Dunfermline travel up the Angus coast tomorrow in the fourth week of games of this season's Championship, looking for a first League win of the campaign. Opponents Arbroath, newly-promototed and managed by former Pars player, coach and manager Dick Campbell, have started the season well. Rated favourites for relegation before a ball was kicked, they have collected 4 points from their opening 3 games, including an important win last weekend at Alloa.
Here is the Championship table; this evening, Inverness play Morton and the Dundee derby takes place at Tannadice. Tomorrow's games see Partick host Ayr United and Queen of the South take on Alloa, in addition to the Pars' trip to Gayfield.
After winning the Betfred Cup group, and an encouraging display in the opening League game against Dundee, Dunfermline then took deserved credit for the defensive resilience shown in the narrow loss to Celtic at Parkhead in the last 16 of the Betfred competition. Prior to and following the game at Celtic Park were a pair of League games that saw the team fail to capture anything like the free-flowing form that they have shown they are capable of in other matches: a draw at Queen of the South and the disappointing nature of last week's home loss to Dundee United when, despite the good play of the opposition, Dunfermline rarely posed any real attacking threat, eventually going down 2-0.
Tomorrow's game is against one of only 2 part time sides in the division but will not be any less of a challenge than other fixtures against full-time outfits. Dick Campbell, the oldest manager in the 4 SPFL divisions, has retained the nucleus of the team who he guided to both the 2016/17 League 2 title and last season's runaway League 1 title.
The Dunfermline squad for tomorrow's match will be along familiar lines. No new faces have yet been drafted in - with the transfer window closing soon, there is still no sign of the winger we were said to be interested in several weeks ago. The trialist winger from Wednesday's Fife Cup reserve team win, 18 year old Vinnie Steels, did well and may yet join up to challenge for a first team place, but there is still a need to add more quality and experience to the squad, to supplement the mainly youthful core of the first team pool of players.
As has been the case in all games this season, Stevie Crawford has to decide whether to go with 2 strikers up front - Kevin Nisbet and Andy Ryan - or play Nisbet plus Kyle Turner in a 4-4-1-1 formation, Turner playing behind rather than alongside the main striker. There are other options - the second half of last week's game against Dundee United saw Dunfermline line up in a 4-3-3 formation, which allowed Turner to be played in the left of the midfield 3. We must find a way to accomodate Turner's talents in the starting line up - a substitute last week, he is simply too good a player to be benched, and has been utilised in different positions during his appearances either from the start or from the bench this season.
The other main selection question for tomorrow is in central defence, where fit-again Danny Devine could replace Stuart Morrison. With Euan Murray out for at least another 6 weeks, Devine's experience could be useful, after the defence looked particularly vulnerable in the United game. Tom Lang is also available as a central defensive option.
Possible Pars line-up for tomorrow's match: