Scottish Championship - Saturday 08/04/17 - KO 3.00pm - East End Park
Odds (McBookie): Dunfermline 4/5; Draw 13/5; Raith 7/2
Just 3 points separate the Fife rivals before tomorrow's game. Raith had 20 points by the end of October, before enduring a run of 15 games without a win spanning November to February. The Pars lost 8 of the opening 13 League games but in recent months have become harder to beat, losing just twice in the league since November. Both clubs need to pull away from the threat of relegation, and today's preview looks at the teams' recent form and other factors that could influence the outcome tomorrow.
Our opponents -
Last five outings:
1 April - Championship - Lost 1-0 v Falkirk (A)
25 March - Championship - Drew 1-1 v Queen of the South (H)
18 March - Championship - Won 2-1 v Dundee United (H)
11 March - Championship - Lost 4-0 v Dumbarton (A)
8 March - Championship - Won 2-0 v St Mirren (H)
After a reasonably promising start to the League campaign, Rovers began a run of 15 games without a win in November. After the 12th match of the winless run, manager Gary Locke was sacked and replaced by John Hughes. His first game in charge was an encouraging 1-1 home draw with leaders Hibs, but after a 4-0 defeat to Dumbarton on 11 March, he told the media: "This is the hardest challenge I've had because I'm honest enough to say that I don't think we have great footballers at this club. I think one or two turned up against Dumbarton and didn't fancy it. It's 100 per cent about character but you don't want to tell them because they are fragile. Maybe we don't have enough character in the dressing room. One or two of these guys are hiding and thinking they are getting away with it. If you are going to do that, be honest and don't put the strip on."
Hughes' record as Rovers boss is now 2 wins, 2 draws and 4 defeats in his 8 games.
Raith have failed to win any of their past 10 away games, including losing the last 6. They have the worst away record in the Championship, with 10 points from 15 games.
Raith are the Championship's lowest scoring team with 29 goals scored in 31 games.
Despite their form over the past 5 months, and being third bottom of the division, Raith have scored the opening goal 14 times in 31 League games, one more than their opponents' 13 opening goals. The other 4 games were goalless.
In the dugout
One of Scottish football's characters, Hughes was a hard but fair central defender, whose attitude and leadership qualities saw him win a move to Celtic in 1995. He also played for Berwick, Swansea, Alloa (on loan), Hibs, Falkirk (twice) and Ayr. Raith are the sixth club he has managed, after previously being in charge at Falkirk, Hibs, Livingston, Hartlepool and Inverness. His graetest triumph was winning the Scottish Cup with Inverness in 2015, whch also saw him named as Manager of the Year by the Scottish Professional Footballers' Association and the Scottish Football Writers' Association.
Pars & Raith facts & stats
Head to head record - last 10 meetings:
Pars wins: 6
Raith wins: 2
Pars Review match reports from the games between the teams this season:
20 August 2016 - Raith 2, Pars 0
5 November 2016 - Pars 0, Raith 0
2 January 2017: Raith 0, Pars 2
Unusually for teams with a history of players playing for both sides, there are relatively few current connections. In the Raith squad, Jason Thomson made 14 Pars appearances on loan from Hearts in season 2011/12. Raith's Iain Davidson played in a pre-season friendly for Dunfermline in 2015, after leaving Dundee, before rejoining Rovers, who he had previously played for between 2007 and 2012.
From the current Pars squad, Joe Cardle was at Stark's Park for one season (2014/15), making 25 appearances without scoring.
Here is the current Championship table:
Last five outings:
1 April - Championship - Drew 1-1 v Hibs (H)
25 March - Championship - Won 1-0 v Morton (A)
18 March - Championship - Lost 1-0 v Ayr United (H)
11 March - Championship - Drew 0-0 v St Mirren (A)
7 March - Championship - Drew 1-1 v Queen of the South (H)
Points are still required to ease the fear of a 9th place finish, resulting in a relegation play-off (finishing bottom is less likely with each passing week, requiring 2 teams to by-pass us). With a game in hand - Dundee United away on Tuesday - the next few days could go a long way to securing the Pars' Championship place for next season.
Despite the run of only 2 defeats in 17 League games, Dunfermline are also on a run of 1 win in 5, and 2 wins in 10. In the past 11 home League games, the record reads: won 2, lost 2, drawn 7. The problem at home has been breaking down teams - Dunfermline are better suited to playing on the break in away games, where teams will play a more open game. The East End Park playing surface does not help the team play a passing game that has produced excellent results at Easter Road and Cappielow. However, regardless of these issues, a home win is required tomorrow - this cannot be another Ayr United scenario.
John Herron misses the game through suspension.
Same team as last week, but with McCabe coming in for Herron.
Preferred starting 11, with squad numbers:
Tomorrow: Game Day image, then later in the evening match report/opinion with photos and Pars player ratings.