The Under 20s SPFL Development League's fifth round of games sees Dunfermline take on Hearts at Kelty Hearts' New Central Park this evening. John Potter's team, who were bottom of the division last season, have a stronger squad this season, with the addition of players such as Scott Lochhead, Conner Duthie and Ciaran Lafferty, and currently have 2 wins and 2 losses from their opening 4 games. Victory against Hearts could see the team climb to sixth place in the 17-team division, with most teams already having played their fifth fixture.
The Pars were involved in the second round of the Scottish Youth Cup at the weekend, travelling to Livingston and defeating the home side 4-0 (see report & photos at http://www.parsreview.org/blog/under-20s-match-report-livi-0-pars-4). The team play attractive, passing football, which begins from the defence. Full-backs Reece Duncan and Conner Duthie like to attack and are joined by the central defensive partnership of Fife Elite player Paul Allan, who has been converted from a midfielder to central defence, and who is a ball-playing centre-half who makes up for lacking the height of a "typical" centre half by using intelligence to get the better of his opponent. Stuart Morrison, the team's other regular central defender, has just returned from his second call-up to the Scotland Under 19 squad, playing alongside players from clubs such as Chelsea and Everton. Making up the defence is the versatile Euan Spark (pictured above), who can play at full-back, centre-half and midfield, and already looks ready if required to join the first team squad, certainly as a good option from the bench.
In midfield, the team is usually captained by Johnny Galloway (pictured below), who plays with great maturity, rarely wasting a pass. Scott Lochhead has impressed since joining the club, and scored twice in the win at Livingston. Robbie Crawford, Evan Horne and Brandon Luke are the other midfielders in the squad, all of whom have contributed to the team's improved form this season.
Up front, ex-Celtic youth Ciaran Lafferty has made a good early impression after joing the club this summer. James Thomas, one of the longest serving Pars youth players, has been used both as a striker and attacking midfielder this season. The team's breakthrough player this season has been 16 year old Callum Smith, who has started most games and also made a positive impact when used as a substitute.
The Development League allows 4 over-age players to be fielded (unlike the Youth Cup, where all players must be in the under 20 age group). The game this evening could see players such as David Hopkirk and Nat Wedderburn get some game time as they return from injury.
Game Day graphic of Scott Lochhead at start of article designed by https://www.instagram.com/dunfermlineloyal/ from an original photo by Pars Review.
Pars v Hearts Under 20s match report and photo gallery will be posted this evening.