds

Falkirk: 1.60
Draw: 2.40
Dunfermline Athletic: 1.70

Best bet

Dunfermline Athletic to win and over 2.5 goals: 3.80

Table

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Complete fixture list

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You can follow @MichaelWood_SJ on Twitter.

 

Match preview: Dunfermline Athletic versus Livingston

The Lions have been tamed by the Pars in the previous encounters this season and Athletic will be hoping to at least share the spoils with the West Lothian outfit at the end of play tonight.

On Saturday, Queen of the South’s playoff hopes were ended by a Nicky Clark hat-trick while the League One champions remained on course to finish runners-up to St Mirren with a three-nil win in Dumbarton.

Allan Johnston will be hoping to put all the pressure on Greenock Morton  – who do not play this evening – and push them down into at least fourth. David Hopkin will aim to defeat the only side he has not been able to in the Championship this season.

Kickoff time, ticket prices and where to watch

Ticket prices:

South Stand: Adults £20, Concessions £14
All other stands: Adults £18, Concessions £12
Away Stands: Adults £18, Concessions £12, U12s £5

Match information:

Tuesday 3rd, 19:45 at East End Park.

Team news

Dunfermline Athletic:

Aaron Splaine, James Vincent Joe Cardle and Sean Murdoch (injured).

Livingston:

No news.

Referee

Stephen Finnie.

Games reffed involving either side:

Queen of the South 0-0 Dunfermline Athletic (5Y).
Dunfermline Athletic 1-1 Greenock Morton (2Y)
Livingston 3-2 Brechin City (5Y, 1PEN)
Livingston 0-1 Queen of the South (3Y)

What Dunfermline Athletic said

“We have to focus on ourselves and make sure that between now and the end of the season we get as many wins as possible. A win rather than a draw makes a massive difference. We will focus on this next game because everything changes so quick when you see the results and the table. So one game at a time, I know it is an old cliche but it is really really important. There are no easy games in this league. It doesn’t matter whether you are playing a team at the bottom or a team at the top they are that similar. You cannot lose focus.” (Allan Johnston, manager)

What Livingston said

[On signing Adam Frizzell]: “Adam is a attacking player who gives us some options and cover for the games ahead. We are coming into a busy period of games that are going to be massive for everyone at the club. I think Adam can help us through this period and he brings Premiership experience with him. He is an explosive player, and can play anywhere across the midfield or up front.” (David Hopkin, manager)

Line ups last time out

Former Dunfermline Athletic players

Scott Robinson (2016)
Shaun Byrne (08-16)
Gregor Buchanan (14-15)

Former Livingston players

Jason Talbot (2008-15)

Last seven meetings

Championship:

10/02/17: Livingston 1-1 Dunfermline Athletic
21/10/17: Dunfermline Athletic 3-1 Livingston
05/08/17: Livingston 1-1 Dunfermline Athletic

First Division:

30/03/13: Livingston 1-1 Dunfermline Athletic
26/01/13: Dunfermline Athletic 0-1 Livingston
08/12.12: Livingston 2-1 Dunfermline Athletic
22/09/12: Dunfermline Athletic 4-0 Livingston

Keys to the game

The Lions can prey on Athletic’s weaknesses just by playing their natural game. Hopkin likes a direct approach from his squad, and that can mean launching long balls into the channels that force the centre backs out to deal with them, scavenging on the loose ball and pepper the goal from there. 

While Lee Miller is closer to the end than the start of his career, he can provide a good base in which to attempt win headers, hold up the ball and allow Ryan Hardie to do the running for the pair. The on-loan Rangers centre forward has netted seven times in nine starts.

Prediction

Dunfermline Athletic 2-1 Livingston 

Odds

Dunfermline Athletic: 1.50
Draw: 2.40
Livingston: 2.10

Best bet

Over 2.5 goals: 1.10

Table

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Complete fixture list

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The Championship run-in

28 days separates now and the end of the league section of the 2017/18 campaign. However, a lot of football remains to be played.

