The biggest game of the season so far gives the Pars a chance to put down a real marker in the title race
SPFL Championship - Saturday 30 September 2017 - East End Park - KO 3.00pm
First plays third in tomorrow's Championship match at East End Park. Visitors United remain bookies' favourites to win the title although their odds have lengthened. The weight of expectation sits firmly on United's shoulders, with the highest wage bill in the division, a demanding fan base and a trigger-happy chairman all combining to make winning promotion essential for this season after the failure of 2016/17. This, of course, creates its own pressures. Meanwhile, there is a growing expectation among the Pars support as to how well their team can do this season, based on the fast-moving attacking play that has already seen off St Mirren, Falkirk and Inverness in home games.
Here is the top 6 in the current Championship table:
Despite being only 2 points behind Dunfermline, United have ground out victories in the League rather than won in style, evidenced by their total of 7 goals in 7 League games - 14 less than the Pars. Relegation-form goalscoring has been offset by a tight defence that has conceded just 6 goals (the same as Dunfermline). Ray McKinnon, United's third manager in the past 2 years, goes into the game with injury concerns over several key players. Paul Quinn, Tam Scobbie and Lewis Toshney are definitely out, while Paul McMullan, William Edjenguele and Patrick N'Koyi all missed training at the start of the week, but could be fit enough to feature tomorrow. On a more positive note, McKinnon has been happy with the partnership forming between 2 of his summer signings, strikers James Keatings and Scott McDonald, telling the Evening Telegraph that “we looked really threatening up top — having James Keatings and Scott McDonald playing together helps, they gave us a good partnership and focal point of the team.”
After the second half collapse at Cappielow 3 weeks ago, Dunfermline have bounced back in style, winning the following 2 League games 3-0. The team can use the Morton experience as a guard against slackness - eliminate needless errors and this team are good enough to win the Championship if injuries to key players can be avoided. Already missing talisman Joe Cardle, the team's other main creative spark, Kallum Higginbotham, has been in superb form, linking up to great effect on the right side of the pitch with Ryan Williamson.
There will be no change to tomorrow's line-up. David Hopkirk will continue on the left wing in Cardle's absence. Hoppy has played well recently and has the ability to hurt the United defence, who will also be aware of the threat of Declan McManus and Nicky Clark, with Andy Ryan and Callum Smith as excellent options from the bench.
Tomorrow has the potential to be a day to remember.
Declan McManus photo plus Ray McKinnon edit both by Pars Review.
Match report/opinion with photos will be posted here around 9.00pm tomorrow evening.
For an alternate match preview, please check out Ben's DA Talk YouTube video (below, and also included in this site's Video Zone, which can be accessed on the front page or through the dropdown menu at the top of the page).