SPFL Championship - Tuesday 02/01/18 - East End Park - KO 7.45pm
Third League meeting of the season sees both sides looking for points for different reasons
One of only 2 true derbies in this season's Championship (the other, of course, being St Mirren and Morton), tomorrow's game at East End Park could provide a dramatic start to the new year. Both teams ended long winless runs in their last games - Dunfermline's win over Brechin was the first in 8 League games (4 defeats and 3 draws), while Falkirk's 3-2 victory over Queen of the South ended an 8 game period without a win. The Pars remain in fourth place in the table despite a disappointing second quarter of the season. For Falkirk, the next few weeks are about gathering enough points to get out of the relegation play-off position that they currently occupy.
Here is the current Championship table:
THE OPPOSITION: FALKIRK
Last 6 League results:
Falkirk have endured a miserable season to date, after being one of the pre-season promotion favourites yet unabale to record a first home victory until 2 days ago, when they defeated Queen of the South 3-2. Falkirk's only other win in the Championship this season was away to Morton. Coincidentally, both wins were achieved with veteran Alex Smith in the dug-out; the Morton game was his sole League match in charge as temporary manager, in between the sacking of Peter Houston and the appointment of Paul Hartley; he was then trackside again at the weekend in the absence of Hartley's assistant Jimmy Nicholl, who is set to join Rangers as assistant manager and who missed the win over Queens. Clearly, 77 year old Smith still has something to offer.
The long-rumoured clearout of the under-achieving Falkirk squad began last week when striker Nathan Austin left the club by mutual consent. Hartley is set, or at least would like to, have the same type of squad overhaul as carried out this time last year by St Mirren, which elevated the Paisley club from bottom of the division on 12 points to eventual end of season safety, and set them up for this season's table topping success. While Falkirk are not bottom of the league (thanks mainly to having winless Brechin in the division), they are only 2 points better off than St Mirren were last New Year, and occupy the relegation play-off position, 5 points adrift of 8th place Dumbarton.
Last 6 League results:
After a long overdue and much needed win in the last home game, against Brechin City 9 days ago, Dunfermline will go into tomorrow's derby with a 12 point advantage over Falkirk and having taken 4 points from 6 in the 2 League games between the teams so far this season. All of this should breed confidence, yet that is one key commodity that is lacking at the moment. Tomorrow gives everyone associated with the club a chance to start a new year with a morale boosting win. Let's see passion on the pitch and an ending to the blame culture that has spread around the stadium, from parts of the stands and into the dugout. If the team show fight, spirit and determination, the fans will respond positively - and as fans, let's get behind the team from kick-off and truly be the twelfth man.
The squad remains thin for numbers but Allan Johnston can still call on almost all of his regulars - the same players who had the team sitting at the top of the Championship in the early weeks of the season. The same team who defeated Falkirk in the League back in August. The same team that won 5 of the opening 7 Championship games, scoring 21 goals in the process. That team needs to turn up tomorrow.
Callum Morris will miss the game through suspension and is likely to be replaced by Jean Yves M'Voto.
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 and can be read here. The article goes into detail about the possible team formation and line up for the game.
Here is my preferred starting 11 for tomorrow's game:
Pars v Falkirk photo and Paul Hartley edit both by Pars Review.
Match report/option with photos will be posted here around 8.00pm tomorrow evening.