Fresh of their Challenge Cup success, Inverness Caledonian Thistle need to fulfil nine fixtures. Premiership playoff hopefuls, Dundee United, have eight to cram in by the last Saturday in April then the potential of a further six fixtures to be played over the course of 18 or 19 days. Dumbarton face a similar predicament before the likelihood of four games over 11 days in the Championship playoffs.

Only the sides fourth through six – Dunfermline Athletic, Greenock Morton and Queen of the South – have no games in hand.

There are three certainties in the Championship; St Mirren will be champions, Brechin City are relegated and Dumbarton will finish in ninth. Elsewhere lies the unknown, teams from second to six are still playing for something other than professional pride. There are two mini-tables that have formed which have competitive meaning; the challenge between Dundee United and Livingston for second place and the three-way for fourth. In a less intriguing contest for neutral observers, the Caley Jags and Falkirk are aiming to finish above one another.

There are many ways to decipher how the run-in will go and none of them are accurate or as fun to the enjoyment of live sport. Yet, for those that want some information to how the Championship table may end then look no further than the breakdown of the reverse of the fixtures from the second quarter of the season and the manager’s points per game.

Naturally, there is some correlation between a team’s remaining fixtures yielding the same amount of points as their (manager’s point per game) if they have been in the job the full season.

Teams that have a correlation

Greenock Morton – Jim Duffy: 54 (54)
Dunfermline Athletic – Allan Johnston: 51 (51)
Brechin City – Darren Dods: 5 (5)

Teams that are within a point’s difference

St Mirren – Jack Ross: 80 (81)
Livingston – David Hopkin: 63 (64)
Dumbarton – Stevie Aitken: 33 (34)

Those with a bigger variance as a result of the second quarter being their best

Queen of the South – Gary Naysmith: 55 (50)
Inverness Caledonian Thistle – John Robertson: 48 (42)

The other sides with the biggest variance were the team’s that changed manager

Dundee United – Csaba László: 65 (56)
Falkirk – Paul Hartley: 40 (45)

Result based on reverse fixture outcome:

St Mirren  

Inverness Caledonian Thistle (A) W
Brechin City (A) W
Dundee United (A) L
Livingston (H) W
Falkirk (H) W
Greenock Morton (H) D
Falkirk (A) D

In their own hands, the Buddies need eight points to secure the title which they can do at Tannadice. Outside of that they will be hoping to win their first game of the season against rivals, Greenock Morton.

Biggest fixture: Greenock Morton (H)

Livingston

Dumbarton (A) W
Dunfermline Athletic (A) W
Greenock Morton (H) D
St Mirren (A) L
Brechin City (H) W
Inverness Caledonian Thistle (H) D
Dundee United (A) L

It is a difficult run-in for Livi who have to play the sides slatted to finish one through in their last seven. It is possible they will have to hold off the Tangerines for that second place on the final day of the season.

Biggest fixture: Dundee United (A)

Dundee United

Greenock Morton (A) W
Dumbarton (H) D
Dumbarton (A) W
St Mirren (H) W
Falkirk (H) W
Brechin City (A) D
Queen of the South (A) W
Livingston (H) W

While Csaba László is struggling at present, there are enough games including facing the bottom two on three occasions to accumulate enough points to secure them in the Premiership playoffs. However, whether it is second, third or an unlikely fourth remains. Victory against Morton at Cappielow will cement it as a two-way battle for runners-up spot. 

Biggest fixture: Livingston (H)

Greenock Morton

Dundee United (H) L
Livingston (A) D
Dumbarton (H) W
Queen of the South (H) L
St Mirren (A) D
Inverness Caledonian Thistle (H) W

The Ton may need to reverse the form for the second quarter to make it back-to-back fourth place finishes for Jim Duffy’s men. Their next three fixtures are against teams who are still looking to achieve something with it also being the case that the Doonhamers can still be chasing them down with three games to go. Third is still there if they do pile the pressure on László with a win.

Biggest fixture: Dundee United (H)

Dunfermline Athletic

Queen of the South (H) L
Livingston (H) W
Falkirk (A) D
Brechin City (H) W
Inverness Caledonian Thistle (A) L
Dumbarton (H) D

The next three games are the most vital as they need to maintain their recent turnaround to have any hopes of making fourth never mind progress in the playoffs. The last three are more forgiven with the bottom three sides with very little to play for; by the time the Sons game rolls round, Steven Aitken may be looking towards the Championship playoffs.

