Dunfermline Athletic Squad 2017/18

Transfers in – Summer

CB: Jean-Yves M’voto, 28 (Raith Rovers)
CM: Aaron Splaine, 20 (Stranraer)
CF: Declan McManus, 22 (Fleetwood Town)

Transfers out – Summer

GK: David Hutton, 33 (End of contract)
RCB: Callum Fordyce, 24 (Queen of the South)
LCB: Ben Richards-Everton, 25 (End of contract)
DM: Andy Geggan, 30 (Ayr United)
RM: Michael Paton, 28 (End of contract)
CM: Lewis Spence, 21 (Dundee)
CM: Rhys McCabe, 24 (Sligo Rovers)

CF: Michael Moffat, 32 (Ayr United)

Age as of May 31, 2018

Goalkeeper:
#1 Sean Murdoch, 31 (1.88m)
#20 Cammy Gill, 20 (1.79m)

Defence

Right Back:
#2 Ryan Williamson, 22 (1.86m)

Centre Back:
#4 Jean-Yves M’voto, 29 (1.93m) 
#5 Callum Morris, 28 (1.91m)
#6 Lee Ashcroft, 24 (1.83m)
#22 Stuart Morrison, 19 (1.81m)

Left Back:
#3 Lewis Martin, 22 (1.88m)
#14 Jason Talbot, 32 (1.73m)

Midfield

Defensive:
#8 Nat Wedderburn, 26 (1.94m)

Central:
#13 Aaron Splaine, 21 (1.83m)
#21 Brandon Luke, 19 (1.84m)
#24 Paul Allan, 18 (1.78m)

Left:
#18 Conner Duthie, 21 (1.82m)

Attacking:
#19 Scott Lochhead, 21 (1.73m)

Attack

Secondary Striker:
#12 David Hopkirk, 25 (1.80m)

Right Wing:
#7 Kallum Higginbotham, 28 (1.78m)

Centre Forward:
#9 Declan McManus, 23 (1.81m)
#10 Nicky Clark, 26 (1.76m)
#23 Callum Smith, 18 (1.83m)

Left Winger:
#11 Joe Cardle, 31 (1.78m)

Depth Chart

GK: *Murdoch (c), *Gill.
RB: *Williamson.
CB: Morris, Ashcroft, M’Voto, *Morrison.
LB: Talbot, *Martin.
DM: Wedderburn.
CM: Splaine, *Luke, *Allan.
LM: Duthie.
AM: Lochhead.
SS: Hopkirk.
RW: Higginbotham.

CF: Clark, McManus, *Smith.
LW: Cardle (vc).

*denotes academy graduate.

Nationalties

Scottish: 15
English: 4
French: 1
Northern Irish: 1

Players that can multiple positions

LCB/DM: Wedderburn
LB/CB/RB: Martin.
CM/AM: Lochhead.
LW/SS/RW: Higginbotham.
SS/RW: Hopkirk.

Positional Breakdown
GK: 2
DEF: 7
RB: 1 CB: 4 LB: 2
MID: 6
DM: 1 CM: 3 LM: 1 AM: 1
FW: 6
SS: 1 RW: 1 CF: 3 LW: 1
Total: 21

Average Age
GK: 25.50
DEF: 25.14
RB: 22 CB: 25 LB: 27
MID: 20.83
DM: 26 CM: 19.33 LM: 21 AM: 21
ATT: 26.60
RW: 28 SS: 25 CF: 22.33 LW: 31
Total: 24 (504)

30 and over: Three
Oldest: Talbot – 32

20 and under: Five.
Youngest: Smith – 18

Average Height (m)
GK: 1.83 (3.67)
DEF: 1.85 (12.95)
RB: 1.86 CB: 1.87 LB: 1.80
MID: 1.82 (10.94)
DM: 1.94 CM: 1.81 LM: 1.82 AM: 1.73
ATT: 1.79 (10.76)
RW: 1.78 SS: 1.80 CF: 1.80 LW: 1.78
Total: 1.82 (38.32)

Smallest: Lochhead and Talbot (1.73m)
Tallest: Wedderburn (1.94m)

Starting XI

Murdoch;
Ashcroft, Morris, Talbot;
Wedderburn, Higginbotham;
Clark.

