SPFL Development League - Tuesday 6 September - KO 6.00pm, East End Park
John Potter's Under 20s team has undergone significant changes this season compared to the 2015/16 campaign, when they finished bottom of the 20 team SPFL Development League, 10 points adrift of second last Partick Thistle. The extreme youth of the Pars squad - many were 16 or 17, giving away 2 or 3 years to their opponents - led to much enthusiasm but a lack of strength and limited experience in game management. The club admitted over the summer that they were looking for a much stronger Under 20s who would be competitive in their League, and, more importantly, bring through players for the first team squad. Recent additions including Ciaran Lafferty, Scott Lochhead (pictured, left) and Euan Spark have strengthened the team, along with the obvious advantage of the younger players from last season being a year older and more experienced. Centre-half Stuart Morrison has also been called up to the Scotland Under 19 squad, highlighting his development. Scott was with Fife Elite while playing for the Pars Under 20s last season, and signed a contract with DAFC this summer.
Celtic's Under 20s began this season in the Challenge Cup, with Premiership clubs Under 20s teams invited to take part in the competition for the first time. They defeated Annan 5-1 in the Cup, then won 2-1 at Cowdenbeath in the second round. The Celtic side included PJ Crossan (pictured, right), signed from the Pars in July. PJ scored in both Cup games, including the winning goal against Cowdenbeath. Celtic then began their defence of the SPFL Development League title, which they won by a massive 26 points last season, with a 4-3 win at Kilmarnock (Crossan again getting the winner) followed by a 1-1 draw agaisnt St Johnstone, a "home" game played at Cappielow. Their fifth game of the season came on Saturday, in the third round of the Challenge Cup, when they were defeated 3-0 by Livingston.
Tuesday evening's game could see Dunfermline field new signing Farid El Alagui, to further build up his match fitness. Nat Wedderburn could also be included as another over-age player as he continues his recovery from injury. The Pars Under 20s have only played one League game this season, when they defeated St Johnstone 2-1 in Perth last month, with goals from over-age players El Alagui and Michael Paton. The other competitive games this season for Potter's team resulted in a 3-1 win over Berwick Rangers in the Scottish Youth Cup last Sunday, in which former Celtic youth striker Ciaran Lafferty (pictured below) scored, and a draw with Raith Rovers at Stark's Park in the Fife Cup semi final, a tie which was then lost on a penalty kick shoot-out.
A match report with some photos will be posted on Wednesday morning.
All photos in this article are by Pars Review.