Biggest fixture: Queen of the South (H)

Queen of the South

Dunfermline Athletic (A) W
Falkirk (H) W
Inverness Caledonian Thistle (H) D
Greenock Morton (A) W
Dundee United (H) L
Brechin City (A) W

A timed surge may propel QoS as high as third. However, that means taking 18 points from 18. Anything less, especially, if, they loss to any of the sides with playoff hopes could scupper them to another sixth place finish.

Biggest fixture: Dunfermline Athletic (A)

Falkirk

Brechin City (H) W
Queen of the South (A) L
Dunfermline Athletic (H) D
Inverness Caledonian Thistle (A) L
Dundee United (A) L
St Mirren (A) L
Dumbarton (A) D
St Mirren (H) D

Paul Hartley will be hoping to hold off any threat from Dumbarton and finish above the Caley Jags to get this disappointing season out of the way and focus on returning the club to the Premiership playoffs over the Spring/Summer. A victory and denying rivals, Dunfermline fourth would be satisfying.

Biggest fixture: Inverness Caledonian Thistle (A)

Inverness Caledonian Thistle

St Mirren (H) L
Brechin City (H) W
Queen of the South (A) D
Falkirk (H) W
Dumbarton (H) W
Dumbarton (A) L
Dunfermline (H) W
Livingston (A) D
Morton (A) L

Challenge Cup success has meant that this season has not been a disaster for the relegated Premiership outfit. While they have fallen below expectations, the top flight playoffs always seemed a difficult ask considering the turmoil surrounding the club. What is left is to finish as high up the table as possible, while fifth is unlikely, it would be a solid base to try and build on for next season.

Biggest fixture: Falkirk (H)

Dumbarton 

Livingston (H) L
Dundee United (H) L
Dundee United (A) D
Greenock Morton (A) L
Inverness Caledonian Thistle (A) L
Inverness Caledonian Thistle (H) W
Falkirk (H) D
Dunfermline Athletic (A) D

The Sons have a run of three games against the two sides directly above them. Since they are desperate not to finish ninth, they will need to improve on the four points they have earned in the reverse fixtures to drag the Bairns and Caley into a sense of trepidation. It is possible that there last game against the Pars could be meaningless to the Fifers.

Biggest fixture: Falkirk (H)

Brechin City 

Falkirk (A) L
Inverness Caledonian Thistle (A) L
St Mirren (H) L
Dunfermline Athletic (A) L
Dundee United (H) D
Livingston (A) L
Queen of the South (H) L

Darren Dods will be looking for his first win in the Championship before returning to League One. Their best chance appears to be at home having taking all their points at Glebe Park. Their last opportunity comes on the final day of the season.

Biggest fixture: Queen of the South (H)


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Match preview: Dunfermline Athletic versus Queen of the South

Today, the Pars have the opportunity to right a massive wrong in their eyes and keep the pressure on Greenock Morton, who will likely finish in that last Premiership playoff spot.

The last time the Doonhamers visited Fife they left with three points after inflicting the worst league defeat on Athletic since the Ton won by four goals: 28 March, 2015.

With just one point separating both sides and the homers being 13 goals better off and having to play the bottom four in the final fixtures of the regular season. It is likely that a win would kill off the Dumfries outfit’s chances of finishing fourth.

Kickoff time, ticket prices and where to watch

Ticket prices:

SRJ Windows South Stand: Adults £20, Concessions £14
All other stands: Adults £18, Concessions £12
Away Stands: Adults £18, Concessions £12, U12s £5

Match information:

Saturday 31, March 15:00pm at East End Park.

Team news

Dunfermline Athletic:

Aaron Splaine, Joe Cardle and Sean Murdoch (injured).

Queen of the South:

No news.

Referee

William Collum.

