The Curse Of CappielowDate: Friday, 21st Sep 2018
Dunfermline Athletic travel to Greenock for match-day six of the SPFL Ladbrokes Championship, sitting in eighth place, with only 1 win to their name all term.
On the other hand, hosts Morton sit just outside of the playoff spaces, 5 points ahead of the Pars. Despite early season upheaval with newly appointed manager Ray McKinnon leaving for bottom side Falkirk, and being replaced by rookie Jonatan Johansson, the former Finish internationalist has continued the good fortunes of the Inverclyde club.
A 1-1 draw last weekend away to Dundee United may look like a good point on the road, but, Fraser Fyvie`s 93-minute leveller denied the Ton a victory which would have saw them leap up into third position.
Allan Johnston`s men have been in indifferent form, unfortunately, with two 0-0 draws being the best the Fifers could muster in recent weeks. Heavy defeats to Ross County, Ayr United and Inverness Caledonian Thistle have left the East End Park side low on belief and confidence, as they head to a ground in which they`ve struggled at in recent seasons.
Nat Wedderburn`s tap-in during the 2016-17 campaign is the only positive from the previous 5 meetings at Cappielow; the 1-0 victory near the end of the regular season helped the West Fife side finish 5th in their first season back in the Championship.
However, the four other ties have ended in a home win - with heartache still fresh in the minds of the DAFC faithful following two horrific comebacks by Jim Duffy`s side last term. In the first meeting, Kallum Higginbotham and Joe Cardle had the Pars ahead but the hosts fought back to win 3-2 in dramatic fashion as Jai Quitongo raced through on goal to slot home an injury time winner.
The last meeting in Port Glasgow was not much better; a Tom Beadling debut strike had the Pars on cloud nine until Michael Tidser quickly equalised. It was another late, late, goal which denied Dunfermline as Lee Robinson`s error allowed Gary Oliver a simple finish to silence the travelling support.
The record against Morton in recent seasons, in general, is very poor, as well, it must be said: only 2 wins in the past 12 meetings does not bode well for Johnston and his troops ahead of Saturday`s showdown. Another Jai Quitongo effort saw Dunfermline`s Scottish Cup hopes 50 years on from their heroics at Hampden in 1968 fade away as the striker once again notched late on, this time at East End Park.
It was eloquently put by ParsTV co-commentator Neil Henderson on last Saturday`s coverage of the Alloa Athletic match, as he previewed the trip to Greenock: "The good news; Jai Quitongo has left Morton... The bad news, he`s joined Partick Thistle!"
With the threat of Quitongo gone, that shouldn`t get pulses racing just yet - midfielder Tidser has been in incredible form so far this season, accumulating 6 goals in his 9 appearances so far this campaign.
Familiar faces Ryan Scully; Gregor Buchanan and Robert Thomson could face their former club while experienced duo Chris Millar and Jim McAllister have returned to the club this summer and bolster the central options.
With Ryan Williamson, Lewis Martin, Sean Murdoch and Kallum Higginbotham all still missing for Dunfermline, it will be another chance for youngsters such as Matthew Todd, Lewis McCann, Brandon Luke and Stuart Morrison yo potentially get some minutes. Tom Beadling may return to increase competitive within the group, but, this match may come too early in his rehab process following an injury-plagued few months. Aidan Keena will also miss out as he continues to recuperate following an operation.
Many big decisions await Johnston, Clark and the DA`s backroom team. With results and performances needing to be improved upon immediately, the players will know the requirement has to be three points. Coming away with a hard fought draw may also be considered a good result, all things considered, but, as the manager has admitted himself, the Pars need to get back onto the winning trail and there`s no better way to begin that, than by defeating the Ton and hopefully killing the Cappielow hoodoo in the process.
A massive match awaits... COYP!