Back to League action and a trip to Dumfries; some important players also available again
SPFL Championship - Saturday 14 October 2017 - Palmerston Park - KO 3.00pm
After last week's almost unwanted distraction in the Challenge Cup, tomorrow sees the first League game of the month take place against Queen of the South. Dunfermline have now suffered 2 consecutive defeats, in League and Cup, but with the return of key players who were unavailable last week, we go into tomorrow's game against perennial mid-table Queens with a degree of confidence and with greater expectations than last week.
Dunfermline are 3rd in the Championship table, with hosts Queens in fifth position.
Here is the current Championship table:
THE OPPOSITION: QUEEN OF THE SOUTH
2017/18 League record:
After a promising start to the Championship campaign, Queens have now gone 4 League games without a win and sit in a familiar mid table position. Leading scorer, Stephen Dobbie, has played in all but one of his team's League games this season, but has scored in just one of his 7 games - albeit, that was a hat trick in the impressive 4-1 away win at Falkirk in August. Dobbie's 11 goals this season have mostly come in the League Cup and Irn Bru Cup, including 2 in Queens' game last weekend, the 3-1 win at Montrose in the Irn Bru Cup. Derek Lyle, Dobbie's fellow veteran, was awarded a testimonial match during the summer (despite only having been at Queens for 5 years) and is still part of the first team squad, scoring 6 goals so far this season.
Other well known faces in the squad include ex-Pars Callum Fordyce and Shaun Rooney and former Scotland striker James McFadden. It is good to see Dycey playing regularly after signing for Queens in the summer. His Pars career was badly disrupted by injury but he remains a talented defender and a popular figure.
The Pars travel to Dumfries eager to recapture the form that swept aside teams including Inverness, St Mirren and Falkirk in earlier League games. The previous League game, at home to Dundee United, was a huge disappointment and saw Dunfermline lose top position in the division after suffering a 3-1 defeat. Last week we were without several first team players at Falkirk in the Challenge Cup but the performance was still well below the standards the team have set this season.
The injury to Joe Cardle in mid September saw David Hopkirk given an opportunity to make the left wing position his for at least the period of Cardle's absence. This lasted all of 2 games until Hopkirk sustained yet another injury, and saw the team lose its only other natural left wing option. Such is Allan Johnston's love of 4-4-2, Declan McManus has been played on the left wing since Hopkirk's last involvement. This is a case of putting square pegs in round holes and with the personnel available, the formation should be changed to 4-3-3. The only option to retain 4-4-2 is to play Fraser Aird on the right wing and move Kallum Higginbotham to left wing. However, this would mean splitting up the right sided partnership of Ryan Williamson (who missed the Falkirk game last week) and Higginbotham, which has combined to great effect this season. So I have gone with 4-3-3 as seen in the graphic below.
Williamson will slot back in at right back, with Callum Morris also returning to the team. Dean Shiels is suspended, and Michael Paton still injured. Losing Cardle and Shiels has had a significant impact on team selection, which highlights the threadbare nature of the squad. We have a very good first 11 but lack strength in depth, both in quality and generally in numbers in certain areas of the team.
I have selected Nicky Clark and Callum Smith in a front 3 alongside McManus but would happily see Andy Ryan start the game in place of Clark. Clark has been ineffective in recent games and will be aware that there are good options on the bench to replace him.
Preferred starting 11, based on comments above:
Ryan Williamson photo plus Gary Naysmith edit both by Pars Review.
Match report/opinion with photos will be posted here around 10.00pm tomorrow evening.
For an alternate match preview, please check out Ben's DA Talk YouTube video (below, and also included in this site's Video Zone, which can be accessed on the front page or through the dropdown menu at the top of the page).