Match preview: Dunfermline Athletic versus Falkirk

Derbies are always fiercely contested affairs. Yet, this one – which is so early in the season – may have drastic consequences down the stretch.

If the Bairns were to suffer defeat tomorrow, they would be six points behind an intriguing Pars outfit. Likely, even further off the pace of title favourites, Dundee United. It would be a blow to the club that has been runners-up the last two campaigns.

On the opposite side of the park are Athletic, who rode their luck with a draw at Almondvale. A week later, they backed up their playoff credentials with a demolishing of Inverness Caledonian Thistle. A defeat would not be as sickening as it would be for Falkirk, but it would take diminish what has been a very good start in the Championship.

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 19th, 15:00 at East End Park.

Team news

Dunfermline Athletic:

Jean Yves-M’voto (injured).
Nicky Clark (fitness).

Falkirk:

Aaron Muirhead (suspended).

Referee

John Beaton.

Games refereed –

Europa League:
FC Copenhagen 4-1 Vardar (3Y, 1R, 1P)

Premiership:
Rangers 2-3 Hibernian (8Y, 1R)

League Cup:
Ayr United 1-0 Kilmarnock

Inverness Caledonian Thistle 0-2 Falkirk
Partick Thistle 1-0 Stranraer

What Dunfermline Athletic are saying

“They have got good players and it’s going to be a hard game. I do not think there’s much between all the teams in this league. It is going to be a tough test. It is a new season, there is a few new players at both clubs, and at the end of the day it is only one game. But it is certainly one that we want to go and impose ourselves on and win.” (Allan Johnston, manager)

What Falkirk are saying

“I love derby matches, they are fiercely fought but I do not think there is any malice between the fans and that is the way it should be. Dunfermline will come and attack us and I can guarantee that we will go and attack them as well so it could be an end to end game and a totally different game from the Dumbarton game on Saturday.” Peter Houston, manager)

Line ups last time out

Table

Screen Shot 2017-08-16 at 11.55.18

Complete fixture list

Screen Shot 2017-08-16 at 11.57.20

Former Dunfermline Athletic players

Mark Kerr (2012).

Former Falkirk players

Fraser Aird (2017).
Kallum Higginbotham (2010-12).

Last four meetings

Championship:

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

Keys to the game

Craig Sibbald:

It will be 246 appearances and counting for the versatile footballer playing for his hometown club, three months after he thought he was moving on.

The 22-year-old started 10 or more games in each of the following positions last season: left wing (15), central midfield (15), and attacking midfield (10). It is a real possibility that the loss of him in the interim has affected the Bairns’ form. Sibbald played on average 83 minutes across all their Championship games last season.

While he will not be up to speed in terms of game time as the other members of the squad, but his ability exceeds most of them. For that reason alone Peter Houston may slot Sibbald in the middle of the park in an attempt to lift the supporters and get the result necessary.

Myles Hippolyte:

He will never be liked amongst regular visitors to East End Park for his theatrics in winning his side a penalty in the last meeting between the two. Even so, his ability is exceeding his quality of simulation, and his pace will give whoever plays at right back (likely Ryan Williamson) a miserable time. At this moment in time, he can be the only player in a blue shirt that can be happy with his performances this season.

Luca Gasparotto:

Right back is a problem for both outfits. However, Falkirk are struggling, having had to insert their third choice centre back into the position. Joe Cardle needs to give him a tough time of it, if, Dunfermline want to maximise thier chances of winning. It will be a game that is played at a frantic pace. So, getting it wide to the left winger in one-on-one situations with the Canadian would be a way to exploit the weaknesses in his game.

Prediction

Dunfermline Athletic 2-1 Falkirk

Odds

Dunfermline Athletic: 1.78
Draw: 2.60
Falkirk: 1.63

Best bet

Dunfermline to win and over 2.5 goals: 4.25 


You can follow @MichaelWood_SJ on Twitter.

Available players that may improve Dunfermline Athletic’s midfield

The “pre-season” transfer window closes on the first of September. Thankfully, for many teams in Scotland, there are no restrictions to signing free agents after that date. The Pars are a club scrambling around for at least one player to keep them going until January.
 
Central midfield is the area in which Athletic are undermanned. To highlight the lack of depth in the poistion, Dean Shiels, and Michael Paton, have been stationed there this early in the campaign.
 
The reason for the lack of is depth is that, Andy Geggan, Lewis Spence, and Rhys McCabe left to pastures new. In addition, John Herron, returned to Blackpool as he waited on his contract to expire.
 