Average Age:
Average Height:

Oldest XI

Murdoch;
Morris, M’Voto, Talbot;
Wedderburn
Higginbotham, Clark, Cardle.

Average Age:
Average Height:

Youngest XI

Gill;
Williamson, Morrison, Ashcroft, Martin;
Hopkirk, Luke, Allan, Duthie;
McManus, Smith.

Average Age: 21 (231)
Average Height:

Contracted for 2018/19

Callum Smith
Cammy Gill
Paul Allan
Sean Murdoch
Stuart Morrison


You can follow @MichaelWood_SJ on Twitter.

Another day, another Kallum, another re-signing

Yesterday at East End Park, Kallum Higginbotham followed Callum Morris in signing a contract to extend his stay at Dunfermline Athletic by another season.
 
The Englishman will be 28 years of age by the start of the 2017/18 Championship campaign which kicks off on August 5th and will want to keep the momentum rolling as the Pars aim for a top four finish.
 
Higgy – as he his colloquial known by the supporters – performed to expectations in his debut outing with the Fife outfit. Eight assists (most in the team) and six goals (second to Nicky Clark) was his output; he will need to score a couple more goals next year. This was from playing wide left of the midfield where he looks as though he could be more influential in a central role behind Clark. The reason behind that thought is that he is the most talented footballer that the club has when the ball is at his feet, and he is keen to roam around the final third.
 
There are a few perceived weaknesses in his game. One is that he can let the red mist descend very easily when he feels the referee is not awarding the calls his team deserves and gets booked; he was yellow carded on 10 occasions in 32 matches. The other being that he wants to carry the offence all too often (see the two missed penalties against Ayr United) which is good in the sense that he does not shy away even when results are not going the team’s way. Yet, it does have the downside that he needs to help bring others into the situation.
 
Higginbotham is a player that can perform to an adequate level for any side up to the top six in the Premiership. The only problem is that being shunted out wide often stifles his creativity and influence on the game which can draw ire from the fan base. Acquiring him in the first place was a big deal considering how well he had performed for Kilmarnock and Partick Thistle in the Premiership.
 
His career kicked off in 2007 when he was playing for League Two Rochdale; 15 miles from where he grew up in Salford. After being marginalised at The Dale he moved up north to Falkirk. His performances in the second tier seen League One, Huddersfield Town bring him back to England. It was a hapless spell in Yorkshire – as he barely made an appearance for The Terriers – and was bounced on loan for three seasons until Alan Archibald brought him to Fir Park after impressing for Motherwell at the end of the 2012/13 campaign. In the season before last he played his part in keeping Killie in the top flight before taking the step down to Athletic and a contender for player of the season.
He seems to have finally settled and learned from his prior experiences of staying put when it is going well. However, he is not happy to rest on his laurels and is looking to build on the solid foundations he has helped built on Halbeath Road. Speaking to dafc.co.uk, he said:
 
“I would like to do better than I did last season, score more goals, more assists and hopefully push us up that league. I do not really set targets for myself, I just take each game as it comes but I realise what I did last year goals-wise and assists-wise and you know what, I definitely want to better that. I do not set targets, I just take each game as it comes.”
It is refreshing to see him strive to want to surpass the already high expectations he has set out. He will be a vital cog in the machine that makes the attack work. His performances in games will be vital if he has aspirations of giving this club a chance of getting into the Premiership this time next year.

You can follow @MichaelWood_SJ on Twitter.

Why Callum Morris may be the most important re-signing for Dunfermline Athletic

Today at East End Park, Callum Morris signed a contract to extend his stay at Dunfermline Athletic for next season.

The six foot one inch Geordie centre back returned to Fife in the mid-season transfer window after a frustrating six months at Aberdeen.

