A chance for Dunfermline to make a real mark on the League when rivals Falkirk visit East End Park
SPFL Championship - Saturday 19 August 2017 - East End Park - KO 3.00pm
Dunfermline and Falkirk meet for the first time since the controvesiral match at East End Park on 22 April, when Bairns player Miles Hippolyte dived to win a penalty for his team when Dunfermline were 1-0 ahead. Falkirk went on to win 2-1 and although Hippolyte was retrospectively banned by the SFA for the dive, it did not redress the injustice that occured that day, and will doubtless be a strong motivating factor for Dunfermline tomorrow.
The opposition: Falkirk
Falkirk go into tomorrow's game with just 1 point from the opening 2 Championship games and having lost at home to Livingston in the second round of the Betfred Cup. Second favourites to win the Championship, they last played in the top division in 2010/11. Since then, they finished third in what is now the Championship for 3 seasons (2010/11, 2011/12 & 2012/13) before promotion play-offs were introduced. A further third place finish in 2013/14 saw them fail to progress via the new play-off system; 2014/15 ended in a fifth place finish, their lowest for several seasons. For the past 2 seasons, they have finished second, but again did not succeed in gaining promotion through the play-offs.
They will be strengthened by the return tomorrow of Craig Sibbald, who had trials at Luton over the summer. Other clubs were interested in him but were ultimately put off by the development fee that Falkirk would have been due for the out of contract midfielder. He signed a new Falkirk contract last week.
Falkirk have signed 4 new players this summer, the fewest of any club in the Championship: goalkeepers David Mitchell and Robbie Mutch, winger Alex Harris and striker Rory Loy (for his second spell with the club).
Victory tomorrow would put the Pars 6 points ahead of Falkirk in the Championship. With new signing Andy Ryan netting twice on his debut in midweek against Arbroath, manager Allan Johnston now has real options up front, even in the absence of Nicky Clark, who himself is back in training. The previous League game, before Ryan signing and with Declan McManus completing a 2 game League suspension, saw Callum Snith and David Hopkirk start the game as the team's front two, with both scoring. Ordinarily it would be almost unfair to replace one, far less two, goalscorers, but McManus has also started the season well, while Ryan has been a long-time target and it would not be a surprise if he started the game.
In defence, after missing the Challenge Cup game on Tuesday through suspension, centre half Lee Ashcroft will return, while left back Jason Talbot has been a steadying influence on the back 4 since his return to the team last Saturday. The midfield should be the same as in the Inverness game. None of the fringe players who started against Arbroath did enough to force their way into the starting 11 for games such as this.
Preferred starting 11, based on comments above:
Sean Murdoch/Jason Talbot photo plus Peter Houston edit by Pars Review.
Match report/opinion with photos will be posted here around 9.00pm tomorrow evening.