Aaron Splaine – who had a season in footballing exile – was the only transfer that came into the first team over the summer. Scott Lochhead, will have to take the step up from the now abolished under 20s and become a role player. The issue with that is he is an attacking midfielder not a conventional number eight in Allan Johnston’s preferred 4-4-2 system.
 
One way to resolve the issue is to re-sign John Herron, who is trialing around Scotland looking for employment. The question remains. If, Johnston wanted him then he would be at the club. He had formed a formidable partnership with Nat Wedderburn in the second half of last season. It was no coincidence when those two were fit, available, and on the park, Dunfermline became difficult to beat. It does seem peculiar not to match those two up again. Especially, as the days pass, and Herron still finds himself unattached.
 
Another option is Nick Ross, formerly of Dundee and Inverness Caledonian Thistle. He has appeared in 199 top flight games – 105 starts – laying on 15 goals and scoring 11 himself. Not a glorious return for a deep-lying playmaker, but not shoddy either. It never worked at Dens for him, but that does not mean it cannot work elsewhere. Particularly, with a change of scenery, and lower level of opposition. It is all about preference, but I am not sure someone who wants to be on the ball is the correct fit for the Pars at present. Most of their attacks are aimed around getting the ball wide to Joe Cardle, and Kallum Higginbotham, then working it into the box.
 
Sean Welsh would seem a sensible fit seeing as he is a ball-winning midfielder that can fit alongside Wedderburn. Many fans bemoaned the departure of Josh Falkingham, and he may fill that void for supporters. His approach to the game is more suited to the Championship than Josh’s was. Injuries have been the former Hibee’s problem. He has had eight of them to be precise. Five of them forcing him to miss anywhere between six and 38 games. In fact, an issue with his foot has seen him out of action since February. It is a massive risk to take. Yet, if, he can find sustained game-time until January, then it should be a viable move as a stop gap for all parties involved.
 
A midfielder has to come into the fray. If, there is an injury, then Johnston will patching together makeshift starting 11s to get to the mid-season transfer window. With two weeks left until the start of September, there is time to pick up someone that may be negotiating their release. Although, that is a crap shoot with many clubs chasing their signature, but that one player may do enough damage, and see Dunfermline finish comfortably in the top four.

You can follow @MichaelWood_SJ on Twitter.

Match preview: Dunfermline Athletic versus Arbroath

Allan Johnston’s reign as manager started with a victory in this competition at Gayfield Park over two years ago.

Less than a year last, under the stewardship of Dick Campbell, the Smokies failed to redeem themselves in the League Cup at East End Park.

Perhaps, it will be third time lucky against the former Hearts winger as the Angus outfit look to get their first win in six against the Pars.

It has been a mixed bag for the recently promoted part-timers having suffered a heavy defeat against Hibernian, they have had respectful performances against Ross County, Montrose, and Alloa Athletic when finishing third in their Betfred Cup group. At present, the Red Lichties are third in League One.

Athletic looked imperious as they finished on top and unbeaten in the League Cup until they faced the might of Rangers who humbled the Fifers. Although, they bounced back impressively against a poor Inverness Caledonian Thistle to remain in the top four of the Championship.

Kickoff time, ticket prices and where to watch

Ticket prices:

SRJ Windows South Stand: Adults £10, Concessions £5

Match information:

Tuesday 15th, 19:45 at East End Park.

Team news

Dunfermline Athletic:

Lee Ashcroft and Lewis Martin (suspended).
Nicky Clark (injured).

Arbroath:

No team news.

Referee

Euan Anderson.

Games refereed –

Premiership:

Aberdeen 2-0 Hamilton Academical (5Y, 1Y/R)

League Cup:

Brechin City 0-3 Falkirk (6Y)
St Johnstone 0-3 Partick Thistle (4Y)

What Dunfermline Athletic are saying

“Everybody hopes to be ahead of schedule for my age but everybody does not get the chance. I am getting the chance just now so I have to keep doing my best to keep in the team. If things do not come my way I will just have to bounce back again.” (Callum Smith, centre forward)

What Arbroath are saying

“I think we have a strong squad, but it does not matter how strong we are if we do not apply ourselves. I do not think we applied ourselves today. You will see the difference with that on Tuesday against Dunfermline.” (Dick Campbell, manager)

Line ups last time out

Complete fixture list

Screen Shot 2017-08-14 at 13.16.52

Former Dunfermline Athletic players

David Hutton (2015-17)
Dick Campbell (1974-75)

Former Arbroath players

Andy Ryan (2015-16)
Cammy Gill (2017)

Last six meetings

Challenge Cup:

