A first home game since January 26 sees Dunfermline play an Inverness side who have played just one League game, home and away, since the end of January. After another defeat at the weekend, any hope of the Pars achieving a play-off place hinges on winning 3 points tonight and on Saturday. Inverness, with games in hand, still have play-off ambitions of their own although it would require an excellent run of results for them to overtake the teams currently ahead of them in the table.
Here is the current Championship table:
THE OPPOSITION: INVERNESS
Last 6 League results:
A fixture pile-up, partly of their own making, awaits Inverness as they catch up on games postponed due to the weather and - at their request - to give them a free weekend ahead of an Irn Bru Cup game. That game was tonight's game against Dunfermline, originally scheduled for Saturday February 17. Inverness were to play in the Irn Bru Cup the next day, so understandably the original Pars fixture was cancelled. However, both teams had a free weekend on February 10 and Dunfermline asked Inverness to have the game played on that date. Rather than do so, Inverness prioritised their Irn Bru Cup semi final game against Crusaders (set for a whole 8 days later) and decided against playing, and to give more time to prepare for the cup game. So the DAFC/Inverness game was rearranged again, for last Tuesday. The subsequent postponement of that game due to weather conditions and the other weather-related cancellations Inverness have suffered must make them wonder if they were correct to elect for a free weekend a few weeks ago.
Having played just one Championship game in the past 45 days, it is difficult to evaluate any kind of "current form" where Inverness are concerned. One of the pre-season promotion favourites, they won just once in their opening nine Championship games but have improved over the course of the season, including achieving a club record of consecutive clean sheets. Consecutive defeats in their most recent 2 League games have not helped their promotion hopes and they will approach tonight's game needing a win every bit as much as Dunfermline.
Last 6 League results:
The great start to this season, which included a 5-1 home win in August against tonight's visitors, seems like a long time ago now, with Dunfermline winless since 6 January and having failed to score in the past 337 minutes of Championship games. The new players signed in January have not made any great impact, with the team's shape changing and less goals conceded but at the expense of scoring goals. The defeat at St Mirren on Saturday lead to chants aimed at manager Allan Johnston, after he made a substitution that he admitted himself was designed to keep the score down to 2-0.
Tonight's game is the definition of a "must win" although can we honestly believe that this team, and management, are capable of then stringing together a run of positive results?
Allan Johnston was not interviewed on camera before or after the St Mirren game, or (at the time of this article) before tonight's game. The club also failed to have Twitter updates at St Mirren or any Facebook post related to the game - was this to prevent fans' feedback, in the same way that they have disabled video comments on their YouTube videos lately? If there is another reason (lack of volunteers to do the media work?) then we have not been advised, so cannot be blamed for suspecting the above. This reflects how the season is regressing on the pitch - lack of communication and failing team spirit.
What we need to see tonight is a concerted effort by the players to take the game to the opposition and not allow any negative thinking from the dug-out to impact on their desire to win the game.
For tonight's game I would freshen up the team as per the graphic below.