The road to Hampden starts at..... Hampden
Scottish Cup - Saturday 18 November 2017 - Hampden Park - KO 3.00pm
Dunfermline, who are the Championship's highest goalscorers and who also have the joint best defensive record in the division, travel to meet the team who have scored least goals in League 1 and who (along with Albion Rovers) have conceded most goals in the third tier this season. Betting odds on the game reflect those numbers, with Dunfermline 1/3 and 1/4 with many bookies and Queen's Park priced at 8/1.
The Scottish Cup will be much more of a priority than the recent Irn Bru Cup in terms of team selection and so a strong Pars side will line up against a home side that includes former Dunfermline defender Ross Millen, and are managed by ex-Par Gus MacPherson.
THE OPPOSITION: QUEEN'S PARK
Last 8 League games:
After finishing a creditable 6th in League 1 last season, Queen's Park have yet to find the same form this term. As noted above, they are struggling with scoring and conceding goals, winning only 2 of their 13 League games, with both victories coming away from home.
Queen's Park last faced Dunfermline as recently as last season, at East End Park in the Irn Bru Cup, with the Pars winning 2-1, a game that saw Farid El Alagui score all 3 goals for a unique type of "hat trick". It was a game best described as stodgy and it is to be hoped that tomorrow's 90 minutes at Hampden will be more entertaining.
Looking ahead to the game, Gus MacPherson had this to say about his team: "No one can question their application, it's decision making that is the critical part, in both penalty boxes. We need to be more ruthless." MacPherson will be without the suspended duo of captain Michael Burns and midfielder Anton Brady and has other players struggling for fitness, commenting that "we are down to bare bones and we'll see who we have available".
Last 8 League games:
After the departure of David Hopkirk and with Conner Duthie joining Scott Lochhead on loan at Forfar, Dunfermline's first team squad is light on numbers and will be utilised over the next week, when the team play 3 games. There are currently 19 players available to Allan Johnston - enough to field a team and fill the subs bench, and have one extra body. This means that on Tuesday when Dunfermline play Morton, without the suspended Declan McManus and Kallum Higginbotham, the subs bench will not be full. Five younger players are out on loan (Conner Duthie, Scott Lochhead, Stuart Morrison, Brandon Luke and Paul Allan), and it would not be a surprise to find at least one recalled in the near future.
Onto tomorrow and the Cup game at Hampden - a strong team will be fielded and will almost certainly include the above 2 players, with others replacing them on Tuesday. With no known injuries, I would keep the same team that started against Falkirk but with Andy Ryan in place of Nicky Clark. This is not out of any intense dislike of Clark but with no Pars striker having scored a goal since Callum Smith's header against Dundee United on September 30, something has to change, and Ryan has to be given a chance. He has been under used since joining the club and is long overdue a start - and given the manager's patience with others, not just one game and back on the bench.
Preferred starting 11, based on comments above:
Andy Ryan photo and Gus MacPherson edit both by Pars Review.
Match report/option with photos will be posted here around 9.00pm tomorrow evening.