25/07/15. Arbroath 1-4 Dunfermline Athletic

League Cup:

19/07/16. Dunfermline Athletic 3-0 Arbroath
26/04/14. Arbroath 1-2 Dunfermline Athletic

League One:

26/04/14. Arbroath 1-2 Dunfermline Athletic
25/02/14. Dunfermline Athletic 3-0 Arbroath
21/12/13. Arbroath 0-3 Dunfermline Athletic
17/08/13. Dunfermline Athletic 2-3 Arbroath

Keys to the game

Games have come thick and fast:

Tonight’s game will be Dunfermline’s eighth in a month. Only, Livingston have played more football during that period with their extra time victory over Falkirk. The Pars have had one Tuesday off since the start of the season on the 14th of July. Rotation will likely be key with Johnston already stating that he will make six or seven changes to the starting 11. As a result, Cammy Gill and Conner Duthie may get game-time. They are the only members of the squad not to appear on the field this season. Declan McManus seems a certainty to start, as he has been unavailable due to suspension for the first couple of league fixtures.

Arbroath have had one less tie than Athletic. Yet, they have come into contact with a couple of the countries top eight sides along with three teams slated to do at least okay in League One. Naturally, the difficulty of being part-time and having to come and play after a shift may play a part for some members of that squad. Nonetheless, they will have the fitness to hang for 90 minutes, whether they can do the damage required to eliminate the homers remains to be seen.

Prediction

Dunfermline Athletic 3-0 Arbroath

Odds

Dunfermline Athletic 1/2
Draw 3/1
Arbroath 4/1

Best bet

Dunfermline to win and over 2.5 goals @ 2/1


You can follow @MichaelWood_SJ on Twitter.

Match preview: Dunfermline Athletic v Inverness Caledonian Thistle

Championship action returns on Halbeath Road as the second match day of the league season takes place.

Athletic will be aiming to bounce back after a poor performance against Rangers; where they took a drubbing. They already have points on the board unlike their opponents who have not responded well from their relegation in May. New manager, John Robertson, failed to progress them in League Cup group stages before being bested –  at home – to Dundee United.

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 12th, 15:00 at East End Park.

Team news

Dunfermline Athletic:

Nicky Clark (injured).
Declan McManus (suspended).

Inverness Caledonian Thistle:

Aaron Doran and Carl Tremarco (injured).

Referee

Gavin Ross.

Games refereed –

League Cup:

East Fife 0(8)-(9)0 Dunfermline Athletic (2Y)
Forfar Athletic 1-3 Stirling Albion (3Y)

What Dunfermline Athletic are saying

“We know Inverness have a strong squad, they have kept the majority of players from last year. They have a bit of pace about their team and we know that it is going to be a tough test. We have to make sure that there is a reaction from everybody. We need to be positive and go and get the reaction that we need.” (Allan Johnston, manager)

What Inverness Caledonian Thistle are saying

“That tells you all the quality you need to know about Dunfermline right now. I know on Saturday they survived a last-minute penalty save but it was still a good point. Any point away from home in this league is excellent. Three points are gold-dust. Dunfermline have scored a lot of goals, so defensively we will have to be up to the mark and improve in terms of our finishing.” (John Robertson, manager)

Line ups last time out

Table

Screen Shot 2017-08-09 at 14.50.01

Complete fixture list

Screen Shot 2017-08-09 at 14.51.30

Former Dunfermline Athletic players

Brad McKay (2016)

Former Inverness Caledonian Thistle players

Nat Wedderburn (2015-16)

Last seven meetings

Premier League:

02/05/12. Inverness Caledonian Thistle 0-0 Dunfermline Athletic
18/02/12. Dunfermline Athletic 1-1 Inverness Caledonian Thistle
22/10/11. Inverness Caledonian Thistle 1-1 Dunfermline Athletic
06/08/11. Dunfermline Athletic 3-3 Inverness Caledonian Thistle

Scottish Cup:

18/01/12. Dunfermline Athletic 1-3 Inverness Caledonian Thistle
07/01/12. Inverness Caledonian Thistle 1-1 Dunfermline Athletic

League Cup:

27/06/16. Dunfermline Athletic 1-5 Inverness Caledonian Thistle

Keys to the game

The loss of Greg Tansey and Ross Draper:

Two lumberjacks in the centre of the park that can control any game have departed the Caledonian Stadium to stay in the Premiership. There is now little to no control in the middle of the park as the Caley Jags with have no recognisable central midfielder. Iain Vigurs is there and out of position as he would prefer to play wide left. Nat Wedderburn should be relishing being able to mark him out the game.