Morris left in his first stint with the Pars to move up two divisions with Premiership side Dundee United in the summer of 2014. This was after a couple of seasons of personal success amid a difficult period for the club which was reeling from financial difficulties. Alas, the former PFA Scotland Team of the Year member in 2012/13 (Division One) and 2013/14 (League One) suffered many injuries during his time at Tannadice. As a result, he was not contracted with the Tangerines as they were relegated to the Championship in 2016. Although, he landed on his feet at Pittodrie; where he was hampered by niggles and failed to establish himself within the match day squad of 18.

The defender who is eligible for England (place of birth), Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (family ties) was most influential when he returned to the field of play for Atheltic. He featured in four of the 10 clean sheets in his 13 games for the club. In addition, his minutes per goal conceded (103) was better than anyone else; the near ever-present Lee Ashcroft was second at 74 minutes.

What these statistics show is that he is bringing a solidity at the back that was not entirely present before his arrival. Once he was inserted and became a mainstay in Allan Johnston’s starting XI in the second half of the campaign, Dunfermline looked a far better side. As shown by the fact that the team only conceded twice in a game on a couple of occasions – Falkirk (A) and Hibernian (A) – with him on the pitch; it happened six times in the opening seven games, and another four instances came before January.

He and Ashcroft look a dependable enough partnership; even if the former Kilmarnock centre half can be erratic at times. Both players are at different ends of their athletic primes with Morris turning 28 in February and Ashcroft being 23. Yet, the Englishman will be able to provide a positive influence on his younger teammate, and help bring his game on.

It looks as though he settled in life which can only be positive. Speaking with Dafc.co.uk, he said:

“The fans have been massive since I came back, even when I walk up the town for a coffee people come and speak to you. Everyone is so friendly and come and have a chat. They treat you like a pal and it is a nice friendly, family club. All my family, and even my missus has said that this is the best club that she has ever come to watch games at so that means a lot. It is not just if I am happy but it is everything that comes with me. Everyone is positive about it and we have a big season ahead when we want to be pushing to win that title or at the least, be in those play offs this time next season.”

Morris has proved over his two full campaigns with the Pars just how good a defender he is in the middling divisions of Scotland. He is the best central defender the club has had since the days of Andy Dowie; whom he had partnered at one stage in his career. The fact that he and Sean Murdoch look so stable and organised as the head and the heart of the team with Nat Wedderburn and Andy Geggan as the solid core, it has the makings of an 11 that can duke it out in the Premiership Playoffs this time next year.


You can follow @MichaelWood_SJ on Twitter.

2016/17 Dunfermline Athletic player ratings

Goalkeepers

Sean Murdoch: 9 (last season: 8)

Last year, I wrote:

“A few minor problems with his game that can be exploited.”

There were no discernible weaknesses shown over the course of the campaign in which he has surpassed expectations on a statistical and eye test level.

He has taken that step up and was quite rightly heralded at the end of season dinner with many best player awards.

On form, there has been no better goalkeeper in the Championship as he helped the Pars avoid the drop with his ability to command the defence.

Defenders

Callum Morris: 7

A great return for the big Geordie central defender who proved a calming influence alongside Lee Ashcroft. He played his part in keeping four clean sheets – Dunfermline had 10 in total – from a possible 13.

Naturally, he should be with a team near the summit of the Championship. It should be a priority to re-sign him if Allan Johnston wants to be in promotion contention.

Jason Talbot: 7 (last season: 7)

Mr. Consistent. He never shirked responsibility and was very rarely bettered by a nippy winger. An experienced member of this young squad, and even managed to chip in with four assists from left back.

Another campaign like this at East End Park for the Englishmen would cement his status as the best full back the club has had since Austin McCann.

Lee Ashcroft: 6

This season’s marathon man having missed just a single game through suspension. While he can be erratic at times – see his red card against Dumbarton – he was the consensus number first choice at centre half until Morris joined in January.

Having reached maturity over this campaign upon reaching 100 league appearances over the top two tiers; he is capable of improving on his efforts this season. The management team also have belief in him as he was rewarded with a year’s contract extension.

