The first meeting of the clubs in 5 years sees a host of former players and coaching staff from both sides meet up at East End Park on Saturday. For Dunfermline, manager Allan Johnston (pictured) is a former Queens player and manager; assistant manager Sandy Clark filled the same role at Queens when Johnston was manager there; coach John Potter spent a period on loan with the Dumfries side in 2012; goalkeeper David Hutton made over 50 league appearances for Queens between 2009-2011; midfielder Michael Paton enjoyed a successful 2 years with Queens from 2013 to 2015; and on-loan striker Gavin Reilly began his career at Palmerston, playing there for 5 years and winning a move to Hearts as the result of his performances. Queens have 3 former Pars in their squad - defenders Chris Higgins and Andy Dowie, who made a combined 156 league appearances for Dunfermline; and striker Derek Lyle, who was on loan with the Pars in 2004 but did not make a first team appearance.
Queen Of The South began this season with a new manager in place following the surprise sacking of previous boss James Fowler. A seventh place finish in last season's Championship may have seemed acceptable for a club of Queens' stature but not so for the club's directors, who decided to part company with Fowler in April, and replace him with his assistant, Gavin Skelton. Six players were brought in over the summer, among them Stephen Dobbie, the much-travelled striker who is now in his second spell in Dumfries. Dobbie, who has played for 13 clubs in his 14 year professional career is now back where he spent the most prolific period of his career (2007-2009), scoring 54 goals in 97 games. At the age of 33 he has proved to still be a goal threat, with 4 goals already this season.
Queens have made an excellent start to the season, qualifying from their Betfred League Cup group, and then defeating Hibs 3-1 at Easter Road in the first knock-out round, to set up a quarter final game against Rangers next month. In the Championship, an opening day draw at Tannadice has been followed by victories over Ayr and Falkirk, to put Queens in third place, 2 points off the lead.
Dunfermline go into Saturday's game with the same squad that lost the Fife derby last weekend. Farid El Alagui, who played as a trialist (and scored) in the Under 20s win over St Johnstone on Tuesday, has not yet been offered a contract, and with no other new signings, Allan Johnston has to decide whether to make changes to his starting 11 with players including Callum Fordyce and David Hopkirk making strong cases to start the game. Defensive mistakes have been plentiful this season, and with Fordyce (pictured below) now fully fit, Ben Richards-Everton could lose his starting place, after a series of errors in several games this season.
The other problem area of the team - the toothless attack - could see Hopkirk start, having played for the Under 20s during the week to further build up his match sharpness. Hopkirk scored as a sub in the previous home game, and could replace the Moff, who has now gone 6 games without a goal.
Nat Wedderburn and Sean Murdoch are still injured. Central midfield could see Rhys McCabe retain his place alongside Andy Geggan, partly due to lack of options in that area. Jason Talbot could also return at left back, although Johnston might decide against dropping Lewis Martin from that position.
Possible Pars line-up, with squad numbers:
Photos by Pars Review.