The threat of Iain Vigurs:

The former Staggie netted a hat-trick the last time these two sides met; which was at East End Park. On that day in July he was stationed as an attacking midfielder with himself and Billy King embarrassing the Dunfermline back line that night. Of the players at the club, only Vigurs and centre forward, John Baird, carry any sort of threat that should worry the Pars.

Redemption:

Being thumped 5-1 against a side that would go onto be relegated must have been unpleasant. Yet, this is a much changed side from last. Robertson has them set up in a 4-4-2 as opposed to the 4-2-3-1 that Richie Foran preferred. Eight of the 17 that were available for selection last year are still at the club and two of them are the third and fourth choice goalkeepers.

The changes have not been quite as drastic for Athletic but there has been seven players that departed who were starting or on the bench that evening. However, Joe Cardle, Kallum Higginbotham, Lee Ashcroft and Ryan Williamson will want to prove that Tuesday was a blip in their season and beat up on a team that showed them up in front of their own supporters.

Bouncing back:

Pars were five games unbeaten until they met Rangers at Ibrox, who stopped them going six by scoring six. The most optimistic of fans could only hope that they gave the Govan outfit a game, but that went out the window within 10 minutes. It is how Allan Johnston’s men respond which will be important, not the disappointment of the League Cup exit. A win would at least keep them in the top four; a position which they desire come the end of the campaign. A victory over a fellow playoff contender will solidify a good couple of weeks in the league season.

Being glib, Caley Thistle have not bounced back since winning the Scottish Cup in 2015. The fear for them is “doing a St Mirren” and by continuously going for the cheap and lazy option you end up flirting with another relegation. They need to get a good result somewhere to quell the fear of the supporters. This would be a start, but the longer it drags on, the louder the fans become.

Prediction

Dunfermline Athletic 2-1 Inverness Caledonian Thistle

Odds

Dunfermline Athletic 1.42 Draw 2.5 Inverness Caledonian Thistle 2.1

Best bet

Dunfermline to win and over 2.5 goals @ 4/1


You can follow @MichaelWood_SJ on Twitter.

Match preview: Heart of Midlothian versus Dunfermline Athletic

The top two seeds in the Betfred Cup will take the pitch in the capital tomorrow mid-afternoon with the winners guaranteed to progress to the round of 16.

Both sides find themselves in this precarious situation due to a previous slip up in the competition. The Pars being held to a spot kick victory over East Fife while the Jambos suffered defeat to a late Rory McAllister penalty in Peterhead. If they had kept an unblemished record then they could be confident that they would both progress: win, lose or draw.

Athletic will undoubtedly be underdogs given their position in Scottish football and adding to the fact that this will be attempt number 28 in 27 years to win at Tynecastle, it is a tall task.

Kickoff time, ticket prices and where to watch

Ticket prices:

Adults – £15
Concessions – £5

Match information:

Saturday 29 July, 15:00pm at Tynecastle.
Live on BT Sport 1 from 14:30pm.

Team news

Hearts:

Ashley Smith-Brown (injured).

Dunfermline:

David Hopkirk and Nicky Clark (injured).

Referee

Craig Thomson.

What Hearts are saying

“It is disappointing relating to the cup, not the league at this point. We wanted to go top of the table, but we have not done that. The demand was always on ourselves to try and win the match on Saturday, but now we know we have to win to go through, so that is where our focus is.” (Ian Cathro, head coach)

What Dunfermline are saying

“We have to make sure that we put a bit of pressure on them because results have not gone their way and Hearts are used to being up the top of the table and challenging at the top of the league so we have to make sure that we quieten the crowd.” (Allan Johnston, manager)

Line ups last time out

Table

Screen Shot 2017-07-27 at 20.07.49

Former Dunfermline players

Paul Gallacher (2007-09 and 11-13)

Former Hearts players

David Hopkirk (2012)

Last five meetings

Premiership:

07/04/12. Dunfermline 1-2 Hearts
17/12/11. Hearts 4-0 Dunfermline
15/10/11. Dunfermline 0-2 Hearts

League Cup:

23/09/09. Hearts 2-1 Dunfermline
25/09/07. Hearts 1-1 Dunfermline

Keys to the game

At the moment, the state of Tynecastle’s main stand is symbolic of Ian Cathro’s tenure as Hearts manager. The installation was met with unease, even though the club was prepared for modernisation. However, the emotion of warmth that was previously felt dissipated into something cold; as what the fans have come to face is something unrecognisable to them compared to the not so distant past. Now the head coach is at the stage where he (like the renovated stand) has the foundation and shell of what they want is in place but what makes it whole is missing. Tynecastle should be there long after many of us have gone. Yet, fans feel that Cathro’s reign at the club should be finished before the stand is. Especially, if the Jam Tarts do not qualify.

