Scottish Championship - Saturday 17/12/16 - KO 3.00pm - Palmerston Park
Odds (Skybet): QOS 19/20; Draw 5/2; Dunfermline 13/5
August's meeting between the teams at East End Park was the first since April 2011. Tomorrow's visit to Palmerston is Dunfermline's first since February 2011, when the Pars won 3-1. A Dunfermline win this weekend would see them leapfrog Queens into sixth place in the Championship.
Queens topped the division in the early weeks of the season before a miserable run of form that led to manager Gavin Skelton leaving the club, followed by an unsuccessful spell in charge for interim boss Jim Thomson. A run of 7 straight defeats between mid October to early December was ended last week in a 2-2 draw at Falkirk. The Queens' goals last week came from the veteran striking partnership of Stephen Dobbie and Derek Lyle (combined age 69). After a run of 6 League games without a goal, Dobbie has now scored 3 times in the past 2 games to take his season tally to 15 in all competitions. Lyle scored just once in the 6 League games he played in from mid September to early December - a period in which he also missed 4 games through injury - before netting last week. He has 10 goals this season.
Queens appointed Gary Naysmith as manager on December 1, although it was agreed that he would remain in charge of East Fife until their Scottish Cup replay against Edinburgh City on December 7, which they won. Naysmith's first game in charge of Queens was the draw at Falkirk.
Here is the current Championship table:
Based on results over the past 5 games, Dunfermline would be joint fourth in the Championship, with opponents Queens in last place. While the Pars' performances have been far from scintillating, there has been a resolute approach to recent games that was missing earlier in the season. It is noticable that the defence now clear the ball at every given opportunity, eliminating the dithering that led to mistakes and opposition goals in the opening months of the season. The whole team is now working as a unit, and results have improved.
Pars line-up: the manager's selection
Injured players: John Herron, Ben Richards-Everton
Allan Johnston has more squad availability for Saturday's game than he has enjoyed for some time, with no suspensions and the long injury list starting to clear up. Unfortunately, a new injury for John Herron during last week's game against Morton will rule him out for Saturday, but players including David Hopkirk and Ryan Williamson are fit again. Andy Geggan has trained this week but hasn't played since 12 November. Gavin Reilly was an unused sub last week, but is another player who has not played even for the Under 20s since his injury. Johnston has to decide whether to play Lewis Martin at right back now that his 1 game suspension has been served, or start with Ryan Williamson, who made an impressive 30 minute substitute appearance last week. Conner Duthie, who filled in at right back last week, will likely be on the bench. Nat Wedderburn will be expected to take Herron's place in midfield, although Lewis Spence is also available.The other areas of the team will almost certainly be unchanged from last week.
Preferred line-up (with squad numbers):
Looking at current form and from who is available, I would select the team below.
Photos by Pars Review.
Tomorrow: Game Day image and, later in the evening, a full match report/opinion, photos and Pars player ratings.