Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Dunfermline Athletic - Back In The SPL

Please read below for my article on Dunfermline Athletic who recently won promotion back to the Scottish Premier League. It was published in the latest Football Focus magazine which can be viewed here for absolutely free! Included in the current issue are Leyton Orient, Crawley Town and many more football clubs.

Back In The SPL 
East End Park, the home of Dunfermline Athletic
In May 2007, Dunfermline Athletic found themselves relegated from the Scottish Premier League, but finally, four years on, they were on the brink of returning to the promised land.

With relegation to the First Division comes severe budget cuts and because of this, the Pars stuttered to a fifth place finish in their first season back in the second tier. Dunfermline sacked Irish manager Stephen Kenny and decided to invest their faith in their experienced striker Jim McIntyre who would initially take a player-manager role. Progress was initially quite slow, but over the years McIntyre removed the ageing core of the squad, bringing exciting players to the club, such as Willie Gibson, Joe Cardle and Steven Bell. The Pars began to form an exciting brand of football, with much of their creativity emerging from new signings, Cardle and Gibson.

Dunfermline trailed First Division champions Inverness Caledonian Thistle by fifteen points last season which placed McIntyre under immense pressure from the fans to deliver the goods for this year's campaign. Thankfully, they made a solid start to the term, but were unable to grind out the narrow victories that nearby rivals, Raith Rovers performed. Indeed after a 2-1 defeat to Raith in the New Year derby, some Pars fans were resigned to another season in the First Division.

However, influential winger, Willie Gibson, was snapped up for a six figure fee by Crawley Town and McIntyre was allowed to reinvest the money in the squad. Seasoned pros Kevin Rutkiewicz and Martin Hardie were brought in to add a bit of steel and experience to the squad, while Liam Buchanan, released from his Partick Thistle contract, added some much needed pace to the Pars attack.

McIntyre stressed the importance of being able to grind out victories and if necessary, ditching their attractive style of play. It was a vital decision by McIntyre, setting Dunfermline up for a nine game unbeaten streak before facing Raith again for a top of the table clash. After their impressive run of form, Dunfermline found themselves one point clear before the match and therefore would extend that gap to four points with just two games to play, if they managed to beat their Fife rivals.

On match day, Dunfermline dominated the first period, but after a goalkeeping error, found themselves a goal down at the break. However, the experienced Hardie drove his side on and scored two second half goals to place Dunfermline in the driving seat for promotion.

Director Of Football, Jim Leishman, was delighted with the victory and now sets his sights on preparing for a return to the SPL. “The league is in our hands and we have played very well throughout the season. Next seasons plans will very much depend on if we get promoted, but if we do, we will do everything we can to stay in the division.” However, if the SPL get their way and reduce the number of teams in the division to ten, there is likely to be three relegation places instead of the usual one, making survival extremely tough for the Pars.

written by Will Lyon

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