Friday 4th August 2017

AS part of Sons 24, we are once again taking an in-depth look at the nine teams who stand between Dumbarton and the points they need to achieve their goal this season.

The fifth team whose potential fortunes we look at are Dunfermline Athletic. Newly-promoted into the Championship last season, they did pretty much what was expected of them, and are now aiming to return to the top flight they last graced in 2012.

Please note that the views in this article are not necessarily those of Dumbarton FC, its board or any staff.

Dumbarton v Dunfermline Athletic: Saturday, August 26; Saturday, January 6.

Dunfermline Athletic v Dumbarton: Saturday, November 25; Saturday, April 28 (final game of season).

Last season’s meetings with Dumbarton:

Saturday, August 6 2016 – Dunfermline Athletic 4 Dumbarton 3
Saturday, October 29 2016 – Dumbarton 2 Dunfermline Athletic 2
Saturday, March 4 2017 – Dunfermline Athletic 5 Dumbarton 1
Saturday, April 15 2017 – Dumbarton 0 Dunfermline Athletic 2

Season 2017/18 so far: Betfred League Cup sectional matches –

Saturday, July 15 – Dunfermline Athletic 6 Elgin City 0
Tuesday, July 18 – East Fife 0 Dunfermline Athletic 0 (Dunfermline won on penalties)
Saturday, July 22 – Dunfermline Athletic 5 Peterhead 1
Saturday, July 29 – Hearts 2 Dunfermline Athletic 2 (Dunfermline won on penalties)

Signings: Jean-Yves M’Voto (Raith Rovers); Declan McManus (Fleetwood Town); Dean Shiels (FC Edmonton); Aaron Splaine (Kilmarnock).

First four league games: Livingston (A); Inverness CT (H); Falkirk (H); Dumbarton (A).

The run-in (last four league games): Falkirk (A); Brechin City (H); Inverness CT (A); Dumbarton (H).

Analysis: To all intents and purposes, Dunfermline Athletic’s return to the second tier of Scottish football last season was what was largely expected of them. They didn’t unduly trouble the top four, but neither did they look in significant danger of being a one-season wonder in the Championship at any stage. They kept things nice and neat too – their 36 league fixtures ended in 12 wins, 12 draws and 12 defeats. And they kept up their record of having Dumbarton almost on their mantelpiece – no team managed to take more points from Sons than they did, with 10 out of 12. Only a late Garry Fleming equaliser in October denied them a clean sweep of victories.

Two Pars players, Joe Cardle and Nicky Clark, managed hat-tricks against Dumbarton last season and the bad news is that those two are signed up again for this season. Clark’s capture from a fleeting stay at Bury last season was a particularly inspired move by the Pars, if not altogether unsurprising, given that his dad Sandy is the assistant manager to Allan Johnston. In total, he found the net 16 times, replicating to some extent the form he showed for Queen of the South before his move to Rangers in 2013.

This season is all about kicking on from a successful first campaign back at this level, and having finished fifth last time out, Dunfermline will feel that it can be done. However, while some of last season’s squad have hung around for another year, there have been some key players leaving, most notably Andy Geggan. Along with East End Park team-mate Michael Moffat, he has dropped down a division to return to Ayr United, who he played for immediately after leaving Dumbarton in 2011. Last season he still had the same dig in midfield as he is remembered for having with Sons, and will not be an easy player to replace.

There has, though, been defensive strength added in Jean-Yves M’Voto. His last game for Fife rivals Raith Rovers was not one for the scrapbook – his errors contributed to two of Brechin City’s three goals in the play-off semi-final which they then lost on penalties. However, on more than one occasion last season, Sons saw what a threat his physical presence can be from set pieces. In March, with Dumbarton leading Raith 1-0, his powerful header was kept out by one of Alan Martin’s many top class saves over the season. Sons did go on to win that game 4-0, which was not the slightest bit flattering to them, but had that header gone in, who knows how it would have worked out?

A lot points to this season being the same again for Dunfermline, although they have hinted at a strong season with their strong Betfred Cup performance. They’ll be a banana skin for the top teams, but are unlikely to challenge them barring the likes of Clark hitting the ground running, and continuing to run until April. Whatever you do, make sure you get to East End Park for at least one of Dumbarton’s games there this season – their last 10 trips to Dunfermline have resulted in a total of 52 goals! Hopefully Sons can get more of them, as the Pars are a side against whom their record has to improve.

Verdict: Not an easy team to get the better of, but simply beating last season’s points tally of 48 is their big goal this season.

Join the debate @dumbartonfc and #sons24

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