They say records are there to be broken, and in Davie Hay’s case nothing could be closer to the truth!
The Great Disappearing Fabian - Now you see... now you don't!
Travelling to the Almondvale Stadium or City Stadium (or whatever their calling it this week!) the Pars had enjoyed a fairly decent unbeaten run at against Livingston stretching back a good wee while. But, sure enough, Mr Hay put paid to that! And this Saturday it’s the turn to wreck our recent excellent record against Jim Duffy’s Dundee side.
With a win appearing vital for the Pars, Hay’s side travel to Dens Park this Saturday with the worst ‘Goals For’ record in Britain and with no goals scored away from East End Park in the league all season. You can feel the confidence soaring with every line can’t you! With journalists and pundits alike continually voicing their opinions that Davie Hay, not can but, WILL turn the club around, Pars fans are still waiting for that elusive turnaround to occur. Although to be fair, in can be said that Hay has masterminded a turnaround at the club already; he’s turned a talented group of players that finished fourth in the table and runners-up in the Scottish Cup into a team short on confidence, ideas and, above all else, effort. A remarkable turnaround considering he’s only had twelve games in charge of the side!
Sitting in eighth spot with nine points after a fairly successful start to the season, Jim Duffy’s Dundee side will prove to be anything but a soft touch this Saturday as the Pars attempt to get their season back on track. With a host of talented players, including youngsters John Sutton, Stephen McNally – the defender earning rave reviews for his performance in last weeks win against Kilmarnock – and the more-experienced Jonay Hernandez, Dundee will more than pose a threat to a Pars side seemingly bereft of confidence or ability. Just as interesting on Saturday may be the ‘will he, won’t he’ saga involving Fabian Caballero and whether or not the Paraguayan will ever play for The Dee again after his latest disappearing act. A disappearing act only matched by the Pars defence at frequent times this season.
Enjoying just two wins in twelve, the Pars can perhaps take solace from their encouraging recent record against the Dee, with the Pars unbeaten in the last five against their Tayside opponents. Even more so encouraging for Pars fans and players is the recent Dens Park record which sees the Pars unbeaten in six – the last loss at Dens Park coming as far back as August 2000. A win in Saturday’s match could also signal another minor achievement for Hay’s side with their overall match record against The Dee currently reading; Played 88 Won 34 Drawn19 Lost 35, with the Pars somewhat lacking in joy of late, any achievement – even one as insignificant as equaling our overall record with Dundee – must surely be cause for content. The Pars overall Dens Park record fails to offer such an opportunity, with the Pars winning just eleven times in 44 encounters, losing eighteen.
Boasting a very decent record against Jim Duffy’s men of late, the Pars enjoyed a 100% record against The Dee lasts season, winning all three encounters with The Dens Park side.
The first of those encounters was to come on only the second day of the season – the 17th of August – with the Pars running out convincing 2-0 winners at Dens Park thanks to a Lee Wilkie own goal just before half-time and a Stevie Crawford clincher late in the second-half. In what seemed like a sign of things to come, the Pars put in an excellent performance with the score line slightly deceiving the fact that the Pars could, and possibly should, have added to their advantage.
The second meeting between the sides was to prove just as fruitful for the Pars, with Calderwood’s men running out, once again, convincing 2-0 winners on the 22nd of November. In what was to prove to be the start of an excellent run for the club – one which would culminate in Calderwood’s Manager of the Month award for December – the Pars ran out 2-0 winners thanks to a Stevie Crawford double in front of the East End Park faithful.
The third, and final, meeting of the season between the two sides, played on the 14th of February, was to again prove to be a successful three points for the Pars, with the visitors scrapping out a hard-fought 1-0 win. Played out at a fairly sunny Dens Park – especially for February! – a fairly young Pars side earned an excellent three points thanks to a close range Noel Hunt effort early in the second-half.
The participation of Ritchie Byrne in the recent reserve fixture against Livingston will no doubt provide some joy for the beleaguered Pars support. Severely lacking balance on the left-hand side, the return of Ritchie – a fans favourite despite his recent ‘transfer request’ – to the side for Saturday’s encounter could well be on the cards. The reserve fixture also saw the participation of Gary Mason and Derek Young, with both recently returning from their own injury problems. With the injury of Gary Dempsey creating a void in the Pars midfield, it would seem likely that Young or Mason will be included – with the latter the far more likely to take up the centre-midfield berth. Saturday’s contest at Dens Park could also be the first opportunity for Pars fans to catch a glimpse of recent signing Stephen Bradley, although Saturday’s match could well prove to be too soon for the ex-Arsenal midfielder.
With three games in the space of a week, including two consecutive Saturday trips to the City of Discovery, the next week or so could well prove to be a defining period in the Pars – so far faltering – season. After last week’s dismal performance against Livingston, a match which even moved the normally placid Davie Hay to furiously describe the performance as “not acceptable” – easy Davie!! – the Pars have no other option but to improve. The more experienced players have to take responsibility and ensure the Pars can pull away from – what is turning out to be – a dogfight at the bottom of the table.
If performances do not improve then it would seem apparent that the already apathetic Pars support could well continue to ‘vote with their feet’ and stop forking out their hard-earned cash to watch the bile which is currently being served up by the Pars.
One thing is for sure however. If the Pars continue to perform as they have been doing then, like it or not, a relegation dogfight beckons!!!