HIBS v DUNFERMLINE - Match Preview

Last updated : 16 December 2004 By Pars Mad

A Pars fan takes in last year's fairly chilly Easter Road encounter
What a difference a year makes! This time last year, a Pars side high on confidence travelled to Easter Road in search of their third straight win.

A sign of the times maybe then that, this Saturday, the Pars go into the fixture against the boys (more like nursery kids) from Leith looking to avoid a fourth straight defeat. And, with the Pars sitting only three points off the bottom, three points is surely the only option for a Pars side desperately lacking in confidence and, more importantly, points!

With Tony Mowbray’s Hibs side enjoying nothing short of a superb campaign so far, Saturday’s fixture at Easter Road looks a somewhat frightening prospect considering the contrasting fortunes of the two sides. Playing an attractive and attacking style of football, Mowbray’s young Hibs side seem to be the pundit’s dream at the moment, with pundit after pundit lining up to heap praise on the Leith side. Yet, with Mowbray’s side sitting in fourth place – three points behind Aberdeen and three ahead of Edinburgh rivals Hearts – who can blame any pundit for praising one of the country’s most exciting young sides. Boasting a host of excellent young prospects, the Hibees future looks set for many a year to come with youngsters such as Steven Fletcher, Gary O’Connor and Derek Riordan – when not on the piss or in the jail – putting in some impressive performances.

The claim that Hibs are a bigger club than the Pars certainly comes into play when you sneak a glance at the overall match record between the sides. Whilst the Pars have recorded a total of 22 victories in their 94 encounters with the Hibees, the
Leith side has recorded a somewhat larger 39 victories. In a similar vane, the Pars record at the home of the Hibees – Easter Road – is just as discouraging despite a recent excellent vein of form down in Leith – the Pars recording just six victories in 46 encounters, losing 27. Add this to the fact that the Pars never truly find it easy to score – a problem not experienced by many punters – down Leith way, with the Pars managing only 48 goals in the 46 Edinburgh encounters – the hosts managing a truly worrying 111 goals (well over an average of two goals a game) against the Pars.

However, as aforesaid, despite this poor overall record, the Pars’ recent Easter Road record against the Hibees is nothing short of superb. Failing to lose in five fixtures at Easter Road, the Pars have four of those in, at times, emphatic fashion – 2002’s 4-1 victory and 2003’s 3-1 victory spring to mind. The Pars previous across the forth to Easter Road produced yet another memorable for the Pars courtesy, for the most part, to the recently-departed Craig Brewster whose glorious double secured the Pars an excellent 2-1 victory almost exactly twelve months ago (Sunday the 21st of December). Coming only seven days after the historic 2-0 win over Paulo Vanoli’s Rangers side, the Pars took to the field on a freezing cold Sunday afternoon against Bobby Williamson’s young Hibs side. Before many had managed to get to their seats, the Pars took an early lead thanks to a close range Craig Brewster effort only minutes into the game. The small band of travelling Pars supporters were sent ecstatic shortly after when the legendary Brew grabbed a stunning second, sending a terrific long-range effort flying into Daniel Andersson’s top right-hand corner. Despite a late Derek Riordan strike, the Pars managed to hold on for an excellent three points edging the club ever closer to the dizzy heights of third place – oh how times have changed.

You know, the saying ‘one step forward, two steps back’ could hardly be more apt for the Pars. If not in terms of results, then certainly in terms of injuries. With the injury crisis seemingly beginning to improve at
East End – with Hunt and Dempsey returning – what happens? Simon Donnelly gets laid out for six weeks with a broken foot, leaving the Pars not so much staring into a striking crisis as a striking abyss. With Greg Shields, Derek Young and Ritchie Byrne all definitely missing through long term injury, Saturday’s fixture once again sees the Pars travelling away with the team coach somewhat bereft of a first choice side. Having said that, on a more positive note, the Pars could take to the field on Saturday with a first-choice centre-half pairing after the participation of Lithuanian Andrius Skerla in Monday’s Reserve team fixture against Dundee Utd. With the team once again regaining the tendency to leak goals rather frequently – and with Hibs striker Derek Riordan already with 10 goals to his name this season – the possible return of Skerla to the starting line-up undoubtedly signals the best bit of news to come out of East End in a long, long time.

With a certain festive day of the year fast approaching, one things for sure…a Pars win this Saturday would certainly make that Christmas turkey taste all the sweeter. Let’s just hope that a certain fat man in a suit (no not Jimmy Calderwood!) is also a Pars man and this Saturday brings a little bit of early festive – or any kind of – cheer for us beleaguered Pars fans!