SPFL Championship - Saturday 23.12.17 - East End Park - KO 3.00pm
The very definition of a must-win game for Dunfermline against the division's last placed team
A home game against the only team in Scotland without a League victory could put Dunfermline back into 3rd place in the Championship, should Queen of the South and Livingston both lose to the division's top 2 teams, St Mirren and Dundee United.This is despite the Pars recording just 1 League win since September. Brechin will feel they are due a win at some point and will look at recent games against the top sides in the division to give them confidence, drawing against Dundee United and losing 2-1 to St Mirren, the winner coming from a disputed penalty.
Here is the current Championship table:
THE OPPOSITION: BRECHIN CITY
Last 6 League results:
It was never expected to be anything other than a hard slog for Brechin in this year's Championship, and so it has proven to be. One of only 2 part time teams in this division, Brechin gained promotion from League 1 last season through penalty kick wins in both the play-off semi final and final, after finishing fourth in the division.
As mentioned above, Brechin have made life difficult for the Championship's top 2 sides in the past month, and frustratingly for them have lost 8 League games this season by a single goal. Their away form, with tomorrow's game in mind, has seen plenty goals scored for and against - they have scored in 5 of their 7 away games, but have also conceded at least 2 goals in all of their last 5 away games. They have yet to keep a clean sheet in any of their 16 League games. Although they have come close to getting more points in many games, their current points tally of 3 is the lowest of all 42 SPFL teams this season.
Usually in match previews, I like to include comments from the manager of our weekend's opponents. Unfortunately, there have been been no interviews or news on Brechin's official site, local press or through national media this week (source: newsnow.co.uk plus several other searches). The club's official website was last updated on 20 December (an article on Scottish Cup tickets) and before that, last Saturday, when they confirmed their game against Falkirk had been postponed. It does not even contain a match preview for tomorrow's game.
Last 6 League results:
Tomorrow's game features the Championship's bottom 2 teams in the current form table. While Brechin are marooned at the foot of the table, 5th place Dunfermline have ambitions of moving up a place or 2 with a win, while also glancing over their shoulder at the group of clubs that have circled them like zombies scenting fresh meat during the current winless run. It's been 61 days since the last Pars' League victory, and going back further, the team have won just once in the past 10 League games. Manager Allan Johnston has tried a rare formation change during that period, reverting to 4-1-4-1 for one whole game and part of another, before shifting back to 4-4-2 for last week's defeat in Paisley.
Yesterday's "Onto The Next One" article (which can be read here) goes into detail about the possible formation and team line up for the Brechin game. Safe to say, we will line up with 4-4-2 but it's unclear if the same starting 11 as last week will begin the game. The manager confirmed yesterday that an unnamed player picked up an injury in training that could prevent them playing tomorrow. In my preferred line up (below) I have selected 9 of last week's starting 11. The 2 changes are on the wings, with Michael Paton and Fraser Aird replacing Kallum Higginbotham and Joe Cardle. I would prefer to make changes to central midfield, but options are severely limited, something that hopefully will be remedied in the January transfer window.
Our form has to improve - we have had no clean sheets in the past 8 games, but are still scoring capable of scoring goals, and indeed are joint top scorers in division. We have also scored in every home game this season. With games against Livi and Falkirk coming up, we must win tomorrow - anything else is completely unacceptable.
Preferred starting 11, based on comments above:
Dean Shiels photo and Darren Dods edit both by Pars Review.
Match report/option with photos will be posted here around 9.00pm tomorrow evening.