Scottish Cup 4th round - Saturday 21/01/17 - KO 3.00pm - Indodrill Stadium, Alloa
Odds (Ladbrokes): Alloa 21/10; Draw 13/5; Dunfermline 23/20
Memories of the dismal 2013 play-off defeat to Clackmannanshire's only senior football club will be fresh in the minds of all Pars fans and will ensure that nothing will be taken for granted in tomorrow's Scottish Cup game at the same venue. Dunfermline go into the game on a 9 game unbeaten run and face a lower division opponent but the host team will aim to make it difficult for Allan Johnston's team to progress into the next round. The Pars were most recently at Alloa in June last year for a pre-season friendly that ended 1-1.
Alloa began the season in great form, qualifying for the knock-out stages of the League Cup and suffering just 1 defeat in their opening 7 League 1 games. Their League Cup victories included 2 wins over Premiership sides: Ross County (in the group stage) and Inverness (in the second round). However, more recently they endured a run of 6 games without a win between mid November and Christmas Eve that severely dented their title winning prospects. This winless run ended with a 4-2 win at Stenhousemuir and was followed by another victory last week, 2-1 at Stranraer. Manager Jim Goodwin, signed as a player in the summer of 2016, took over as manager after Jack Ross was appointed St Mirren manager in October.
Alloa are currently in second place in League 1, 9 points behind leaders Livingston, and at the top of a mini-group of 4 teams that are separated by only 3 points. Alloa are rarely involved in no-scoring games, with all of their most recent 9 games featuring both at least one goal for and against. Their artificial surface, which was laid in the summer after the previous much-criticised surface became very worn, has not been the advantage to them that may have been assumed: almost two-thirds of their points in League games have come from away games.
The Scottish Cup represents a chance for Dunfermline to progress and secure the financial rewards that would follow if drawn against a well-supported top division team in the later rounds. Unlike certain teams in England's FA Cup, who field virtual reserve teams and prioritise League games over the national Cup competition, Allan Johnston will field a strong team, with few changes likely to be made to the team that drew with Ayr last week.
Pars line-up: the manager's selection
Injured: Ben Richards-Everton, plus 2 unnamed players with minor niggling injuries.
The manager rarely makes wholesale changes to his starting 11 (a habit that also includes a reluctance to utilise substitutes during games) and has already stated that there will only be a couple of changes for tomorrow's game. Team selection will be influenced by the unnamed players who have what the manager described as niggling injuries. New signing Callum Morris is likely to be included in the team, although neither Lee Ashcroft or Callum Fordyce deserve to lose their place to the new centre half.
The importance of this competition means that a strong, settled team should be fielded. Morris needs game time and should start, possibly in place of Fordyce, while I would also give Joe Cardle a start, with Kallum Higginbotham shifting to the right wing. Cardle would replace Paul McMullan, who may benefit from a week's rest after being kicked around the park by Ayr's cluggers last week. The remainder of the team would be unchanged.
Preferred starting 11, with squad numbers:
Photos by Pars Review.
Tomorrow: Game Day image, then later in the evening match report/opinion with photos and Pars player ratings.