Will we be ruled by our Hearts or our Heads?Date: Thursday, 16th Aug 2018
As Dunfermline prepare to take on Heart of Midlothian this weekend in the BetFred Cup Last 16, East End Park will have an air of optimism around it, from both sets of supporters.
Dunfermline come into the tie with 6 wins out of 7 in all competitions so far this season, while, the Jambos head into this contest as the "top dogs" of Scottish football: Craig Levein`s side currently sit too of the Scottish Premiership with maximum points from 2 matches, the only team in the topflight to do so.
Allan Johnston has a headache, of the good kind; with the reported news that Danny Devine is back in training, while Tom Beadling is back in the fold as well, adds extra competition for places heading into this eagerly anticipated cup-tie.
Hearts on the other hand are trying to hang on to striker Kyle Lafferty, who may be on the verge of a return to Rangers. Will this be a distraction for the Capital club or will forwards Steven Naismith, Steven MacLean and Uche Ikpeazu be more than enough for the Pars defence to deal with?
If you use your Heart, you would like to think DAFC can win this game: they defeated Hearts last term - albeit under the stewardship of Ian Cathro, who was quickly out the door following the clubs BetFred Cup disaster. However, the players have tasted success in big matches over the past few campaigns; whether it be winning and Tynecastle or defeating Dundee earlier in the competition, Johnston`s men have shown Athletic not to be pushovers.
But, if you rule with your Head, you consider the form of the Edinburgh club, the strength in depth in which they have, as well as the 5,000 strong crowd which will cheer them on come 3pm on Saturday afternoon. When you compare the results of last weekend (with Hearts beating Celtic while Dunfermline lose to Ross County), it is hard to see psst the visitors heading through to the Quarter-Finals.
Football is an unpredictable sport though and that was shown adequately on Tuesday evening as a young Dunfermline side triumphed in the Highlands to knock an experienced Inverness Caledonian Thistle side out of the Irn-Bru Cup. As well as standing up and being counted, the Pars `second string` showed what a positive attitude, togetherness and a bit of fight can do to a group. Despite the disappointment of losing an equaliser, boys became men as they battled to victory.
If the Fifers can show these qualities on Saturday, there is no reason why DAFC cannot progress to the next round. It is doubtful, though, to think an experienced manager such as Levein would allow his side to casually saunter their way through the 90 minutes at East End Park, as John Robertson said after Tuesday evening`s game, it is the players who cross that white line who control the tempo; they have the desire and they are the guys tasked with putting in a shift... If Hearts are in any way complacent or off their game, then today`s optimism can turn into tomorrow`s delight.
The visitors will run out to a large away support, but, the Pars fans will be out in force too. A terrific atmosphere can spur Dunfermline on to upset the odds: I think our Hearts have won. Let`s make sure it isn`t the real Hearts!