THE Fife derby between Dunfermline Athletic and Cowdenbeath on Saturday is arguably the most important meeting between the two clubs. Following their points deduction, the Pars currently occupy the relegation play-off spot, three points behind Cowden. Dunfermline have lost their last seven home league matches and another defeat on Saturday would see them equal a club record set way back in 1927-28 – a run which coincided with the birth of Bruce Forsyth. Cowden have won just three of their last 29 matches against their hosts but they did record a 4-2 win in their most recent meeting back in February.
At the other end of the table, Partick Thistle have effectively sealed promotion already and will look to rubber-stamp their return to the SPL by picking up the point they need away to Falkirk. Falkirk hosted a title party almost ten years ago to the day – the Bairns beat Arbroath 4-1 on 19 April 2003 to win the First Division title but they were denied promotion because of Brockville’s failure to meet the SPL’s requirements. Thistle are unbeaten in their last 15 league matches, with Raith Rovers (twice) being the only team to hold them to a draw in their last 11 games. Thistle are unbeaten in their last six matches against the Bairns – if they can extend that run to seven then there will be a nice shiny trophy heading to Firhill.
Arbroath take on Stranraer at Gayfield, with both sides involved in play-off battles at opposite ends of the table. Arbroath currently sit in fifth place, just two points off Forfar Athletic in the final promotion play-off place, while Stranraer are in eighth, five clear of East Fife in ninth. The Red Lichties have lost just four of their 16 home league matches, while Stranraer have just two wins away from home all season, both of which came against the sides below them in the league. This will be the 50th league meeting of the two sides at Gayfield, with the home side dominating the previous meetings, recording 32 wins to Stranraer’s eight. It should therefore come as no surprise that Arbroath are unbeaten in their last eight matches against Stranraer at Gayfield, winning four and drawing four.
There is another top versus bottom clash at Cliftonhill as Albion Rovers take on Brechin City. Rovers are bottom of the table, seven points adrift of East Fife (but with a game in hand, also against Brechin), and could be relegated on Saturday if they lose and East Fife (who are strugglin’) beat Alloa Athletic. City, meanwhile, are in third place and could secure their play-off place with a win. Albion Rovers have picked up just seven points from their last 16 games, and amazingly, six of those points have come courtesy of two wins over Stenhousemuir. Brechin have lost four of their last six league matches, including their last two away games, but can take solace from the fact that they are unbeaten on their last nine trips to Coatbridge in the league.
The game of the day in the battle for the play-offs comes at Borough Briggs, as fourth place Elgin City welcome sixth place Berwick Rangers. Berwick occupy the final play-off place but are only ahead of fifth place Montrose on goal difference and are just one point ahead of Saturday’s opponents. Elgin have lost seven of their 16 home matches this season – only East Stirlingshire have lost more – but they will be heartened by the fact that Berwick have the third poorest away record in the league, having picked up just 12 points from 16 away games this season. Goals are usually guaranteed in this fixture – the sides have met 13 times in the league at Borough Briggs and the matches have averaged 3.9 goals per game, with every single game featuring at least two goals.
Montrose will no doubt be keeping an eye on events in Elgin, but their main focus will be on getting a win away to Clyde. Stuart Garden’s side have slipped out of the play-off places after picking up just one win in their last six matches, and they take on a Clyde side who have four victories in seven, including three wins from four at Broadwood. Amazingly, Montrose have never scored a first half goal against Clyde at Broadwood – they have visited nine times, and all eight of the goals they have scored have come in the second half.
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