Callum Fordyce: 5 (Last season: 6)

The vice-captain returned from a serious injury, and it was a baptism of fire after 11 months out; his return was on the Easter Road turf. Unfortunately for him, he was at fault for Jason Cummings’ winner.

Until the arrival of Morris, he was vying for the position in the starting XI with Lewis Martin and more often than not looked the better option. He finished the season with a similar minutes per goal conceded as Ashcroft but will feel hard done by with his backup role.

Ryan Williamson: 4 (Last season: 6)

Another injury plagued season for Williamson, and one in which he looks as though he has regressed from the promising youngster that burst on the scene four years ago. At 21, he is not at the level he needs to be defensively to be a full back; which is why he has seen himself falling down the pecking order.

With another year to work with the management team and the squad; it will be make or break for him as he looks to play a backup role.

Lewis Martin: 3 (Last season: 6)

It has been a steep learning curve for last year’s Young Player of the Year. His problem came down to a lack of positioning as he often got caught under the ball. Then on such occasions, he panicked, which ended up in him dragging his opponent down and receiving red three times.

Like Williamson, he has another season to get himself on the right track and prove himself a worthy utility player.

Midfielders

Nat Wedderburn: 8

He had many detractors in his first few months, but won them over with his imperious performances in breaking up play in front of the back four. His versatility in slotting into the backline showed his importance to the team as it was a role that Dunfermline has not had in many years.

He will stick around next season, and is the most important member of the midfield. Hopefully, Geggan will be back alongside him as that looked the most solid partnership in the middle of the park.

Kallum Higginbotham: 7

The leader in assists in what you expect from your most creative player on the park. Nonetheless, he had to put on chances for players to finish, and he did so eight times in the league; matching the target expected of him. He was playing a little out of position on the flank; I believe he would be suited to playing off a centre-forward.

Undoubtedly, the most talented member of the side. Although, he does let himself down on occasion with his temperament, which seen him accrue 10 cautions; more than any other par.

Andy Geggan: 7 (Last season: 8)

Geggan stepped up to take the captaincy over once again. He also had to spend a big chunk of the season covering at right back through form and injury to other members of the squad. He looks most comfortable in the centre of midfielder, but did well at full-back papering over the cracks that need solid foundations put in over the summer.

John Herron: 6

An upgrade on Rhys McCabe but ended up playing slightly less than his once Old Firm rival. Although, like McCabe, he looked more suited in an attacking midfield role rather than as a no.8. Yet, he formed a good partnership with Wedderburn as Dunfermline’s fortunes changed when they started playing together on a regular basis.

A free agent after he managed to get out of the last season of his contract at Blackpool. Some teams in League Two (England) and the Championship in Scotland will be interested.

Paul McMullan: 6

There is potential in McMullan, I am sure of that, but the right winger neither lays on enough chances for his teammates or scores them himself. His direct style of play is a blessing and a curse (see James Forrest under Ronny Deila). He can often streak away from a defence when he finally gets the ball under control, but he does tend to run down blind alleys and is unsure of when to pass the ball on.

Out of contract – as Celtic will not renew – and will turn 22 next season. He is a footballer that can be developed. Yet, I am not sold on his ceiling being any higher than mid-table of the Championship.

Joe Cardle: 6 (Last season: 9)

The fan favourite has taken a seat while Higginbotham took over the reins as the left midfielder for Johnston’s most used XI. An infuriating season for him that still seen him finish as the second top scorer from open play with four which included a hat-trick against Dumbarton. Incidentally, that was twice as many as McMullan netted in more than half the minutes.

There is one more year of his contract to run. I am not sure anyone would want to see him moved on as he still has enough to offer for the next campaign. He is and will be a positive influence in the dressing room as well as a great role player at the age of 31.

Michael Paton: 5 (Last season: 8)

His output was drastically down compared to what he achieved in League One with only one goal and an assist. He was pretty much frozen out of the starting XI after being substituted in the 2-2 draw with Dumbarton in early November.

It is likely the last we have seen of Paton at East End Park giving his marginal time on the field. It is a shame as I do not think there is a better deliverer of a cross in the squad.

