Changes will be made for the long trip north with fringe players given a chance to impress
Irn Bru Cup - Saturday 2 September 2017 - Victoria Park - KO 3.00pm
Returning to the far north to the scene of last season's 5-3 Scottish Cup third round win, Dunfermline will look to progress to the next round of the Irn Bru Cup with a team that will be a mixture of regulars and squad players. Both teams have started the season in goalscoring form, so an open, entertaining game is anticipated.
Our opponents: Buckie Thistle
Wednesday's 3-0 win over Rothes kept up Buckie's average of having scored 3 goals per game so far this season in the Highland League, with 7 games played. They sit in second place with 5 wins, 1 draw and 1 defeat. Buckie won the Highland League last season and qualified for the Scottish League 2 Play-offs. They lost 4-3 on aggregate to Lowland League champions East Kilbride, missing out on the chance to play Cowdenbeath in the play-off final for entry to League 2.
Here is a link to the article I posted last season before the Buckie v Pars Scottish Cup game, about Buckie - the town and the football club: www.parsreview.org/blog/way-way-way-up-north
Allan Johnston used the game against Arbroath in the last round of the Irn Bru Cup to give game time to fringe players and has confirmed he will do the same this Saturday. Lewis Martin, who was suspended for the Arbroath game, will feature and such is his versatility in defence, could come in for right back Ryan Williamson, left back Jason Talbot, or either Callum Morris or Lee Ashcroft in central defence. With centre half Big Jock M'Voto likely to play, I would rest Williamson and play Martin at right back, retaining Morris or Ashcroft to play alongside M'Voto.
In midfield, Johnston has several options. His preference for 4-4-2 means that 2 of the 4 positions will be filled by natural wide players as opposed to shoehorning in other players into the 4 man midfield. So with that in mind, I have gone for MIchael Paton in right midfield and David Hopkirk on the left. Hopkirk has been used as a striker this season but played the last 20 minutes of the win over Dumbarton last week on the left wing, with his cross setting up Nicky Clark's goal. In the middle of the pitch, Johnston could select Paton, meaning Fraser Aird could be brought in to play on the right. To have a balance of some first teamers alongside fringe players, I have retained Dean Shiels, and selected Aaron Splaine to come in alongside him.
Up front, Callum Smith is away with the Scotland Under 19 squad but changes were anticipated in any case. We have 4 (5 including Hopkirk) strikers battling for 2 places, and I would expect to see Nicky Clark play this weekend after making his first appearance after injury as a sub last week. Andy Ryan, who made his Pars debut in the last round of this cup, scoring twice in the at game, would be my choice to partner Clark.
My team below selection means that Ryan Williamson, Callum Morris, Kallum Higginbotham, Nat Wedderburn, Joe Cardle and Declan McManus are all rested. The criteria for team selection for this game is completely different from a League game, or even a Scottish Cup or League Cup game. I would expect to see a mix similar to the team I have picked, but that could just as easily see other players rested with some of the players mentioned at the start of this paragraph starting the game. Other fringe players, such as Aird and Scott Lochhead could also play. The manager certainly won't make 11 changes - there will be some continuity but up to 6 or 7 changes could be made.
Preferred starting 11, based on comments above:
Victoria Park photo plus Graeme Stewart edit by Pars Review.
Match report/opinion with photos will be posted when we return home from Buckie.