Athletic have rarely – if at all – came up against a 3-4-3 under Allan Johnston and it may pose a lot of problems for them. For example, Isma may cause Williamson problems if he drifts into the vacated space that the right back allows when pushing forward in attack. This would give him free rein to run at Callum Morris, and allow Kyle Lafferty to create space in the box when being marked up by Lee Ashcroft. The Northern Ireland international has scored in every Betfred Cup game, including a brace against East Fife.

The Pars will likely primarily stick to a 4-4-1-1 with Dean Shiels buzzing around Declan McManus, who will be asked to do a lot on his own as the newest recruit will likely help a lot in midfield against (going on Tuesday’s team) Don Cowie and Prince Buaben. The loss of Nicky Clark for four to six weeks with an ankle injury does hamper Dunfermline significantly, given the fact that he is the primary goalscorer. However, this does give McManus the opportunity to build on Saturday’s double against Peterhead.

Prediction

Hearts 2-1 Dunfermline

Odds

Hearts 5/11 Draw 4/1 Dunfermline Athletic 13/2

Best bet

Both teams to score @ evens.


You can follow @MichaelWood_SJ on Twitter.

Match preview: Dunfermline Athletic versus Peterhead

Both sides will be aiming for full points as they look to pick up one of the four best runner-up spots to gain qualification to the round of 16.

Dunfermline stuttered to a 9-8 victory over East Fife on Tuesday after a 6-0 victory versus Elgin, while Peterhead had their off day after a 1-0 win against the same opponents last Saturday.

Kickoff time, ticket prices and where to watch

Ticket prices:

Adults – £10
Concessions – £5

Match information:

Saturday 22 July, 15:00pm at East End Park.

Team news

Dunfermline Athletic:

David Hopkirk (injured) and Jason Talbot (match fitness).

Peterhead:

None.

Referee

Bobby Madden.

What Dunfermline Athletic are saying

“It is a good opportunity at home, playing against Peterhead. We will have a right go but that should suit us as well. We have been lucky with the fixtures getting Elgin and Peterhead at home, I would not have fancied those journeys and it important we get a result to take into the last game against Hearts.” (Allan Johnston, manager)

What Peterhead are saying

“We have got good options now with the shapes we can play and the bodies we can bring on although in the next two games we will be chasing the ball for big parts so that will be a different test. But we have just beaten a team from the league we have just come from so that was pleasing.” (Jim McInally, manager)

Line ups last time out

Table

Screen Shot 2017-07-21 at 12.48.56

Former Dunfermline Athletic players

Greg Fleming (2009-10)
Wullie Gibson (2009-11)
Allan Smith (2013-15)

Last four meetings

League One:

30/04/16. Dunfermline 1-0 Peterhead
23/01/16. Peterhead 0-0 Dunfermline
07/11/15. Dunfermline 0-0 Peterhead
22/08/15. Peterhead 2-1 Dunfermline

Keys to the game

Rory McAllister netted the winner in the Blue Toon’s season opening fixture against East Fife. This was his 146th goal since arriving from Brechin in June 2011. With that record it was no surprise that Ray McKinnon sought his signature in the last pre-season transfer window. The centre forward had been one of a few players that can be proud of their own personal efforts in trying to keep McInally’s side in League One.

Peterhead had scored five goals in the seven games that McAllister featured in against Dunfermline when they shared a division in 2014 until 2016, two of those came from their talisman. Fortunately, the Pars also have a track record of keeping the plumber quiet with three clean sheets over that same period. Neutralising the threat he poses will increase the Fifers’ chance of winning the match in which they are already favoured. And under Johnston, the east enders have a good record of keeping part-time teams scoreless.  29 instances from 55 occassions, including two from two in this campaign’s League Cup.

Taking chances remains the sticking point for Athletic, five on target from 17 shots against a depleted East Fife. Last Saturday when they won 6-0 versus Elgin City it was 12 OT from 23. That yields a 15% goal conversion which is average at best, especially when facing inferior defences compared to what they will come up against when the Championship starts in a fortnight.

Prediction

Dunfermline 2-0 Peterhead

Odds

Dunfermline 4/11 Draw 24/5 Peterhead 19/2

Best bet

Dunfermline -1 @ 10/11


You can follow @MichaelWood_SJ on Twitter.

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.