Rhys McCabe: 5 (Last season: 4)

Ended up being used alongside Wedderburn the most over the course of the campaign. Yet, much like Herron he looked as though a more advanced role would suit him. Defensively he looked a little lost, and was guilty of losing the man he was marking all too often.

Forwards

Nicky Clark: 8

Outdone himself in the scoring charts with 15, and while he can flit in and out of games; he is a worthy player to start when pushing for promotion. Harshly treated by the fans as some believe it is nepotism for his inclusion in the squad (his father is assistant manager Sandy). He is not appreciated enough for his sheer ability to put the ball into the back of the net. Outwith that he finished tied third in assists with three.

Will certainly be at East End Park until May 2018, and has already penned his name in the starting XI for the upcoming campaign.

Michael Moffat: 5 (Last season: 6)

The link up man between the midfield and Clark, but never had enough assists or goals for the amount of minutes he played. He disappointed as a centre-forward but you cannot fault his endeavour or work rate for the team. Yet, his finishing has always been the one disgruntlement of his game which needs to be better at this level of competition.

Out of contract come the end of May. It would not be a surprise if he either stays for one more season or returns to Ayr United as they gear up for a title push in League One.

Gavin Reilly: 2

Everything that he had accomplished in his career up until signing for Hearts made this signing look a great one. He was returning to the management team that helped him become the player he was at Queen of the South. This was after taking a hit in confidence at Tynecastle last season. Also, this was before he was joined by his strike partner from QoS; Nicky Clark; where they combined for 44 goals in the Second Division. Alas, he would only find the net once in 11 starts and quickly found himself behind Moffat.

Likely to move down to the Championship level again. The Doonhamers would perhaps be the best destination for him to rekindle his career and become one of the best centre forwards in the league again.

Non-ratable (played under 650 minutes)

Ben Richards-Everton: N/A (last season: 7)

Only played six games, and was curtailed by a season ending knee injury at the end of October. Moving on to new pastures after his contract expires at the end of the month.

David Hopkirk: N/A (Last season: 5)

Once again resigned to the role of impact sub with 10 appearances from the bench. Injuries had a stop-start effect on his season which started positively with a cameo winner against Dumbarton. Never stops working, and that will flourish him into a dangerous threat if he remains available for selection.

David Hutton: N/A (last season: 5)

Undoubtedly, the second choice between the sticks having played only six and a half games.

Callum Smith: N/A

18 minutes and one assist at the tail end of the campaign for the 17-year-old who looks as much a talent as PJ Crossan who is now at Celtic. It will be a few years before we see him play consistently for the first team, but it is a positive start to his career which has a lot of potential.

Conner Duthie: N/A

Undefeated in his 97 minutes of football for Dunfermline. To his credit, he looks happy to play the game even though he has been shuffled all over the park whether in the Championship or on loan at League Two bound Stenhousemuir. From what I have seen, he looks at his best stationed at left midfield. He will still be at East End Park to see if he can make the transition from U20s to squad player.

Farid El Alagui: N/A

Was worth the punt, and provided that target man quality that Dunfermline had been lacking since the departure of Mickaël Antoine-Curier. Although, his effect was like that of his compatriot; good enough to be around the squad, but not to be relied on for where they want to be.

Lewis Spence: N/A

Only played 26 minutes and set up one goal. In my opinion, he should have got more of a look-in but will be playing elsewhere next season.


You can follow @MichaelWood_SJ on Twitter.

Why Dunfermline Athletic failed in getting fourth in the Championship

This season Dunfermline Athletic lay fifth in the Championship through an inability to win games on a consistent basis.

It is easy to suggest that they are where they are is because they have drawn and lost too many games which would make this the shortest article ever written on the site. Yet, there are reasons as to why the Pars stagnated in mid-table throughout the majority of the campaign.

