SPFL Championship - Saturday 06/01/18 - YOUR Radio 103FM Stadium - KO 3.00pm
Pars return to an away venue that has been good to them in recent seasons, looking to build on Tuesday's derby win
Two consecutive victories might suggest that Dunfermline have regained some of the early season form that saw the team top the division during part of the opening quarter. While there were encouraging signs against Falkirk, there is still more to come, and hopefully the recent improvement will continue against an opposition team that the Pars have done very well against over a 20 year period. Home side Dumbarton, one of only 2 part time teams in the Championship, are again defying any relegation worries and are currently 6 points clear of a relegation play-off place, and 17 points from the bottom of the table.
Here is the current Championship table:
THE OPPOSITION: DUMBARTON
Last 6 League results:
It is very easy to be condescending towards Dumbarton; they are the perennial survivors in Scotland's second tier, often (as is the case this season) being one of only 2 part time clubs in the division, competing against full timers with Premiership aspirations. Plucky wee Dumbarton, perhaps. However, they are worthy of far more than a patronising pat on the head. Under manager Stephen Aitken, they have recruited some of the very best part time professionals in Scotland and further afield, players who are able and willing to play part time as they often have another income from outside the game. It's not so much the quality of player that is an issue for Dumbarton, but - like every other part time club - the limited time they have to train together, something that Aitken has mentioned but has not complained about.
Dumbarton's recent form is not great - they have 1 win in their last 6 League games, but it's worth noting that the solitary win came against St Mirren away, which was Saints' first home loss of 2017. While Dumbarton have not won many games recently, neither have they lost many either, suffering only 2 defeats during November, December and into January. A team who draw more than most, they know that preventing the opposition from winning can ensure survival; lack of victories means they will never be promotion contenders; 8th place is their trophy.
Some other facts about Dumbarton this season:
They are the Championship's second lowest goalscorers, having scored 15 goals.
They have a decent defensive record, conceding 25, which is only 2 more than leaders St Mirren and 1 more than Dunfermline.
Dumbarton haven't won any of their past 5 home games.
Last 6 League results:
Pars fans have had many enjoyable away days at Dumbarton in recent history. Dunfermline have won 5 and drawn 1 of the last 6 games at The Rock (the stadium which changes names every few months depending on which company are sponsoring it). Currently the YOUR Radio 103FM Stadium (yes, the YOUR is in capitals, as it's the type of cosy wee station that appeals to Clyde 2 listeners), there are ongoing plans to move to a different location in the town, despite only moving to their current site in 2000, after 121 years at Boghead. Such is the transitory nature of modern life.
Pars manager Allan Johnston's brow was less furrowed than of late after the Falkirk win. Johnston has been willing to change the team's formation over the past few weeks, something that would have been unthinkable, or maybe impossible, just a couple of months ago. Clearly putting the Soccer Skills & Techniques DVD that his wife bought him for Christmas to good use, the manager's 4-1-3-2 formation against Falkirk was the most effective for some time, allowing Big Nat to provide extra defensive insurance as defensive midfielder, while still retaining enough bodies further up the park to provide an attacking threat, rather than the loan striker line-up that was used in a couple of recent games.
The Pars have promotion aspirations despite a poor second quarter - they currently have the third worst away record in the Championship, with just 9 points gathered on the road. The team is at their best when they are set up to attack, and they are second top scorers in the division with 36 goals, 2 behind St Mirren.
Recent history between the teams: in season 1995/96, Dunfermline defeated Dumbarton in all 4 League games, with a combined score of 14-2. 13 years then passed until the teams next met, in 2009. Here are the outcomes of all matches between the teams since then, with Dunfermline winning 73% of the games played:
As always on Pars Review, the lead-up to our next game began with the "Onto The Next One" feature, which was posted earlier today.The article goes into detail about the possible team formation and line up for the game. Rather than repeat the content of that article, it can be read here.
Here is my preferred starting 11 for tomorrow's game:
Nicky Clark photo and Stephen Aitken edit both by Pars Review.
Match report/option with photos will be posted here around 9.00pm tomorrow evening.