Games reffed involving either side:

Dunfermline Athletic 2-5 Queen of the South (1Y, 1PEN).
Dunfermline Athletic 2-0 Falkirk (5Y)
Queen of the South 1-1 (6-5 Pens) Hamilton Academical (1Y)

What Dunfermline Athletic are saying

“Hopefully we are timing our run well and we can put a run of results together. You can see the confidence in the players and we just need to make sure that translates into three points. From our point of view the fans have stuck by the players and it makes a big difference when you have the fans on side. There are other clubs where that is not the same scenario. We are lucky and we have to make sure that we repay them with performances on the pitch.” (Allan Johnston, manager)

 

Line ups last time out

 

Former Dunfermline Athletic players

Callum Fordyce (2015-17)
Scott Mercer (12-15)
Shaun Rooney (15-16)

Former Queen of the South players

Lee Robinson (09, 10-13, 16-17)
Michael Paton (08)
Nicky Clark (11-13)

Last seven meetings

Championship:

24/02/18. Queen of the South 0-0 Dunfermline Athletic.
09/12/17. Dunfermline Athletic 2-5 Queen of the South.
14/10/17. Queen of the South 0-0 Dunfermline Athletic.
06/05/17. Queen of the South 0-1 Dunfermline Athletic.
07/03/17. Dunfermline Athletic 1-1 Queen of the South.
17/12/16. Queen of the South 2-2 Dunfermline Athletic.
27/08/16. Dunfermline Athletic 0-1 Queen of the South.

 

Prediction

Dunfermline Athletic 3-1 Queen of the South

Odds

Dunfermline Athletic: 1.05
Draw: 2.66
Queen of the South: 2.80

Best bet

Dunfermline Athletic to win: 1.05

Table

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Complete fixture list

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You can follow @MichaelWood_SJ on Twitter.

What was learned from the International break

Alex McLeish settled back into the Scotland manager’s post with two friendlies over the previous week as part of an unnecessary stoppage from the domestic game in the footballing calendar.

It was a mixed bag from the former Aberdeen captain taking charge of the national team 3779 days after his last game, the two-one defeat to Italy in Euro 2008 qualifying.

On Friday, Scotland – ranked 32nd By FIFA; 19th in UEFA – were beaten for the first time in a friendly at Hampden Park since a Diego Maradona managed Argentina on 19 November, 2008. Costa Rica – who sit six spots higher in the ranking than their hosts – replicated the one-nil scoreline between the pair in the 1990 World Cup and will be off to Russia this spring to try and equal or better their quarter-final effort in Brazil.

The scoreline was not the disappointment, it was the insipid performance that precipitated it. A predominately English based side lacked the energy and intensity required for a Scotland team to get consistent results against teams their equal or better.

McLeish was already starting from a low base. There was those still wanting Gordon Strachan to stay; those that were peeved at him leaving for a job at then Premier League Birmingham City and those that were dismayed that Michael O’Neill turned down the Scottish FA to stay with Northern Ireland. The loss against the third best side in North America was the first defeat in over 16 months and was the wrong footing to get off on especially when it alienated defenders of Scottish based players.

Those plying their trade in the Premiership would get their chance though as six changes were made for Tuesday’s tie in Budapest. Grant Hanley, Matt Ritchie, and Scott McTominay dropped out injured while Callum Paterson, Kevin McDonald, and Tom Cairney, were benched. In came Jack Hendry, James Forrest, Ryan Fraser, John McGinn, Matt Phillips, Stuart Armstrong.

That energy and intensity missing four days earlier was made up for a contest that felt like a qualifier for the first 70 minutes with both sides picking up six bookings and leaving it on each other with some heavy challenges. It was certainly pleasing if that was a sign of what the future may hold for the nation. Even if Charlie Mulgrew missed that penalty in the one-nil win.

To put that result in perspective, Hungary is 18 spots lower than the Scots in the FIFA rankings with nine UEFA nations separating them. The country has been World Cup runners-up twice in 1938 and latterly in 1954 when they were considered to be the standout team of the decade. While they never went that deep in tournaments again they were still a good outfit until their major decline in the 1990s and 00s. Under the management of Pál Dárdai and then Bernd Storck they reached their highest FIFA ranking of 18th as they entered Euro 2016 and topped a group with eventual champions, Portugal, only to be eliminated by Belgium. Since then they have suffered a tournament hangover with competitive losses to Andorra and Luxembourg while drawing with the Faroe Islands all away from home as they finished third behind Portugal and Switzerland in their attempt to qualify for this year’s World Cup.