1) The adjustment period left any hopes of a late playoff surge insurmountable

Five defeats in the opening six games killed any hope of the Premiership Playoffs. This season’s points per game average needed to make the top four was 1.44. The last time Dunfermline was ahead of schedule was match day two when they were defeated by Hibernian (2-1). On August 13th they sat fourth in the table with a points per game tally of 1.50. A month later they had their fifth successive defeat and the Pars dropped to ninth with a ppg of 0.50.

The turning point seemed to have come in a mid-week game against a high-flying Dundee United at Tannadice. While Nat Wedderburn was send off in the first half and Simon Murray struck late to keep the Tangerines near the summit. The fight and determination not to lay down and get thumped was commendable. It showed that they would not be in trouble of relegation and be amongst that group of teams placed fifth, sixth and seventh.

Subsequently, the form over the previous 25 – 1.56 points per game – would have been good enough to finish four points better than Greenock Morton if extrapolated over the whole season. However, that does come with the caveat of who knows if the Ton would have upped their game in the last quarter of the campaign if they were uncertain of their position in the table.

2) The results against Ayr United were fatal

Last season, Athletic won four of their five matchups versus Ayr as they strolled towards the League One title. This time around they have taken five points from the Honest Men who went down with a whimper after the teams around them got their act together.

The east enders lost four of their previous 26 with wins for runners-up Falkirk at home and away and third-placed Dundee United in Tayside. The other came from an Ian McCall managed side in Fife. The loss in itself is disappointing for obvious reasons but even more so that it was at home. In tandem with the draw against the South Ayrshire outfit – in which Kallum Higginbotham had two penalties saved within two minutes – it leaves a sour taste in the mouth as Allan Johnston would have likely earmarked those two fixtures for a couple of wins.

3) Lack of clean sheets at home

As mentioned in the previous point, Athletic was unable to keep the lowest scorers at bay and only managed to take one point from a possible six as a result. The Pars had two clean sheets both of which were against Raith Rovers who were the second worst team in terms of goals for and last in most number of matches in which they have failed to score. Naturally, Dunfermline’s two clean sheets from 18 seen them rooted at the bottom in keeping the opposition at bay. Even Ayr had twice as many.

In stark contrast though, Johnston’s men accomplished eight on the road – second only to Hibernian. Nonetheless, that came with the trouble of being unable to score in one-third of matches away from East End Park. The two instances of this were the 0-0 draws with Ayr and St Mirren. A win to nil in both games would have seen Dunfermline surpass their target for points on their travels.

4) Poor home form

As stated before there is a lot to be positive about away from home. Only the champions conceded less and only the top two accrued more points.

Yet at East End Park, even Raith Rovers faired better in the matter of points and victories. You can also pinpoint the poorer results on Halbeath Road without even mentioning the Ayr results once again.

  • A win to nil for Queen of the South
  • A scoreless draw against the Rovers

These are the two that stick out as neither are merited if you are aiming for the Premiership Playoffs.

5) Being far too depended on Nicky Clark was a problem

The assistant manager’s son scored 15 goals which are more than twice that of Kallum Higginbotham who finished second to him in the club’s goalscoring charts. Nevertheless, four of the inside forward’s goals are from penalties – which is not to say they do not count but you cannot hope on getting a spot kick every week. From open play, Joe Cardle ranks second with four, along with second choice centre forward, Michael Moffat.

Pars ranked tied fifth in goals scored and failed to score in games more often than seventh-placed Buddies who spend the majority of the season in last place. Clark was responsible for 35% of goal scored while all the other forwards (El Alagui, Hopkirk, Moffat, and Reilly) accounted for 21% of their beleaguered goal tally.


You can follow @MichaelWood_SJ on Twitter.

Match Preview: Dunfermline Athletic v Dundee United

Both sides will welcome the return to league action after their outings in the Scottish Cup as these familiar foes take to the field on Saturday.

It is the fourth meeting of the season and the Tangerines have had the better of the Pars whether it be in the league or the cup. However, it will be a much more confident and able Athletic side that the Taysiders will face.

Allan Johnston has overseen an upturn in form for the Fifers that nobody in the division has matched since the last meeting between the sides back in mid-November. The implantation of Nat Wedderburn to the midfield and Andy Geggan at right-back has been vital to this surge up the table.

