Third place Dunfermline travel to Falkirk with the home side still clinging onto faint promotion play-off hopes. Both teams are on unbeaten runs and with plenty to play for, in addition to the usual derby atmosphere, there is potential for a memorable match. Dunfermline are aiming to end a 7 year wait for a victory at the Falkirk Stadium. In the Pars' title winning season of 2010/11, Dunfermline defeated Falkirk 3 times and drew the other game. Between seasons 2012/13 and 2016/17, Falkirk were unbeaten in 10 games against Dunfermline but the 4 matches between the teams this season have seen Allan Johnston's team win twice at EEP and draw at Falkirk in the Championship and lose once, in an Irn Bru Cup game.
Here is the current Championship table:
THE OPPOSITION: FALKIRK
Last 6 League results:
Falkirk remain in 8th place in the Championship despite a huge improvement in results in the second half of the season, including their current 7 match unbeaten run. Manager Paul Hartley has almost repeated the story of St Mirren boss Jack Ross from 12 months before - taking over a struggling side, not achieving instant success, then having a clear-out in the January transfer window which saw the team's fortunes improve. Falkirk brought in 7 players in January including 3 loan signings and extended the existing loan of another (Reghan Tumilty). They have lost just once since mid-January and pulled away from ninth place Dumbarton, who at one point were ahead of Falkirk but who are now 11 points behind.
Paul Hartley has, not surprisingly, been full of praise for his team's displays, commenting after his team's draw at Queen of the South: ""We're trying to get as many points as we can - we've had a really good 2018. We remain positive. We are 7 undefeated and we have another really big game on Saturday and it's one that hopefully we can win. It's a big game, a derby, Dunfermline are going well, we've been strong at home and we expect a big crowd. Hopefully we can give our supporters a performance to remember."
Last 6 League results:
After Tuesday's excellent and hard-fought win over Livingston, who had been on an 11 game unbeaten run prior to the match, tomorrow's derby gives Dunfermline a chance to gain 3 points that would go a long way to remaining in the top 4 and also end any lingering hopes Falkirk had of creeping into the play-off places after their games in hand have been played. A win at Falkirk is long overdue and while the Bairns are a different team in terms of personnel and form compared to their line-ups in their defeats at EEP this season, so too are the Pars: the January signings have freshened up a Dunfermline team that was sliding down the table and who are currently on their longest unbeaten run of the season.
The team for tomorrow's game will almost certainly remain unchanged from the win over Livi, with Allan Johnston favouring continuity of selection and every player making a contribution on Tuesday evening. Even possible returns from injury by Joe Cardle, James Vincent and Jean Yves M'Voto will, at most, see changes to the subs bench. All 3 players have trained this week and will provide additional competition for places. Had it been possible to begin the season with this squad, I am confident that a sustained title challenge could have been made. Their efforts over the past few weeks, peaking with the will-to-win showed against Livi, deserve to see them be involved in the play-offs.
A big Pars support will make the short trip through to Falkirk and will hope for a first victory there since Jim McIntyre led the Pars to the top division, in a team inspired by Martin Hardie. A new hero can emerge tomorrow with a match winning goal that would be recalled as fondly as Hardie's second goal against the Wee Team in 2011. Let's all get behind the team for our biggest game of the season and leave with a win that we are more than capable of achieving.
Match report/opinion will be posted tomorrow evening at around 9pm