Pars travel to the Hedge looking for 3 points to stay in top place in the Championship
SPFL Championship - Saturday 23 September 2017 - Glebe Park - KO 3.00pm
Dunfermline go into Saturday's game at Brechin having regained the league leadership in the previous round of fixtures, and will be up against determined part-time opponents who, despite being at the bottom of the division, have competed well against some of the division's full-time teams.
After qualifying for last season's promotions play-offs through a fourth place League 1 finish, Brechin were rated as outsiders to move up to the Championship. However, victories over the Wee Team and then Alloa, both through penalty shoot-outs after the home and away legs of each tie ended with the scores equal, saw Darren Dods' team move up a division after 11 consecutive seasons on Scottish football's third tier. Dods, in his first managerial role, is still registered as a player at 42 years old, although he has not made any appearances so far this season.
Although Brechin have suffered two heavy defeats in the League this season (4-1 to Queen of the South and a 4-0 to Inverness) they have also drawn with Livingston and Falkirk, and lost by a single goal to Dundee United. Last weekend's 2-1 defeat to Dumbarton will have been a particular disappointment, after Brechin went ahead through a Jordan Sinclair goal, only to lose 2 goals in the final 8 minutes, after they were reduced to 10 men after Aron Lynas was dismissed in 71 minutes.
After regaining top spot in the division last week, Dunfermline have to guard against complacency and the weight of expectation when facing Brechin tomorrow. The length of the table separates the 2 teams and all signs point to an away win: Brechin's record is LDLLDL, goals for 5, against 14; Dunfermline, in contrast, have a DWWWLW record, scoring 18 goals and conceding 6.
Allan Johnston's settled starting 11 will have at least one enforced change, with Joe Cardle's torn hamstring depriving the manager of this season's standout player. David Hopkirk did well when replacing Cardle from the bench last week and will have at least 6 weeks to show what he can do in Cardle's absence. Jean Yves M'Voto and Michael Paton, both of whom would have probably been listed among the substitutes, are the other injured players. The team basically picks itself, although Callum Smith and Andy Ryan are both pressing for a start. Smith scored a hat trick and Ryan also got a goal in a 5-2 win over Motherwell Under 20s during the week.
Preferred starting 11, based on comments above:
David Hopkirk photo and Darren Dods photo & edit by Pars Review
Match report/opinion with photos will be posted here around 9.00pm tomorrow evening