Fifth plays tenth in tomorrow's Championship match at East End Park, with Dunfermline looking for a third consecutive win and visitors Thistle aiming to recover from a second half collapse against Ross County at the weekend. The division is so tight that 3 points for either team could be hugely significant come the end of the season, as we approach the final quarter with only 6 points separating 6 clubs.
Here is the current Championship table:
Dunfermline team news, selection & preferred lineup
Six points and two clean sheets from games against Inverness and Ayr United is a superb return for Stevie Crawford's Dunfermline. Backbone has now been added to the team's performances, built on a solid defence that takes no risks and has been able to avoid the type of needless errors that blighted much of our season. New coach Callum Davidson, interviewed soon after joining the club 2 weeks ago, said that he had told several of the team's more senior players - naming them as Lee Ashcroft, Danny Devine and James Craigen - that they had to show more leadership on the pitch. That was evident at Ayr on Saturday, with Devine in particular very vocal and driving the team on in difficult weather conditions against opponents currently second in the division.
There is clearly no need to change much, if anything, about the team or the formation for tomorrow's game. Jackson Longridge's fitness must still be in question after pulling out of the lineup during the pre-match warm up at Somerset Park. James Craigen could continue at leftback - his versatility is a great benefit to the team - while in midfield I would move James Vincent to the defensive end of the diamond. Vincent was used as the attacking tip of the diamond on Saturday but has little instinct to attack, and is better utilised as a defensive midfielder. Joe Thomson would seem to be the best option in the attacking role, with Vincent as DM, and Tom Beadling and Ryan Blair in the middle.
Up front, it could be time for Louis Longridge to start after two appearances from the bench following his 4 month injury absence. I would have no issue with Aidan Connolly continuing in attack if Longridge is not quick ready to start a game.
A win tomorrow could put the Pars within 2 points of fourth place Inverness. It was at this point last season that the team began an unbeaten run that pushed them into the promotion play-offs and a repeat of that this season is entirely possible if their current form and apparent resurgence in self-belief can be maintained.
Preferred starting 11:
The wheels came off Partick's recent upturn in form on Saturday when, 2-0 up at half time at home to Ross County, they conceded 4 second half goals to find themselves once again at the bottom of the division, although still within touching distance of the clubs immediately above them. Their January recruitment brought in 8 new players to the club, including ex-Pars winger Joe Cardle, who after making a bright start to his Thistle career with 2 goals in his first 4 appearances, suffered an injury and has missed the past 4 games.
Thistle went into their game at the weekend on a 6 game unbeaten run but after starting promisingly, with first half goals from Aidan Fitzpatrick and Christie Elliott, lost a goal 2 minutes after the re-start and went onto lose a further 3 goals to the Championship leaders. Thistle defender Steven Anderson had this to say after the game:''It’s not good enough. We should see the game out, simple as that. Professionals should know how to see games out. We were good first half and we get that but we need to be cute during games.
''We need to be nasty, really, and if they’re on top we need to slow it down and understand that putting in a challenge will get us up the park. The pressure was there and we couldn’t deal with it. It’s not good enough. We were just soft.''
Match odds (McBookie):
Partick Thistle 14/5