Tenth plays seventh in this weekend's Championship fixture at the Falkirk Stadium. The home side have been in the bottom 2 positions since almost the first week of the season, while Dunfermline are the definition of inconsistency.
Here is the current Championship table:
Lose, lose, draw, win; lose, lose, win, lose, draw, draw. That's the Pars' sequence of results in the League since mid October, and typifies the inability of the team to put together anything close to a run of positive results. As a consequence, we are in seventh place, almost the same number of points from the edge of the top 4 as we are from the relegation positions. The last two games in which we played the teams then at the foot of the table (Falkirk and Partick Thistle) we lost, but on a more positive note we go into tomorrow's game looking for a third consecutive win at Falkirk, after victories at the home of our rivals in April and October this year - which ended a 7 year wait for a win away against the Bairns.
The last time the teams met, on the 10th of November at East End Park, Falkirk won 1-0 for what must be the worst result of our season so far. Falkirk have yet to win a League game at home this season. That win simply cannot come this weekend. It is crucial for our season to win this game. Failure to do so will see morale plummet to a new low. We must win.
Team, formation etc
Injured: Louis Longridge, Andy Ryan, Aidan Connolly
With Andy Ryan becoming the latest Pars player to require an operation this season, options up front - by far the weakest area of the team - are limited. The defence could see the return of Ryan Williamson, who was injured last week. I would expect to see the same line up in defence and midfield as last week. In attack, changes could be made but the options only highlight how important the January transfer window will be.
Formation: the 4-3-3 used during last week's second half could be worth trying again, with Kallum Higginbotham on the left of the front 3.
My preferred lineup:
Falkirk's season has been a continuous struggle before and after the sacking of manager Paul Hartley at the end of August. His replacement, Ray McKinnon, has been pragmatic in his approach, making it clear that he is trying to grind out results with the players at his disposal. No doubt we will see much activity at Falkirk over the next month. Former Scotland fullback Paul Dixon has signed a contract that will begin on 1st January and there will be more to follow. In the lead up to this weekend's game, McKinnon had this to say:
"If we can get the pieces of the puzzle in January, we'll definitely play a different system. We have pace and energy in the current squad but we need to mix that with different players who can hold the ball and also attack on the wing. We're playing with spirit, we're organised and we go into the game full of optimism."