After the diversion of last week's memorable trip to Parkhead in the Betfred Cup, it's back to League business tomorrow for a Pars side looking for a first win in the 2019/20 Championship after draws in the opening 2 games. We face familiar foes Dundee United who are once again aiming for promotion back to the Premiership and who have started the League season with 2 wins.
Taking the lead in both League games but ultimately having to settle for a point in each game has given Dunfermline a solid start to the Championship season. We can claim with some justification that we were robbed of a win against Dundee in the opening game by a pair of contested penalty rewards that gave the opposition a pathway back into the game. This was followed by a strangely disjointed display in the next game, at Queen of the South a fortnight ago. The resilience shown in the mainly backs-to-the-wall game against Celtic will have given the players confidence but a different approach will be required against Dundee United. We will have more possession of the ball than against Celtic and despite our poor record against United (one win in the past 22 meetings), there will clearly be a far greater expectation of winning the game than we ever realistically expected last week.
Expectation should be tempered with realism that the players in the squad are still evolving, with several starters having played less than a dozen games, either in senior football (Stuart Morrison, Josh Coley plus most of the subs bench) or at Championship level (Aaron Comrie, Kevin Nisbet, Kyle Turner). Mixed in with the younger players are a group of players in the 23-26 year age bracket (Ryan Scully, Lee Ashcroft, Lewis Martin, Tom Beadling, Andy Ryan) plus ''older heads'' Ryan Dow (28) and captain Paul Paton (32). It's a good mix of players that also includes a promising crop of teenagers pressing for involvement, among them Matty Todd, Lewis McCann and Paul Allan. Add to that other players such as Danny Devine and Tom Lang, who due to injury (Devine) and the good form of others (Lang) have not featured in competitive action so far.
One player who will be missing tomorrow, and for the next 2 months, is centre half Euan Murray. The neck injury he sustained in the final seconds of the game against Queen of the South will require time to heal and although he will be missed, central defence is an area of the team where we have several options.
Most of the current starting 11 selects itself but manager Stevie Crawford will have a decision on who to play alongside Kevin Nisbet - either Andy Ryan in a 4-4-2 or Kyle Turner playing just behind the main striker in a 4-4-1-1 formation. In left midfield, Josh Coley could replace Josh Edwards in a more attacking set-up, with Edwards are more defensive-minded player which suited the type of game we faced at Parkhead.
Possible starting line-up: