Scottish Cup 5th round - Saturday 11/02/17 - KO 3.00pm - East End Park
Odds (Ladbrokes): Dunfermline 7/4; Draw 23/10; Hamilton 6/4
The Scottish Cup brings together 2 teams from different divisions who will both view Saturday's game as a good chance to progress into the quarter finals. Hamilton have no away wins in the Premiership this season while Dunfermline, despite the recent 11 game unbeaten run, have only won 1 of the past 8 games at East End Park in all competitions. This all points towards a draw, and as the betting odds above confirm, neither team is an overwhelming favourite to win the game.
Hamilton's visit to East End Park will give them a welcome break from their Premiership relegation battle, which sees them occupy the 11th place relegation play-off position, 3 points ahead of bottom of the table Inverness. Accies recorded a crucial 3-0 home win over Inverness last week, and although as stated in 11th place, such is the congested nature of this season's top division that they are only 3 points off 6th position.
The win over Inverness ended a run of 12 games without a win (6 draws and 6 defeats). Manager Martin Canning has been criticised by some of the Accies' support, and there was talk in January of fans boycotting a game to show their displeasure at the team's performances this season. To many outsiders, Accies would seem to be doing as well as could be expected, with a small home support and a budget that is smaller than many of their rivals.
Injured: Ben Richards-Everton, Ryan Williamson
The Pars' 11 game unbeaten run ended with a whimper at Falkirk last weekend, with an insipid display. Manager Allan Johnston admitted the performance was not good enough and fell below the standards that had been set during the unbeaten run. Hard work and organisation were key components of the results over the past few weeks. The team has also been fairly settled, but there are still areas that are a concern, especially right-back, where Andy Geggan had a particularly poor game last week. This highlighted again the decision not to sign a recognised right back during the January transfer window.
Callum Morris has yet to play in a Pars team that has kept a clean sheet since his return to the club, but neither he nor Lee Ashcroft are likely to be replaced, despite Callum Fordyce being in good form prior to Morris' arrival. In midfield, John Herron's form has shaded in recent games and he could be under pressure from Rhys McCabe for a central midfield role. On the wings, there are options open to the manager: 5 players for 2 positions (Higginbotham, McMullan, Cardle, Paton and Hopkirk). Hopkirk can also be played as a striker.
I would make 2 changes from the team that lost to Falkirk: Lewis Martin replacing Andy Geggan at right back, and Michael Paton in place of Paul McMullan on the right wing. Paton has played in all recent Under 20s games, scoring twice in 3 games. McMullan has been impressive this season but has struggled slightly in the past few games.
Preferred line-up, with squad numbers:
Photos by Pars Review.
Tomorrow: Game Day image, then later in the evening match report/opinion with photos and Pars player ratings.