Scottish Championship - Tuesday 07/03/17 - KO 7.45pm - East End Park
Odds (Ladbrokes): Dunfermline 23/20; Draw 23/10; Queen of the South 23/10
Tomorrow evening's game features two teams who both had aspirations, however realistic, of a top 4 place this season, although in Dunfermline's case, consolidation was a more than acceptable alternative. Fifth and sixth, the positions Queens and the Pars currently occupy, are the positions both these teams could expect to fill at the end of the season, with the gap to the top 4 possibly being too wide, and with enough quality in both squads to both move away from the bottom 4 clubs.
Our opponents -
Queen of the South
Last five outings:
4 March - Championship - Lost 2-0 v Falkirk (H)
25 February - Championship - Won 2-1 v Raith Rovers (H)
18 February - Challenge Cup - Lost 3-2 v Dundee United (H)
4 February - Championship - Won 3-0 v Morton (H)
28 January - Championship - Lost 1-0 v Hibs (H)
Queens have had a season of contrasting form; having won 5 and drawn 3 of the opening 8 League games, and topping the table, they then endured a run of 11 games without a win (a period that included 7 straight defeats), before a recent improved spell of 4 wins, 1 draw and 2 defeats in the past 7 League games. Manager James Fowler was sacked during the run of defeats, and his replacement, Gary Naysmith, brought in 4 players during the January transfer window - John Rankin, ex-Par Scott Mercer, Dom Thomas and Joe Thomson, all of whom have helped the club to reverse the decline in results from the autumn and early winter months.
Now in his second period as a Queen of the South player, 34 year old striker Stephen Dobbie has 19 goals this season. In his first period at the club, he scored 54 goals in 97 games, which won him a move to England where he played in the Premier League for Swansea. Earlier in his career, he had been signed by Rangers but left without making a first team appearance. Further spells at Hibs, St Johnstone and Dumbarton produced 25 goals over 4 seasons, before the move to Queens ignited his career. Amongst other clubs, he played Championship football for Blackpool and Crystal Palace during his 8 years in English football.
33% of Queens' away games have resulted in a minimum of 4 goals scored, for and against. Only 1 of their away games has been goalless.
Queens have failed to score in 10 League games - only Raith Rovers have a worse record in the Championship this season.
In the dugout
Appointed Queens manager on 1 December 2016 after a successful first managerial post at East Fife, who he led to the League 2 title last season. Naysmith, who was a full-back, enjoyed a 16-year playing career, beginning at Hearts in 1996. He made 121 appearances for Hearts before moving to Everton in 2001, playing 155 times for the Goodison Park club. He then joined Sheffield United, making 88 appearances, then moved to Huddersfield, Aberdeen then onto East Fife in the summer of 2013. He was initially signed as a player at East Fife, but became player/manager in December 2013. He won 46 Scotland international caps and also made 22 appearances for Scotland Under 21s.
Pars & Queen of the South facts & stats
Head to head record - last 10 meetings:
Pars wins: 5
Queen of the South wins: 3
Pars Review match reports from the games between the teams this season:
27 August 2016 - Pars 0, Queen of the South 1
17 December 2016 - Queen of the South 2, Pars 2
Four Queens players have previously played for Dunfermline: Andy Dowie and Chris Higgins were part of the First Division (now Championship) winning team of 2010/11. Scott Mercer had one first team appearance for the Pars, while Derek Lyle did not feature for the Dunfermline first team in his spell at the club in 2004.
From the current Pars squad, Nicky Clark, David Hopkirk, David Hutton, Michael Paton and Gavin Reilly have all played for Queens. Pars boss Allan Johnston played and managed Queens, where his assistant manager was current Pars assistant Sandy Clark. Coach John Potter also played for Queens, on loan from Dunfermline, in 2012.
Here is the current Championship table:
Last five outings:
4 March - Championship - Won 5-1 v Dumbarton (H)
25 February - Championship - Drew 2-2 v Hibs (A)
14 February - Scottish Cup replay - Drew 1-1 v Hamilton (A) (lost on penalties)
11 February - Scottish Cup - Drew 1-1 v Hamilton (H)
4 February - Championship - Lost 2-0 v Falkirk (A)
Five goals at the weekend, four of them from top scorer Nicky Clark, will give Dunfermline confidence going into this midweek game, the second of four games against teams outside the top 4 that offer the chance of gaining points to move away from the relegation positions. The team have now lost just once since November, and have shown improved form in the past 2 games. Midfield duo Nat Wedderburn and John Herron were both substituted on Saturday through what are hopefully minor injuries. Depending on their availability, the team could be unchanged, with no reason other than injuries to tamper with a winning formula.
Same as Saturday, although I would not be against Herron being rested and Rhys McCabe taking his place.
Preferred starting 11, with squad numbers:
Tomorrow: Game Day image, then later in the evening match report/opinion with photos and Pars player ratings.