It's been 7 years since Dunfermline last recorded a win at Tannadice, when a Paul Burns goal gave the Pars a 1-0 win in August 2011. Dundee United have the vastly superior record in this fixture in recent years, unbeaten in 12 games against the Pars. This is in stark contrast to the previous decade, during which (between April 2004 and April 2007), the teams met 14 times, with Dunfermline losing just once.
United's current form - 1 win in 7 games - is mirrored by their off-field issues, with turmoil in the boardroom following the resignation of long-time chairman Stephen Thompson earlier this month. Thompson had been due to stand down at the end of the season but his departure was brought forward by 2 months. The club also recorded a million pound loss in their latest annual accounts, released 2 weeks ago, which followed a £1.55 million loss announced in March last year.
Dunfermline have worked their way back into the promotion race with a strong defensive foundation. A first Tannadice win since Cher Lloyd (remember her?) was number 1 with "Swagger Jagger" could come tomorrow and give the Pars a huge boost for the final set of League games.
Here is the current Championship table:
THE OPPOSITION: DUNDEE UNITED
Last 6 League results:
With only 2 wins in the Championship in 2018, United's promotion challenge has now dissolved into holding onto a top 4 place that at one point seemed assured. After sacking manager Ray McKinnon in October after 2 consecutive defeats, falling 5 points behind leaders St Mirren, McKinnon's replacement Csaba Laszlo has a worse average points per game tally than his sacked predecessor. United are now 19 points behind St Mirren (although they have played 2 games less than the leaders). Laszlo has overseen results including a 6-1 hammering at Falkirk, and the midweek home loss to a Queen of the South team who were without their talisman Stephen Dobbie.
Tomorrow's game could see the debut of ex-Rangers madman Bilel Mohsni, whose international clearance has now been received. Mohsni had a colourful period at Rangers between 2013-2015 which culminated in receiving a 7 match ban in his last game for the club after kicking and punching Motherwell's Lee Erwin after Rangers lost the play-off final. Pars fans will also remember Mohsni kissing the Rangers badge and gesturing to the crowd at EEP when leaving the pitch at the end of a game between the Pars and Rangers in League 1 in 2014.
United have recently brought in another defender, Anthony Ralston, on loan from Celtic, while yesterday they announced that legendary former player (and manager) Paul Sturrock has been appointed assistant manager. Sturrock, who has managed in the English lower leagues in recent years, and until this week was living in England, had taken on the role of chief scout for the club, with a remit to bring promising players from England to United. The decision to change Sturrock's job role to assistant manager could be seen as a precursor to the former striker being named as Laszlo's eventual replacement.
Last 6 League results:
There is renewed hope for a late Pars promotion push after a trio of results in the past week and a half (7 points from 9) and a confidence returning to the team which seemed to be eroding over the past few months. With just 1 defeat in the last 6 games, Dunfermline look a more solid unit, with an excellent shut-out record as the foundation. Since goalkeeper Lee Robinson made his debut in the 2-0 win over Falkirk on 2 January, the team have kept 8 clean sheets in 11 games. Goalscoring has been an issue - only 2 goals were scored in a 6 game period between January and February - but there was an encouraging return to goalscoring form by Nicky Clark in the 3-0 win over Brechin on Tuesday.
The team has a settled look to it, with Lewis Martin taking his chance at left back, keeping the previously-suspended Jason Talbot out of the starting 11. The midfield trio of James Vincent, James Craigen and Tom Beadling have now played together for the past 6 games, and while there are attacking and creative options from the bench - Andy Ryan, Dan Armstrong and Fraser Aird - the team that started against Brechin is our strongest 11, a combination of hard workers and technically skilful players who - on their day - can compete with any team in this division. Tomorrow represents a great chance to extend the current run of improved form, with this Dunfermline team more than capable of achieving a long overdue win at Tannadice.
Match report/opinion will be posted at around 9pm tomorrow.