Fourth plays second in tomorrow's Championship match at East End Park. As unlikely as it may have seemed 5 weeks ago, Dunfermline have the chance to move within 3 points of visitors United with a victory, and possibly draw level on points with Ayr United. The Pars will look to record a first home win over United since 2007.
Here is the current Championship table; Inverness play leaders Ross County this evening.
Dunfermline team news, selection & preferred lineup
Last week's win at Alloa was the Pars' fifth consecutive win, all of which have come with clean sheets, closing in on a club record. Four of those wins have been with a 1-0 scoreline, with what has been perhaps lacking in excitement being more than made up for by a collective drive and togetherness in the team to secure the win and then move onto the next game. Manager Stevie Crawford has made this game-by-game approach clear: not looking too far ahead, preferring to concentrate on catching the team above us, which started over a month ago when Morton were our target. Since then, we have also by-passed Queen of the South and Inverness, although the latter have a game in hand.
Missing through injury tomorrow will be Andy Ryan, Aidan Connolly and Lewis Martin, while Faissal El Bakhtaoui has returned to training but may not quite be ready to take part. Despite our run of excellent results, Bruce Anderson has often been isolated up front, and Faissal's eventual return should boost the team, as there was a clear understanding between the pair in the hour that they played together against Ross County last month.
In terms of team selection, I would revert to the team lineup I suggested last week, which involved James Vincent coming back into the starting lineup at the expense of Kallum Higginbotham. Higgy has worked hard but is not delivering goals or assists. Vincent would solidify the midfield further, which could be an important factor against one of our most difficult opponents.
Preferred lineup, in a 4-1-3-1-1 formation:
After signing virtually a whole new team during the January transfer window, Dundee United went on a 4 game unbeaten run during February, before being knocked out of the Scottish Cup (a home defeat by Inverness) and then last week's loss to Partick Thistle in the Championship. They now sit 9 points behind leaders Ross County - who play this evening, a chance to extend their lead to 12 points - and look set for another attempt at returning to the top division via the promotion play-offs.
Manager Robbie Neilson spoke to the media during the week:
“We need to try to build momentum. We can’t give up. We’ve still got to play them (Ross County) twice so there’s still an opportunity to put pressure on them.
“We just need to get ourselves going. It was a tough, tough game on Saturday but we created chances, it’s just in those pressure games we need to make sure we do the right things and get results.
“Like the fans will be, we’re bitterly disappointed because it was an opportunity, we had chances, we get back in the game and we get the goal. We had three or four really good chances to score but we didn’t take them and they go up the other end and get the goal and it kills you but we have to keep trying to move forward.
“The boys are focused on Dunfermline, who are on a fantastic run.”
Match odds (McBookie):
Dundee United 17/10