While these games are tantamount to nothing apart from trying enacting theories and netting ranking points. It was meaningful 180 minutes played and something can be learned from every area of the park.

Goalkeeper

Craig Gordon is still Scotland’s number one. However, we are nowhere nearer knowing if there is an international standard goalkeeper for World Cup 2022 qualification and beyond. McGregor is having a solid season for Championship, Hull City, but he is a 36-year-old shot stopper with 37 caps to his name. There would have been no harm in seeing what Jon McLaughlin and Jordan Archer, six and 12 years McGregor’s junior across the two fixtures. Especially, as McLeish knows if the Celtic goalkeeper is unavailable he can depend on a player that he gave his international debut too and can reliably deputise in the upcoming campaign.

McLeish is wanting an emphasis on playing the ball out from defence and that is not McGregor’s game. Gordon has learned to be precise with his passes over the last couple of campaigns under Brendan Rodgers. The other option to fit into that style is Scott Bain, who has been out of favour with Neil McCann at Dundee. The former Alloa goalie has been living off his previous marvellous form from January 2015 until he started to look inferior to his past self in Summer 2016. If he proves to those in charge that he can revert to the performances of the past in the remainder of the season for the Scottish champions then he has a solid chance of being that keeper for the future.

Defence

Three at the back can work for Scotland. Mulgrew playing as a sweeper and stepping into the midfield when necessary to help provide a shield for the central pairing from the options of Hendry, Liam Lindsay, Paul Hanlon and Scott McKenna. Turning Andrew Robertson and Callum Paterson into wingbacks will be beneficial to highlight their strongest attributes. However, it does mean that Keiran Tierney will be looking on from the bench. It may have to be done for the benefit of the team rather than trying to get both excellent – by our standards – left backs on the pitch.

There is still a need for a defensive right back that can give the left back freedom to counter in the more challenging games against the European elite or those difficult away trips in qualification. While not ideal in terms of looking towards the future, 32-year-old Phil Bardsley of Burnley seems the best fit. It has been over four years since he last featured for the national side; a 23-minute cameo in a one-nil friendly victory over Poland in Warsaw on March 5, 2014.

Midfield

Playing with energy in midfield is vital. Strachan talked about genetics. But the presence in midfield (McTominay: 1.93m, McDonald: 1.85m, Cairney: 1.83m) on Friday were shown up by the slight of pace from that midfield (Armstrong: 1.83m, McGregor: 1.78m, McGinn: 1.78m) on Tuesday. The three starting midfielders against Costa Rica had an average height of 1.87m while the trio that faced Hungary stood on average eight centimeters smaller.

The big laddies did little more than plod about, Cairney was out of position playing narrowly in a 3-4-3. So, he does get a pass. Although, the game past his teammate, McDonald by. The former Dee is used too shielding a back four in a three-man midfield with more creative players directly in front of him. McTominay was the standout of the trio at Hampden as he is familiar with being beside a number six; McDonald.

Armstrong and McGinn as a pair of central midfielders provided a controlled frenzy as they went around the pitch disrupting and harrying the Hungarians when they entered the middle third. McGregor has the ability to retreat and make it a flat three when required but is at his best being an attacking midfielder that can link up with the attack. All of them showed why the calls for them to play throughout the latter stages of the last campaign were just and now when they are fit and on form should be in each and every squad for the competitive fixtures.

Attack

Finding alternatives to Griffiths will still be on McLeish’s mind. McBurnie was isolated and asked too much of on his international debut. Especially, since he has only played 60 professional club games and is still eligible to feature for Scotland’s under 21s. Yet, he warranted his place with a rare bit of form scoring six in nine appearances for Championship club, Barnsley. 

