Earlier in the season, we lost 1-0 at East End Park in what was one of the most boring games in history. There was hardly a shot on target from either side in a match that was instantly forgettable. Marginally more memorable, in terms of entertainment if not skill, was our 2-1 success at Fir Park in February with Pearson and Craig getting the goals.
Dunfermline have built their success this season on their excellent home form but they have not been playing at top form since the winter break. Teams doing well around Christmas time nearly always struggle to keep their momentum going in the new year and the Pars have been no exception.
Stevie Crawford was substituted with an injury in Lithuania mid-week and his fitness will be crucial to the outcome of the game. Twenty goal Scottish strikers are a rare breed nowadays and he has an excellent partnership with Craig Brewster. Brewster has not scored against us in a while but he will still be a handful. Also worthy of our concern is Ged Brannan. Ged can be a great player but frequently goes into hiding during games he doesn’t fancy. We might not be the old firm but he will definitely fancy putting one over us and would be a good bet for first goal scorer.
We have Stephen Pearson suspended but other than that we should have a full squad to choose from. As ever, Terry’s dilemma will be whether to play 3-5-2 or 4-4-2. Given the tricky strikers Dunfermline have and our need for a safety first draw, the flexibility of a back three/five may appeal.
Also up for debate is where James McFadden will be asked to play. He is at his most dangerous playing up front but he could also fill in for Pearo on the left, particularly in a middle four. That would leave Clarkson or Craig – fresh from four goals against the Pars U21s – to partner Dirk.
One thing that may be in our favour is that we will definitely be up for the game while the Pars may have their minds elsewhere. Their league season is as good as over – safe in the top six but with no chance of qualifying for Europe. The cup is still of interest to them though and they will have more than half an eye on their quarter final replay at Ibrox on April 9th.
The game won’t be pretty but that doesn’t matter at this time of the season. A 1-1 draw will be enough to lift us off the bottom of the league come Saturday evening.