ANOTHER Saturday, another derby in Fife. This time, Raith Rovers welcome Dunfermline to Stark’s Park. Curiously, Raith have beaten Dunfermline more times at East End Park than they have at home, with 20 away wins compared to 17 at home. The overall head-to-head between the sides is very close, but the Pars have the slight upper hand with 43 wins to Raith’s 37. Each of the last 14 matches between the sides have produced two or more goals – the last game which failed to do so was a Premier Division clash in March 1997.
Rovers have won their last two matches against the Pars at home and if they win on Saturday, it will be the first time they’ve recorded three home wins in a row against Dunfermline in national competitions. Grant Murray’s side are unbeaten in their last ten home matches in all competitions – their best run since a 12 match streak in their 2008-09 promotion winning season in Division Two. Dunfermline conceded five goals against Partick Thistle last week, the first time they had done so in the league since a 5-0 thumping from Hamilton at East End Park in 2007. That defeat started a seven-match winless streak which finished off Stephen Kenny’s managerial career in Fife.
Tomorrow night, league leaders Partick Thistle will look to follow up that 5-1 mauling by taking three points from their trip to take on Hamilton. The sides also met in a Friday night game at the same venue in January, with Greig Spence scoring the only goal of the game to give the Accies the win. This will be the 70th meeting of the sides in South Lanarkshire, with the home side dominating things to date with 34 wins to the Jags’ 20. Thistle have not won on any of their last seven trips to New Douglas Park – their last success came back in September 2006.
Leaders Queen of the South will be looking to preserve the only unbeaten league record in the SFL when they travel to Arbroath. In contrast to Queens’ unbeaten run, Arbroath have lost their last two league games – they last lost three-in-a-row in January 2010 during a season in which they were relegated from Division Two. The Doonhamers are unbeaten in seven matches against the Red Lichties – Arbroath’s last win in the fixture was a 5-2 success in Match 2001 in the last third tier match between the sides at Gayfield.
In the southwest, Ayr United face the nearest thing they’ll get to a local derby any time soon when they host Stranraer. The Honest Men have an exemplary record against their forthcoming opponents at Somerset Park – in 36 visits to Ayr, Stranraer have only tasted success on five occasions. On top of that, the Blues have lost each of their last seven away league matches (excluding play-off games).
Even further south, Berwick Rangers host Annan Athletic as both teams look to keep themselves in the hunt for the play-off places in Division Three. The sides will meet for the 20th time in national competitions, and eight of the previous 19 have finished as draws – although none of them have been goalless. Of the matches which didn’t end in stalemate, Berwick have six wins to Annan’s five. The good news for Annan is that four of those wins came at Shielfield – indeed, they are unbeaten in their last five vists and have won the most recent three. Annan have yet to win away from home this season – their win at Shielfield in February is one of only three away victories they have recorded in 2012. Berwick are unbeaten in their last nine home league matches, having last suffered defeat back in March.
Elsewhere in the division, Montrose take on Queen’s Park in another battle between two sides with play-off ambitions. Montrose have won just one of their last 19 matches against the Spiders, but that victory came in their most recent meeting at Links Park in April. The teams go into the match in contrasting form: Montrose are three games unbeaten in the league (something they failed to achieve at any point last season); Queen’s Park, meanwhile, have gone four league matches without a win.
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