SPFL Championship - Saturday 13/01/18 - East End Park - KO 3.00pm
The hoodoo has to end sometime.... doesn't it?
Another opportunity to end an almost 7 year wait for a victory over Dundee United presents itself tomorrow at East End Park. If hoodoos exist, for Dunfermline this is surely such a thing: an opponent who we consistently fail to defeat, including one game when we were awarded 3 penalties against them in the first half and missed them all. Logically, there is no reason we cannot defeat United: the gap between the teams could be narrowed to 4 points with a Dunfermline win, with United coming off a 6-1 loss to Falkirk - the team that the Pars defeated 2-0 just over a week ago.
Here is the current Championship table:
THE OPPOSITION: DUNDEE UNITED
Last 6 League results:
Pressure to gain promotion has been felt not only on the pitch but also in the Tannadice boardroom. Csaba Laszlo replaced former boss Ray McKinnon in November 2017, becoming United's third "permament" (if there is such a thing) manager since Jackie McNamara was sacked in September 2015, when the club were still in the top division. McNamara was followed by Mixu Paatelainen and then McKinnon. During that period, there were also 3 different temporary/stand-in managers, covering the job until the next future ex-boss was appointed. Laszlo will require promotion to be safe in the job past this summer. His job was not made easier by the loss of key midfielders Fraser Fyvie and Scott Fraser to injury that will likely sideline both players for the remainder of this season. Laszlo has added 3 new players to his squad during the current transfer window: 2 loans signings - left back Brandon Mason, from Watford, and midfielder Craig Slater, from Colchester; and Emil Lyng, a Danish winger, signed on a six month deal.
Some other facts about United this season:
Prior to their defeat at St Mirren on 29 December, United had won 6 and drawn 1 in a run of games going back to late October, after the sacking of Ray McKinnon. The first 2 wins in that sequence were under caretaker boss Laurie Ellis.
United have gathered 25 points at home as opposed to just 14 away from home, in the same number of games (10).
4 of their 5 League defeats have been in away games.
Last week's 6-1 defeat to Falkirk was the first time United had conceded 6 goals in a League game since August 2014, when they lost 6-1 to Celtic.
Last 6 League results:
Three consecutive wins have restored some confidence to the Pars team, after a poor run of results in the second quarter of the League campaign that included a 7 match period without a win. Manager Allan Johnston has seen new keeper Lee Robinson make a good start to his time at the club, with clean sheets in both his games so far. The introduction of Jean Yves M'Voto in central defence has also been positive. Big Jock, who has watched most of the season from the subs bench, replaced the suspended Callum Morris against Falkirk on 2 January and kept his place in the next game, the 1-0 win at Dumbarton last week, despite Morris being available again. It is encouraging to see AJ make such decisions: like many managers, he was guilty of keeping faith with "regulars" even when their form dipped. He has now shown that he will play players based on form rather than on reputation. The manager has also shifted from an over-reliance on a 4-4-2 formation, with last week's line-up shifting from 4-1-3-2 to 4-3-3 during the game, as it did during the Falkirk game a few days before.
Dunfermline's recent record against Dundee United is very poor, with just 1 win in the past 12 League and Cup games. That solitary win was back in 2011, so we are long overdue a victory. United will be aware of our goalscoring threat - Dunfermline are the division's second top scorers, and have scored in every home game this season.
Here are the outcomes of all matches between the teams during this decade:
As always on Pars Review, the lead-up to our next game began with the "Onto The Next One" feature, which was posted yesterday.The article goes into detail about the possible team formation, tactics 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:
Lee Robinson photo and Csaba Laszlo edit both by Pars Review.
Match report/option with photos will be posted here around 9.00pm tomorrow evening.