Goals in games since Leigh Griffiths started for Scotland – 11/11/16:

Jason Cummings: 24 in 58
Oli McBurnie: 7 in 28
Sam Gallagher: 12 in 71
Stevie May: 5 in 30
Jordan Rhodes: 9 in 55
Tony Watt: 4 in 34

At the moment it is a little underwhelming from those that can be expected to be called up over the next four years. Cummings’ tally is impressive. Yet, on the face of it, he has only netted once in the Premiership through his 25 appearances (1,013 minutes) since his debut on 9 November, 2013. Gallagher may never declare for Scotland. Rhodes has not been in the form he was at Huddersfield Town and latterly Blackburn Rovers. May has not been the goalscorer he was before his knee injury in November, 2015 and Watt needs to find himself settled at a club before he can be considered again.

Matt Phillips as a target man payed off against Hungary and could be used in circumstances when needed against inferior European outfits away from home. However, it is not a solution to a long term scoring problem. Phillips would benefit from playing wide in a three pronged attack with Griffiths as the number nine. It may be a winning combination that can take Scotland to Euro 2020.


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Match preview: Dundee United versus Dunfermline Athletic

Kickoff time, ticket prices and where to watch

Ticket prices:

Lower Tiers: £20 Adults / £10 Concessions (u12s – £5)
Upper Tiers: £22 Adults / £13 Concessions

Match information:

Saturday 24th, 15:00 at Tannadice Stadium.

Team news

Dundee United:

Lewis Toshney, Fraser Fyvie and Jordie Briels (injured).

Dunfermline Athletic:

Aaron Splaine, Joe Cardle, Michael Paton and Sean Murdoch (injured).

Referee

Euan Anderson.

Previous games refereed involving either team this season:

Challenge Cup

Dunfermline Athletic 2-0 Arbroath (5Y, 1Y/R, 1R)

Championship

Dundee United 1-0 Brechin City (2Y)
Dundee United 2-1 Dunfermline Athletic (7Y, 1PEN)

What Dundee United are saying

“If you play at home and you lose you get criticism and it is legitimate. However, I also have to defend the players because they tried and we did come back from 2-0 down [against Queen of the South] to make it 2-2 before losing an easy goal which killed us. We have to go now and win games. The next game against Dunfermline will not be easy but if we want to go higher then we need the three points. You are under pressure all the time. Look, this is not just about me. This is about the club and the team. OK, we had some individual mistakes against Queen of the South but I trust my players and they have to trust their own quality. I am still looking to have a team on the field that can win the game. I told the boys that it is not about individuals it is about the club. If we want to go into the play-offs we have to win games.” (Csaba László, manager)

What Dunfermline Athletic are saying

“You can see the confidence. Getting the win in the Inverness game, and even in that, you could see the confidence coming back. The players were trying to create, and taking chances, and having that bit of creativity in the team makes a difference. We have just go to to make sure we follow up every result with the type of performance we have lately. Teams are struggling to score goals against us, which is always a good sign because you don’t want to give away cheap goals. We are going to have to defend at times this weekend, because they have got decent players as well. But hopefully we can make them defend.” (Allan Johnston, manager)

Line ups last time out

Former Dunfermline Athletic players

Paul McMullan (2016-17)

Former Dundee United players

Callum Morris (2014-16)

Last seven meetings

Championship:

10/09/16. Dunfermline Athletic 1-3 Dundee United
08/11/16. Dundee United 1-0 Dunfermline Athletic
28/01/17. Dunfermline Athletic 1-1 Dundee United
11/04/17. Dundee United 1-0 Dunfermline Athletic
30/09/17. Dunfermline Athletic 1-3 Dundee United
02/12/17. Dundee United 2-0 Dunfermline Athletic

Challenge Cup:

12/11/16. Dunfermline Athletic 0-1 Dundee United

Prediction

Dundee United 1-2 Dunfermline Athletic

Odds

Dundee United: 1.15
Draw: 2.40
Dunfermline Athletic: 2.70

Best bet

Under 2.5 goals: 1.07

Table

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Complete fixture list

Greenock Morton v Brechin City.
Queen of the South v Livingston.