Can the Pars make the Bairns cry?Date: Saturday, 6th Oct 2018
It is Match-Day 8 in the SPFL Ladbrokes Championship as Falkirk and Dunfermline Athletic prepare to play out the first Kincardine Derby of the 2018-19 league season.
It has been a pleasant upturn in form for the Pars in recent weeks with a penalty victory over Boreham Wood, following a 0-0 draw in Hertfordshire in the Irn-Bru Cup, kicking off a four match unbeaten run for Allan Johnston`s side.
A 0-0 draw with Alloa followed before a 1-1 tie with Greenock Morton. Last Friday`s 1-0 victory over Partick Thistle has brought an air of positivity back to the Fifers as they prepare for the penultimate match of the opening quarter.
It has been a disappointing beginning with 8 points from the opening 7 matches, but, the momentum built by Dunfermline recently could see them rise the division over coming weeks if they maintain their good form.
Eight points behind current league leaders Ayr United will mean they have a fight on their hands if they are to challenge at the top this term. However, the Championship is a notoriously tight league where things can change from week to week. DAFC sit just three points off the final promotion playoff place, currently occupied by Dundee United, so, all is not lost, just yet! 84 points are still be played for and Dunfermline will hope to rack them up as the season progresses.
For Falkirk, they only sit behind Dunfermline by two positions in the second-tier table, but, are five points behind their rivals from West Fife.
It has been a difficult 18 months for the Bairns; Peter Houston`s men lost out in the playoffs at the end of the 2016-17 campaign and things have went from bad to worse since.
Paul Hartley was drafted in as a replacement at The Falkirk Stadium last term after a stuttering beginning to the campaign. A late rally of good results wasn`t enough to see Dunfermline caught in 4th and the Grangemouth-based club had to settle for mid-table mediocrity.
Hartley rebuilt the squad over the summer but was unable to put a winning side out onto the park consistently enough. The fans have saw another new manager enter the building after they parted company with Hartley last month.
Ray McKinnon has taken the hot seat, despite only taking over at Morton in June. The ex-Raith and Brechin manager has failed to get the `new manager bounce` many clubs hope for as Falkirk remain rooted to the bottom of the Championship.
Last weekend`s 2-0 victory over Alloa was McKinnon`s first since taking over and takes them level with Jim Goodwin`s side: worryingly for Saturday`s hosts is that they`ve defeated only one full-time team this season, that being Rangers U20s in the Irn-Bru Cup. Victories over Forfar Athletic and East Fife in the BetFred Cup, plus the win over the Wasps, are the only ticks against the name of Falkirk this campaign, but a win over Dunfermline would be their biggest of the term so far.
McKinnon has moved quickly to Reese players he felt were surplus to requirements, plus bringing in Zak Rudden and Prince Bauben. The relatively young squad at his disposal gives the boss a chance to improve their fortunes with hard work on the training pitch - but the relative lack of knowledge and experience of this level of football throughout the park has proven troublesome so far.
3 goals in 2 games emphasises the need to watch out for Rudden since his loan move from Rangers, so, Dunfermline can`t be complacent. The experienced duo of Bauben plus Paul Paton will prove a tough barrier to pass, as well as club captain Aaron Muirhead and Italian goalkeeper Leo Fasan, it provides a strong spine to the Bairns line-up.
With most of the Pars squad fit, Johnston has a headache of the right kind this coming Saturday. Tom Beadling is pushing for his first start of the season after impressing following injury in the Reserves while a 5-0 win over Dundee midweek with a host of first-teamers involved has provided strength in depth for the East End Park club.
A large travelling support could really help the players down Falkirk... There`s nothing better than when Dunfermline make the Bairns cry!