Ray McKinnon’s men have not done bad themselves, and even he could not believe how well his team had done in the opening half of the season as they kept on the coattails of Hibernian at the turn of the year. If they can bring in a goalscoring centre forward they will be odds-on favourites to rebound back into the Premiership.

While the visitors are favourites going into this game, it would be a real statement of intent to those in the promotion playoffs spots if the East End Park outfit toppled the Terrors for the first time in six years.

Keys to the game

United have failed to blow Dunfermline out of the water in any of the matches between the sides since Allan Johnston took control of the club in the summer of 2015, but have been the better team in all but one of those occasions.

Five months ago, in the only contest at East End Park so far this season seen the Pars spurn opportunity after opportunity as they had three penalties saved, and were up against 10 men for thirty minutes in their 3-1 defeat.

The Tangerines have been on a dreadful run of form having conceded 12 goals in the last three games, this from a team that leaked just 14 in the opening half of the Championship season. By no means can Athletic take solace in the Arabs’ weak defence having been just as poor before their 10 match unbeaten streak.

Both managers would admit – if honest – that their playmaker’s ability is the strongest asset of their respective squads, but lack a complimentary goalscorer to their main net-finder. The touch of extra quality that Ray McKinnon’s men possess may be offset by a lack of confidence and that could play into the black and white’s hands.

The strength of opponent has benefited Johnston’s position, with just two matches against the top four in that time, and a couple of cup fixtures against lower league opposition. However, you can only play what is in front of you, and the home side have settled in the league; it is only the next four fixtures that will give a real indication if they are promotion playoff contenders or pretenders.

Kickoff time, ticket prices and where to watch

Saturday, 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 and Ryan Williamson (injured)
Callum Fordyce (match fitness)

Referee

Andrew Dallas.

Games refereed:

Dundee United 1-1 Queen of the South (Three yellows)
Falkirk 2-1 Dunfermline Athletic (Six yellows)
Raith Rovers 1-4 Falkirk (Three yellows)

What are saying

“Dunfermline are a tough side with a lot of good, experienced players. The matches between us have been close and they have been on something of a roll while we have suffered setbacks. It should be an interesting game but hopefully my players will get the bit between their teeth again.” (Ray McKinnon, manager)

What Dunfermline Athletic are saying

“It is always going to be a tough game because when you look through the United squad, they have really good players, the same as ourselves. I don`t think that there has been much separating the teams in the last couple of games. We just need to get that edge. Hopefully we can do it at the weekend. They are on a bit of a sticky run just now so hopefully that will work in our favour as well.” (Allan Johnston, manager)

Former Dundee United players

Callum Morris.

Form since last meeting

Dunfermline Athletic:

2-3 v Alloa Athletic (A – Scottish Cup)
1-1 v St Mirren
0-2 v Ayr United (A)
0-2 v Raith Rovers (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)

Points: 16

Dundee United:

6-2 v Ross County (A – Scottish Cup)
3-3 v Queen of the South
3-0 v Hibernian (A)
1-0 v Dumbarton (A)
2-1 v St Mirren
0-0 v Raith Rovers (A)
0-1 v Ayr United (A)
1-0 v Hibernian
0-0 v Greenock Morton (A)

Points: 12

Last four meetings

Championship:

08/11/16: Dundee United 1-0 Dunfermline Athletic
10/09/16: Dunfermline Athletic 1-3 Dundee United

League Cup:

31/07/16: Dundee United 2-0 Dunfermline Athletic
22/09/15: Dundee United 3-1 Dunfermline Athletic

Last home win (1-0) 21/04/07.

Table

screen-shot-2017-01-21-at-17-21-18

Other fixtures

screen-shot-2017-01-07-at-17-17-52

Prediction

Dunfermline Athletic 2-2 Dundee United

Odds

Dunfermline Athletic 2/1 Draw 27/10 Dundee United 13/10

Best bet

Over 2.5 goals @ 4/5


You can follow @MichaelWood_SJ on Twitter.

