This season's Championship could be the most competitive in many years, with several ex-Premiership clubs and many evenly matched teams. Saturday will see the Pars raise the League 1 title flag, and there will be hopes and expectations that the game against Dumbarton that follows will bring 3 points. The opposition are one of only 2 part time teams in the division, and while not cannon fodder for full time opponents, will go into most games this season as second favourites to win, but unlikely to be marooned at the foot of the division.
Dumbarton's Betfred League Cup campaign saw them score 7 goals by 7 different players, and concede a worrying 11 goals in the 4 games. Drawing 2 and losing 2 of their group games (and losing the penalty shoot outs in both drawn games), the Sons home games saw a 2-0 loss to lower league opposition in East Fife, and a 3-3 draw with the other team in the group from a lower division, Peterhead, after Dumbarton had gone 3-1 ahead.
Dumbarton have signed 7 players this summer, 3 of whom have connections to Dunfermline: striker Robert Thomson, signed from Brechin, was with the Pars in 2013; winger Andy Stirling, formerly of Stranraer, had a disappointing 2014/15 season at East End Park before being loaned out and then released; and Josh Todd (pictured, right), a trialist in 2 Pars pre-season games in July. Another face well known to Pars fans is Dumbarton centre half Gregor Buchanan, now starting his second season with the club, after he was perhaps surprisingly released by Dunfermline at the end of season 2014/15.
The Pars will have more options available going into the game but are still several weeks away from having a fully fit first team squad. Goalkeeper Sean Murdoch is still out; Callum Fordyce has completed another 90 minutes for the Under 20s but is not yet being considered for a first team start; Michael Paton played an hour of the Under 20s game this week, his first game since his hernia operation, and could be among the substitutes. David Hopkirk is still injured, and Jason Talbot is suspended for Saturday's game. Ryan Williamson, who was ill last week, is available and will start at right back, partly due to Talbot's suspension which will require Lewis Martin to switch fullback positions and play on the left against Dumbarton. The central defence picks itself, while in midfield Nat Wedderburn, taken off injured in the last game, has recovered and will play in the defensive midfield position. Andy Geggan (pictured, left) served a 1 match suspension at Tannadice and will replace Lewis Spence. Rhys McCabe, also injured during the game against Dundee United, is back in training but will almost certainly drop to the subs bench, with Kallum Higginbotham moving to attacking midfield, having played as a striker last week. Gavin Reilly is fit again and will partner the Moff in attack, barring any late new signings, which could then see Moffat drop to the bench. The line-up listed below (with squad numbers) is the most likely starting 11 with the players who are available:
Photos by Pars Review.