Scottish Championship - Saturday 19/11/16 - KO 5.15pm - Paisley 2021 Stadium
Odds (Skybet): St Mirren 13/10; Draw 5/2; Dunfermline 9/5
The teams propping up the Championship table take on each other in Saturday's televised game in Paisley. St Mirren have not won a League game this season, have no clean sheets, and have scored less goals per game than Dunfermline (0.83 to Dunfermline's 1.15) and conceded more (2 goals per game on average, to Dunfermline's 1.85). Despite this, the home side are favourites to win and to close the gap at the bottom of the table to 2 points, and with a game in hand on Dunfermline.
St Mirren manager Jack Ross has seen his new side lose all 3 League games since he left Alloa to take over the Paisley club. Previous manager Alex Rae was sacked after no wins in the opening 6 games, which was followed by youth coach Allan McManus filling in on a temporary basis for 3 winless League matches until the appointment of the new permanent manager. Saints will take encouragement from last week's Challenge Cup victory over Ayr United at the Paisley 2021 Stadium, a game that saw their midfield comprise of 4 players aged 20 or under: Stephen Mallan (20), Lewis Morgan (20), Kyle Magennis (18) and 17 year old Kyle McAllister. The young players added energy to the team according to reports, but it was experienced striker John Sutton who scored both Saints goals to win the match. Sutton will be a threat to the Pars defence tomorrow, alongside on-loan Aberdeen striker Lawrence Shankland, who had a successful loan spell at Dunfermline in 2014.
Here is the current Championship table:
Dunfermline go into the game with no League wins since the last time St Mirren were the opposition, in September, when the Pars won 4-3 at East End Park. Allan Johnston has seen his team gather just 2 points from all away games this season. Saturday's game also provides Dunfermline with the chance to break the unwanted record of not having defeated a full time club away from home in all competitions since April 2013.
Pars line up: the manager's selection
Injured players: David Hopkirk, Gavin Reilly, Ben Richards-Everton, Ryan Williamson.
Suspended: Nat Wedderburn
The injured players listed above are all definitely out of tomorrow's game, and although it is debatable whether any would have started the game, their absence does limit the manager's options in certain areas of the team. One certain starter would have been the suspended Nat Wedderburn. Johnston has the option of putting Andy Geggan back in midfield and playing Lewis Martin in the right back position that Geggan has covered so well recently, with Callum Fordyce coming back into the team in central defence. A less likely option is to play Fordyce at right back, which was not a success in his only game in that role, at Morton in September. If Johnston decides against making any such changes, he will look to Rhys McCabe to play alongside John Herron in midfield. Paul McMullan must be in contention for a left wing role in place of the out-of-form Joe Cardle.
Preferred Pars line-up:
Midfield is the problem area, with the absence of one player (Wedderburn) and the necessity of playing Geggan to cover the problem right back position, leaving the central midfield very weak. The team I have selected below is based on current form and I do not expect it to be Johnston's starting 11. I have selected Fordyce who played well in his sub appearance at Dundee United, to allow Geggan to play in a defensive midfield role, in a 4-1-3-2 formation, with McMullan and Higginbotham playing as inside right and left as opposed to wingers.
Line-up (with squad numbers):
Photos by Pars Review.
Tomorrow: Game Day image and full match report/opinion, photos and Pars player ratings.