Competitive action kicks off at EEP tomorrow evening when Dunfermline take on Peterhead in the Betfred (League) Cup group stage. With 4 group fixtures spread over 5 scheduled sets of dates, the Pars sat out the weekend's games, just as visitors Peterhead will not be active on 28 July, the fifth and final date for group games to be played. The early start for the Betfred Cup has been criticised by some managers including Kilmarnock's Steve Clarke. With playing squads still being formed and fitness still being worked on, the competition is often seen as an extension to pre-season friendlies. Perhaps it would have been better advised to have held the Irn Bru Challenge Cup first and then introduced the League Cup to the fixture list around September, given the League Cup's greater importance.
This is the second consecutive season that Dunfermline and Peterhead have been placed in the same Betfred Cup group. Last season, the Pars won 5-1 at EEP.
Dunfermline's pre-season was successful in terms of giving almost all of the squad games and also bringing in some youth team players who did not look out place among their more senior colleagues. Certain players have yet to feature: in Tom Beadling's case due to injury and Faissal El Bakhtaoui and Myles Hipployte only joining a few days ago and so unable to have played in the first team warm-up games. James Vincent has also made just one substitute appearance. In this respect, the Betfred Cup will be used as an opportunity to give players more game time before the League campaign begins on 4 August.
The Pars are clear favourites to win tomorrow evening but as we saw at the weekend (Falkirk losing at home to Montrose, Hamilton suffering a defeat at Annan and Dundee United drawing at home to Arbroath before losing a penalty shootout for a bonus point) nothing can be taken for granted. If we are to progress to the next round, our game at Dundee next Sunday will be vital but 3 points will also be essential against lower league opposition.
Peterhead's opening Betfred Cup game ended in a goalless draw at Brechin. The bonus point went to Peterhead, winning the penalty shoot out 5-4. The game itself was far from a classic, going by comments made by both managers. Peterhead boss Jim McInally then looked forward to visiting EEP, saying: "This cup’s got to be treated by part-time teams as still your pre-season. Dunfermline haven’t played on Saturday, which is not great for us as it leaves them fresh for tomorrow. They’ll pass the ball round us and we’ll have to work. You see how tired we were on Saturday – we’ll be a lot more tired tomorrow.
“We went there last year and lost 5-1, but we actually played quite well. Hopefully the score’s not as bad this time. We will try to win.”