Ninth plays fourth in tomorrow's Championship match at the Indodrill Stadium, Alloa. Both teams have much to play for as the final quarter begins this weekend.
Here is the current Championship table; Falkirk play Ayr United this evening:
Dunfermline team news, selection & preferred lineup
Four consecutive wins, all with clean sheets, have lifted Dunfermline from seventh to fourth in what is a tight, competitive division, with many teams still involved - potentially or actively - in aiming for a promotion play off place while not yet safe from the other set of play-offs at the wrong end of the table. Manager Stevie Crawford, who this week was named Championship Manager of the Month for February, has taken the squad he inherited in January, added Ryan Scully, Ryan Blair and Bruce Anderson, and together with his assistants Greg Shields and Callum Davidson, made the team a far more solid unit. If the football hasn't been scintillating, then the results have been very impressive, and ultimately that is all that matters, particularly in the situation Dunfermline were in after Allan Johnston's sacking.
The narrowness of Alloa's pitch should not be an issue for Dunfermline this weekend. We have largely played without much width for the past few weeks, with the exception of occasional overlapping runs from Ryan Williamson. Our midfield, whether in a diamond formation or in the shape in the graphic below, has been compact and has restricted opposing teams from having space in the middle of the pitch. This has taken some pressure off our defence, who have been steady and no-nonsense, clearly intent on having no repeat of previous blunders.
The return to fitness of Jackson Longridge could see him restored to the starting 11 at Alloa, with James Craigen - who had filled in at left back in the past 3 games to great effect - shifting back to right back. In midfield, James Vincent is now recovered from the injury which caused him to miss the past 2 games. I would select Vincent in the defensive midfield role that he is most suited to. Tom Beadling would then move to the right of a 3 man centre midfield, with Kallum Higginbotham dropping to the bench. Aidan Connolly will miss tomorrow's game through injury and so Louis Longridge, a substitute last week, will probably start up front, playing behind Bruce Anderson.
Preferred starting 11, in a 4-1-3-1-1 formation:
The Wasps have proved to be difficult opponents for Dunfermline this season, knocking the Pars out of the Irn Bru Cup in a penalty shoot-out after a draw over 90 minutes. They have also recorded two further draws at East End Park in the League - the second of which, in January, lead to Allan Johnston being sacked following a last minute Alloa equaliser. The only game between the sides at Alloa's ground saw Dunfermline win 1-0 thanks to Jackson Longridge's thunderous strike.
The main threat to Dunfermline's defence tomorrow will come from veteran attacking midfielder Alan Trouten, who has scored 4 times against us this season. Trouten has an impressive total of 155 career goals, including 17 in 34 appearances this season.
The Wasps' win last time out at Queen of the South ended a run of 4 consecutive defeats; prior to that disappointing period, they had gone six games undefeated in the Championship. Manager Jim Goodwin had this to say when he spoke to the media this week:
''They are all massive games from now until the end of the season. Dunfermline are one of the form teams in the league and will come into the game with confidence.
''We now have ten cup finals to play for and just need to pick up as many wins as we can to keep ourselves in the league. We will still try to make it to fifth place as there is not a lot between the teams.
"Dunfermline have shown what can happen if you can find a bit of form. We want to build on an excellent performance in Dumfries and see how high that can take us up the table''
Match odds (McBookie):