Two clubs with different pre-season expectations play each other tomorrow with only 1 League place separating an under-performing Dunfermline side from visitors Alloa, the Championship's only part-time team. After a winless run of games, tomorrow represents a must-win for Allan Johnston.
Here is the current Championship table:
No wins since the opening day of the League season and the country's second worst goals against record: the past month has been a huge disappointment for all concerned with Dunfermline. Shipping goals to opposing teams who have not had to play particularly well has been a recurrent theme. A first clean sheet in 8 games (League and Cups) and a penalty shoot out win in last weekend's goalless draw at Boreham Wood in the Irn Bru Cup could not disguise the lack of quality football being played during the 90 minutes. The early League Cup performances hinted at a bright season ahead, and it is that type of form that must be recaptured, starting this weekend.
The team formation reverted to 4-4-2 last Saturday but as Allan Johnston admitted, that was mainly due to lack of central defenders to play the familiar 3-5-2. The manager has 2 centre halves available to him - unless Danny Devine recovers from injury - with Lewis Martin and Stuart Morrison (injured in last week's pre-match warm up) also unfit. So expect 4-4-2 tomorrow, but with no Kallum Higginbotham, out for a few weeks after a groin operation this week.
Here is my preferred Pars line-up; lack of options in central defence means the only 2 fit centre halves must play; I have selected Myles Hippolyte on the right wing to replace the injured Higginbotham:
No League victories but proving a hard team to beat, Alloa have made a decent start to their season, with draws against Inverness and Dundee United. As Brechin City found out last season, getting that elusive first win is all important but I do not expect Alloa to be "this season's Brechin".
Alloa boss Jim Goodwin guided his team to promotion through the play-offs at the end of last season and had this to say about his team in the build up to tomorrow's game:
“The character is there and that’s brilliant but we can’t keep going a goal behind and relying on coming back. We need to be a bit more clinical in the final third. There were plenty of positives, but we do need to start taking our chances.
“We are creating chances, there’s no doubt about it. The likes of Greig Spence and Dario Zanatta just need to get up and running and then we’ll be fine. It would be a lot worse if we weren’t creating the chances.”