Top Of The Table ClashDate: Wednesday, 24th Aug 2022
Last Saturday saw bottom versus top – Kelty Hearts against Dunfermline Athletic – in SPFL Cinch League One, in the first Fife Derby of the campaign.
This weekend, it is 2nd vs 1st, as the Pars take on Airdrieonians at the newly named KDM Group East End Park.
It has been an impressive start by both Clubs, who both had managerial departures over the summer shut-down. James McPake has came to West Fife and provided DAFC with renewed vigour and optimism early on in the term.
Whereas, this weekend`s visitors have appointed former Pars players – and cousins – Rhys McCabe and Callum Fordyce as Player-Manager and Player-Assistant Manager, respectively. At such a relatively young age and pretty much zero managerial experience, it may have been viewed as a bit of risk and a gamble by Airdrieonians, but they may have found a Diamond in the rough.
Both sides sit joint-top, Athletic second on goal-difference, with 10 points from 4 matches.
Saturday`s visitors don`t just have notable faces within the dug-out, they also have names on the field that Dunfermline Athletic fans will remember too.
Gabby McGill and Callum Smith are integral parts of the Diamonds attack: McGill has 9 goals in 35 appearances for Airdrieonians while Smith has netted an impressive 18 goals in 46 matches.
Another player who was apart of the Pars` successful League One winning side under Allan Johnston who has returned to Airdrieonians for this campaign is goalkeeper David Hutton, albeit he has struggled to gain the #1 jersey since signing, with ex-Queen of the South shot-stopper Josh Rae starting regularly for McCabe and Fordyce`s men.
For the Pars, they contain 2 former Diamonds within their ranks – full-backs Kyle Macdonald and Josh Edwards were transferred to East End Park during Stevie Crawford`s tenure as manager and both have shown they are more than capable players who can help the Pars have a successful season in 2022-2023.
Edwards has made over 100 appearances for Dunfermline now and has more than made the left-back slot his own, while Macdonald has made around 20% of those appearances for the Black & White, but has shown the quality he possesses while in the final third, with his deliveries from out-wide setting up numerous goals over his 18 months at the Club so far.
This weekend`s match will be the toughest for the Pars so far in the league this term; they have shown real grit and determination to come away with 3 victories and a draw so far, especially with a very small squad who are already carrying a few injuries.
For the visitors, they`ve already faced two fellow full-time Clubs already this campaign; hosting Falkirk and winning 4-0, before drawing 1-1 away to Queen of the South. They will come to KDM Group East End Park under no illusions that it will be a difficult game, but will also know they are more than capable of picking up points against fellow full-time sides too.
A win for the hosts and it will be a statement of intent and a marker of where McPake`s men intend to be come the end of the season: a defeat wouldn`t define anything, it would just be the first big bump on a rocky road back to the Championship.