Sunday's victory at Dundee has put Dunfermline in pole position to win Group D of this season's Betfred Cup, with a further 2 games remaining. Next up is a trip that has become very familiar over the past few seasons, to the hedge at Glebe Park, against a Brechin team who have made a good start in the group, securing 4 points from their 2 games to date. Allan Johnston has emphasised the need to approach every game with the same professionalism and attitude as his team showed at Dens Park. There have been enough warnings against complacency in the Betfred competition already this month: supposed "bigger" teams struggling against less fancied opposition (Falkirk losing at home to Montrose, Hamilton defeated by Annan, Motherwell drawing at Stranraer, Dundee United drawing both home games against Arbroath and Alloa, and losing both penalty shoot outs for a bonus point, and so on).
Here is the group table after 2 games:
The win at Dens Park will have given the new-look Dunfermline team belief in themselves and will hopefully act as a catalyst for the remainder of the games in the group and - more importantly - the start of the Championship campaign a week on Saturday. Continuing with the 3-5-2 formation that he has favoured since the start of pre-season, Allan Johnston has put together a squad that has competition in all areas and also has the boost of players such as Faissal El Bakhtaoui, James Vincent and Tom Beadling all due to return soon after injury. Sean Murdoch also continues his recovery from a longer-term injury.
The performance at Dundee was one of the Pars' most impressive away displays in recent years, with the defence adopting a no-nonsense policy of clearing the ball at any opportunity, while the wingbacks were effective in attack, creating (Ryan Williamson) and scoring (Jackson Longridge) the game's only goal. In midfield, James Craigen had his best game for Dunfermline, and it was only up front that was lacking, with several chances created but not converted into goals.
Pars fans may see Faissal in action tomorrow for the first time since he rejoined the club, along with James Vincent, who has made just one substitute appearance during pre-season. Three points are expected but will have to be worked for.
After a truly miserable 2017/18 season, failing to win a single League game, Brechin manager Darren Dods will have taken heart from his team's unbeaten start to the Betfred Cup. Adding 8 players to his squad, which has compensated for the loss of stalwarts including goalkeeper Graeme Smith, Dods will once again be aiming for promotion from League 1, while building the nucleus of a squad that would be much better prepared for life in the division above.
Before the start of the Betfred competition, Dods had this to say about the season ahead:
“We know last season was a difficult and disappointing one, however that is gone now. We have changed the squad a bit as well and that has helped bring a freshness in. We cannot wait to get going again as well as what is done is done.”