Match Preview: Dunfermline Athletic v St Mirren

For the first time in an official capacity, Jack Ross returns to the club where a knee injury ended his playing career; hoping to make his former employers as miserable as he was that day.

The Pars have a 100% record over the Buddies this season and their last meeting – in front of the BBC Alba cameras – caught the pressure that the former defender was under as he and Sandy Clark exchanged some heated words for one another during the second half.

As expected, Ross struggled in the early stages of his managerial stint in Paisley as he tried to address the malaise that the squad had found themselves in under the stewardship of Alex Rae. However, after a string of six straight league defeats, he finally achieved victory and soon St Mirren’s second of the Championship season in back-to-back weeks. He has built that into two wins and a couple of draws in the previous six.

Athletic are the form team over the previous seven games. This has seen Allan Johnston’s side rise up the table as they chase down those Premiership playoffs. If they want to continue this good run they will have no sentimentality when Ross is in town.

Keys to the game

The Renfrewshire outfit has the unfortunate combination of a leaky defence and a front line that struggles to score. This in conjunction with the fact that their opponents have scored first in 15 of their 20 fixtures (league worst) sees them anchored to the bottom of the table.

Their vulnerability has shown even when they take the lead as they have gone on to lose every game on the road when netting the opener; this was also the case on their last visit to the Fifers.

On average, teams that play Dunfermline and St Mirren are involved in the highest scoring games in the Championship, and that average increases when the Pars are at home and the Buddies are on the road. So, now that they will come together again; it would be no surprise to see a reprisal of a 4-3 rather than a 1-0.

The best plan of attack for Johnston’s men is to attack straight from the off as no side has conceded more in the opening 15 minutes than the Saints. However, they need to stay switched on at the end of each 45 as that is when they are most vulnerable to giving up a goal.

Kickoff time, ticket prices and where to watch

Saturday, 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 and David Hopkirk (injured)

St Mirren:

No injuries or suspensions.

Referee

William Collum.

Games refereed:

Hibernian 2-1 Dunfermline Athletic (four yellows)
Falkirk 2-0 Ayr United (one yellow)
Morton 3-1 St Mirren (four yellows)
Ayr United 0-1 Dundee United
Hibernian 3-0 Dundee United (seven yellows)

What Dunfermline Athletic are saying

“The last thing we should do is get complacent because we have experienced losing far too many games at the start of the season. There are a lot of quality teams in this division and there are definitely no easy games in this division. We just got to make sure that we get the mindset right.” (Allan Johnston, manager)

What St Mirren are saying

“There’s a fragility about the players that comes with the way the season has panned out. As the manager it’s my responsibility to try to create a different mentality within the group.” (Jack Ross, manager)

Former Dunfermline Athletic players

Jamie Langfield and Rory Loy (loan).

Former St Mirren players

Paul McMullan.

Form since last meeting

Dunfermline Athletic:

0-2 v Ayr United (A)
0-2 v Raith Rovers (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)

Points: 12

St Mirren:

0-3 v Queen of the South
1-1 v Greenock Morton
2-1 v Dundee United (A)
1-1 v Ayr United
1-0 v Raith Rovers
2-3 v Queen of the South (A)
3-1 v Falkirk (A)
5-1 v Spartens (Scottish Cup)

Points: Eight

Last three meetings

Championship:

19/11/16: St Mirren 0-1 Dunfermline Athletic
24/09/16: Dunfermline Athletic 4-3 St Mirren

League Cup:

26/08/15: St Mirren 2-1 Dunfermline Athletic

Last St Mirren away win 28 April 2001: 1-2

Table

screen-shot-2017-01-07-at-17-12-20

Championship fixtures

screen-shot-2017-01-02-at-17-06-02

Prediction

Dunfermline Athletic 2-0 St Mirren

Odds

Dunfermline Athletic 3/4 Draw 29/10 St Mirren 19/5

Best bet

Dunfermline HT/FT @ 9/5


You can follow @MichaelWood_SJ on Twitter.