The first Pars pre-season friendly takes place at Bayview today with Dunfermline taking on East Fife. This is the first of 2 visits to Methil over the next week, with a second visit on Wednesday 4 July against the Wee Team - Stark's Park is unavailable as a new artificial surface is being laid. Today's teams last met on July 18 last year in the Betfred Cup group stage. The Pars won a bonus point with a penalty shoot-out win after the game finished goalless.
The Pars squad is still very light on numbers up front, with only 3 players to choose from - last season's back-up strikers Andy Ryan and Callum Smith plus summer addition Louis Longridge, who is not an out-and-out striker although who can be deployed as such. Allan Johnston has already said that he aims to add 2 forwards to his squad. After completing most of his transfer business relatively early (certainly compared to last summer), it's strikers who are now his priority.
Central midfield is now another area where a new player will be expected to be added after the departure of Willo Flood. I covered the ridiculous contract situation regarding Flood in this article here. Hopefully no other players have such a clause in their contracts - commitment is essential to squad building and we have also wasted time and a week's wages on a player who clearly wanted to be elsewhere from the start.
We can expect to see a mixture of first team players plus youngsters at Bayview. Last season's pre-season friendlies were disappointing yet had no bearing on the team's excellent start in the League and Betfred Cup. There is no point in reading too much into the outcome of games such as today's. It's all about building up fitness for the first competitive game, on July 17 against Peterhead in the Betfred Cup.
Despite the lack of striking options, a strong starting 11 could still be named at this early stage, along the lines of: Robinson, Williamson, J. Longridge, Durnan, Ashcroft, Beadling, Higginbotham, Thomson, Ryan, Smith and Connolly. That potential line-up highlights the youth in the current first team squad, with relatively few "old heads". Only goalkeeper Lee Robinson is over 30. Most of the players are aged betwen 22-25.
After not missing any League, Cup or open-to-supporters friendly games for the past 2 years, Pars Review will sit out today's game as I am at work today and my son Ben is on holiday. We'll be back for the Raith game in midweek.