Scottish Championship - Saturday 22/04/17 - KO 3.00pm - East End Park
Odds (McBookie): Dunfermline 15/8; Draw 12/5; Falkirk 29/20
The First Division (now Championship) season of 2010/11 was the last period that Dunfermline had the upper hand over Falkirk for a consistent run of games, winning 3 and drawing 1. Since then, the teams have played each other 9 times, with Falkirk winning 7 and the other 2 games ending in draws. The first meeting of the teams at East End Park this season ended 1-1. Both games at the Falkirk Stadium have been very disappointing from a Dunfermline viewpoint, with Falkirk winning both with minimal effort required. The teams built up a rivalry during the 1980s and 90s which has, in more recent years, started to fade. This was covered in yesterday's blog article (www.parsreview.org/blog/falkirk-do-we-care-any-more). While tomorrow's game may lack the previous edge of games between the sides, there is enough dislike still remaining on both sides to make the game matter more than any other average Championship match.
Our opponents -
Last five outings:
15 April - Championship - Drew 2-2 v St Mirren (H)
8 April - Championship - Drew 1-1 v Dundee United (A)
1 April - Championship - Won 1-0 v Raith Rovers (H)
25 March - Championship - Lost 2-1 v Hibs (A)
18 March - Championship - Lost 1-0 v Morton (H)
Falkirk are once again in the promotion play-off positions, hopeful of finishing second and avoiding having to participate in a 3rd v 4th quarter final play off. Manager Peter Houston commented this week that the team's fans need to get behind their team, after last week's home draw with St Mirren: "The home fans are looking for scapegoats", Houston claimed. "That's disappointing for me. Yes, we're at home and we should be lifting them, but we need them to help us along and the support hasn't been as good as it normally is." Midfielder Mark Kerr, an ex-Par, was jeered by Falkirk fans after being substituted last weekend. Houston was unhappy with that: "There are periods when someone is picked out and I'm very disappointed. Mark Kerr has been sensational for us. His form could be better but he'll never hide. It's times like this he could do with some support."
Falkirk have scored most goals of any team in the Championship this season (53).
They have scored in all of their last 11 away games.
In the dugout
A former Falkirk player, Houston has been manager of the Bairns since 2014. He guided the team to the promotion play-off final last season, losing to Kilmarnock, and to the Scottish Cup Final in 2015 where they were defeated by Inverness. Houston has also managed Dundee United.
Pars & Falkirk facts & stats
Head to head record - last 10 meetings:
Pars wins: 1
Falkirk wins: 7
Pars Review match reports from the games between the teams this season:
15 October 2016 - Falkirk 2, Pars 1
26 December 2016 - Pars 1, Falkirk 1
4 February 2017: Falkirk 2, Pars 0
The previously mentioned Mark Kerr is the only current Falkirk player to have played for Dunfermline, making 13 appearances in the second half of the 2011/12 season.
From the current Pars squad, only Kallum Higginbotham has played for Falkirk, playing 61 games in an 18 month period from July 2010 to January 2012.
Here is the current Championship table:
Last five outings:
15 April - Championship - Won 2-0 v Dumbarton (A)
11 April - Championship - Lost 1-0 v Dundee United (A)
8 April - Championship - Won 1-0 v Raith (H)
1 April - Championship - Drew 1-1 v Hibs (H)
25 March - Championship - Won 1-0 v Morton (A)
Realistically, looking at both ends of the Championship table, all Dunfermline have to play for over the 3 remaining games is pride and fifth place. Technically, a place in either the promotion or relegation play-offs is still possible (8 points outside 4th place; 7 points off 9th, with 9 points still available) but it would take not only 3 straight wins or defeats for the Pars, but also a highly unlikely set of results for several other teams for either play-off place to become a reality. A long overdue win against Falkirk should be motivation enough.
Nicky Clark and John Herron are still injury doubts for tomorrow. I would retain Rhys McCabe in midfield even if Herron is fit. Clark would take Gavin Reilly's place if he is ready to play. Both Clark and the Moff are struggling for goals and so David Hopkirk, scorer of the Pars' second goal last week, will come into contention from the bench. I would still have Hopkirk as a substitute, however. On the basis that Clark is fit, here is my preferred starting 11, with squad numbers:
Tomorrow: Game Day image, then later in the evening match report/opinion with photos and Pars player ratings.