Chances for fringe players as Dick Campbell's Arbroath visit EEP in Irn Bru Cup
Irn Bru Cup - Tuesday 15 August 2017 - East End Park - KO 7.45pm
Dunfermline's bench-warmers will be given a chance to impress in tomorrow's Irn Bru-sponsored Challenge Cup, a competition for non-Premiership SPFL senior teams, Premiership colt sides, and invited Irish and Welsh clubs. The Pars will face an Arbroath team managed by ex Pars player, assistant boss and manager Dick Campbell. Dick's returns to EEP are always fiesty, with him being banished to the stand when in charge at Forfar and seeing his players, including his own bampot son Iain, receive multiple red cards against Dunfermline. Dick never lacks enthusiasm but has often seen his desire to defeat the Pars descend into desperation, his bitterness all too obvious, resulting in him and his team losing focus.
The opposition: Arbroath
Dick Campbell is a survivor. Having beaten cancer, he returned to his job at Forfar, taking them to the promotion play-off places in 3 out of 4 seasons in League 1 during his 7 year stay at the club, including his final full season, 2014/15. Later that year he was sacked but returned to management at Arbroath, guiding the Gayfield club to League 2 success last season - beating Forfar to the title. Dick is assisted by his brother Ian, and the 2 ex-Pars have enjoyed a good start to this season. Placed in a tough League Cup group with Ross County, Hibs, Alloa and Montrose, Arbroath drew with Ross County and Alloa, hammered Montrose 4-0, with their only defeat coming at Easter Road.
The League season began with a 2-0 win over Queen's Park, before drawing at Airdrie at the weekend. The defeat to Hibs remains Arbroath's only loss in 6 competitive games this season.
With a much more important game to come on Saturday in the Championship, at home to Falkirk, Pars manager Allan Johnston has already said he will make "6 or 7 changes" to the team that thrashed Inverness 5-1 in the opening League game. While there are options available from the bench, it will be interesting to see how Johnston accomodates certain fringe players into his 4-4-2 formation, unless, of course, he also changes formation. It would be sensible to rest players such as Kallum Higginbotham and Joe Cardle, with the option of bringing in Michael Paton to play on the left, which Johnston as tried before, with Fraser Aird coming into the team on the right. Centre midfield could see Aaron Splaine and/or Scott Lochhead selected.
Johnston has to decide whether to play Dean Shiels, to build up his match fitness, or leave him out with the Falkirk game in mind. Lewis Martin, who might have replaced Ryan Williamson at right back, to allow Williamson to miss this game, is suspended, as is Lee Ashcroft. While not every regular first teamer can be rested, Johnston may start the likes of Callum Morris but substitute him during the second half if the result is going Dunfermline's way.
Up front, Declan McManus is available having served his 2 match League suspension. I have selected him but it would not be a surprise if Johnston kept the same front 2 (Callum Smith and David Hopkirk), after both scored against Inverness.
The team I have chosen below will probably bear little relation to the 11 that Johnston picks (it contains only 5 changes, for example). His team line-ups for League games are usually fairly easy to predict, but this game will see many changes and, as stated above, he has to fit the "6 or 7" new players into the formation, which is not as simple as it sounds with the personnel available.
Preferred starting 11, based on comments above; 4-3-1-2 formation: