Scottish Cup - Saturday 20/01/18 - East End Park - KO 3.00pm
50th anniversary Cup campaign begins against familiar opposition
After defeating Queen's Park in the last round of the Scottish Cup, Dunfermline's reward was a home tie against fellow-Championship club Morton. The teams have met twice this season already, and have a third League game scheduled in a fortnight. In that respect the cup draw was underwhelming, when it could have given us a money-spinning tie against Celtic, or an away day at a rarely-visited venue such as Brora, Cove, Formantine or Fraserburgh. The match-up does, however, give both sides a good chance of progressing to the next round, with the recent head to head record between the teams fairly even, as covered later in this article.
THE OPPOSITION: MORTON
Last 6 League results:
Familiar opponents over the past few years, this will be the 21st meeting with tomorrow's opponents since 2010. The current Championship table separates the clubs by 5 points (Dunfermline with 33, Morton 28) but with a game in hand, plus a League game against the Pars to come on 3rd February, Morton can still be contenders for a play-off position. Their recent form will have to improve if that is to happen, with only 1 win in their past 5 League games.
Manager Jim Duffy has been in charge at Morton since 2014 and has overseen a League 1 title win in 2015, consolidation in the Championship the following season, then securing a promotion play-off place last season. Although Morton were defeated in the play-off quarter finals, Duffy was shortlisted for SPFL Manager of the Year, and won the Championship Manager of the Season award.
During this month, Duffy has strengthened his squad with the loan signing of Frank Ross from Aberdeen. Luca Gasparotto's loan deal from Falkirk has now been confirmed as a permanent signing for Morton.
Some other facts about Morton this season:
They are unbeaten in their last 5 away games
They have scored in all of their last 8 away games
They have the best defensive record in the Championship
In League games this season, they have the same points home and away (14 points, 28 points in total)
Last 6 League results
Fifty years ago, on January 27 1968, Dunfermline faced a Scottish Cup tie at the home of the then-current European Cup holders, Celtic. The Pars won 2-0, the start of a journey that ended with a victory in the Final against Hearts and a second Scottish Cup win in 7 years. While we can dream of a repeat of that achievement this season, tomorrow's game, albeit not the most exciting match-up possible, is still a decent opportunity to progress into the next round. The Pars' home record this season gives confidence that a positive result can be achieved tomorrow, with 21 of our 33 Championship points gathered at home, plus a 100% record in the 3 League Cup and Challenge Cup games played at home this season.
Dunfermline have lost just 1 of the past 5 games against Morton - and that was the entirely avoidable 3-2 defeat at Cappielow this season. Overall, Morton have the slightly better record in meetings between the teams since 2010, largely due to results in the 2014/15 season.
Here are the outcomes of all matches between the teams during this decade:
James Craigen became Dunfermline's second signing of the January transfer window (after Lee Robinson) when he signed a contract to the end of the season this morning. The squad has needed more athleticism in central midfield for some time and Craigen will provide that, together with his obvious ability. My preferred line-up (below) sees Craigen come straight into the team at the expense of Dean Shiels.
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 (written before Craigen signed). Rather than repeat the content of that article, it can be read here.
Preferred starting 11, based on comments above:
Joe Cardle photo and Jim Duffy edit both by Pars Review.
Match report/option with photos will be posted here around 9.00pm tomorrow evening.