Scottish Championship - Saturday 04/03/17 - KO 3.00pm - East End Park
Odds (Ladbrokes): Dunfermline: 4/5; Draw 5/2; Dumbarton 10/3
Dunfermline and Dumbarton meet tomorrow in a fixture that in recent years has been dominated by the Pars, with 9 wins, 1 draw and only 1 defeat in 11 games going back to the mid-1990s. The solitary draw was the most recent game at Dumbarton. Both teams are enjoying good runs of results, with Dunfermline suffering just 1 defeat in the past 11 League games, and Dumbarton unbeaten in the past 4 Championship matches.
As one of only 2 part-time clubs in the Championship, Dumbarton are the annual bookies' favourites for relegation, but have now been playing second tier football for the past 4 seasons. Manager Stephen Aitken has built up a squad of experienced players, some of whom are playing above the standards they set at previous clubs, an example of this being winger Andy Stirling, who had a disappointing season with Dunfermline in 2014/15 but has been one of Dumbarton's key players this season.
Although unbeaten in 4 League games, Dumbarton have only won 1 of their past 8 games, and similarly to Dunfermline, need to convert draws into wins. Dumbarton's last 3 games have all been 2-2 draws.
Here is the current Championship table:
Despite having just 1 defeat in the Championship since late November, Dunfermline are still only 2 points above the relegation play-off position, but have 2 games in hand over most of the teams below them. During the recent unbeaten run, 5 out of the 9 unbeaten games were draws. When the run ended in a defeat at Falkirk, the following 3 games (2 in the Scottish Cup, and 1 in the League) were all draws. Last week's game, at Easter Road against leaders Hibs, saw Dunfermline put in a level of performance not seen for years, and set a standard for the team that, if sustained, would easily secure mid-table safety by the end of the season. There is no realistic hope of a top 4 place to compete in the promotion play-offs, but points must be gathered to avoid any relegation worries. The bottom half of the division is congested, and with a new-look St Mirren team - at one point marrooned at the bottom of the table - picking up more wins in the past month than in the first 4 months of the season, points are very much the priority to pull away from 9th and 10th places.
Injuries: Lewis Martin, Ben Richards-Everton, Ryan Williamson
The team will almost certainly be unchanged from the starting 11 from last week's game. The level of performance from last week has to be maintained. The missing element from last week are goals from the front two: Michael Moffat has now gone 11 games without a goal, while top scorer Nicky Clark hasn't scored in his past 5 games.
Same team as last week - no changes required.
Preferred starting 11, with squad numbers:
Tomorrow: Game Day image, then later in the evening match report/opinion with photos and Pars player ratings.