The first quarter of the Championship season ends tomorrow with all teams having faced each other once by the final whistle of Saturday's games. Ayr United sit level on poiints with Dundee United at the top of the table, having coped with the loss of their outstanding goalscorer Lawrence Shankland this summer. Ayr also lost manager Ian McCall last month, to bottom of the table Partick Thistle. Still to appoint a permanent replacement for McCall, Ayr travel to Fife to face a Dunfermline side without a home win in the League since March.
Here is the current Championship table:
If there are any positives to be taken from a start to the season that has yielded just one League victory, it is that Dunfermline go into tomorrow's match unbeaten in 3 games, looking to be more ruthless when given the opportunities to win matches. Even though the Pars' last game, 2 weeks ago in Greenock, was an awful match to watch, 3 points should have been secured after going ahead in the 87th minute, only for the team to lose an equaliser deep into stoppage time. There is little point a fortnight later in concentrating on the poor performance level - as fans, we can only hope that the work done on the training ground will pay off on the pitch this weekend, with a vastly improved display, accompanied by a long overdue home win.
The team have shown patches of decent form this season, mainly in cup competitions. There is talent there, but it must be managed and moulded into a more effective unit. Points are all important, especially for a Dunfermline side who currently occupy the relegation play-off position, but to encourage fans back to games, particularly at home, the product must also be worth watching.
Injuries will once again curtail manager Stevie Crawford's team selection for the game tomorrow. Central defenders Euan Murray and Tom Lang are definitely out, with Lang closest to making a return. Long term absentee Joe Thomson has returned to training but will obviously need game time in the reserves before being flung back into the first team, as welcome as his return will be. Paul Paton is also training and likely to return after missing the last 2 games. Lewis McCann's hand injury, which required stitches, flared back up last week and he may not be risked tomorrow.
As for the staring lineup, I feel it is imperative that the team has 2 up front: Kevin Nisbet has struggled as a lone striker in various formations. The introduction of Andy Ryan from the bench against Morton saw Ryan put Nisbet through on goal, and later get the opening goal. I would also select Paton if he is fit enough to play at the expense of Harry Cochrane.