Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Dunfermline Close the Gap - But Saints Can Cling On

St Mirren 0 – 1 Dunfermline (McManus)

Time for me to eat my hat then? Having written Dunfermline off, they’re doing their best to prove me wrong.

This crucial victory, in a classic "six pointer," has moved them to within a point of St Mirren and their current momentum suggests that they might kick off next season’s European campaign in the SPL.

But, and there’s always a but, I still think St Mirren will pull it off. For both teams, and excuse the cliché, the next three games are cup finals. Dunfermline have been in that situation since the turn of the year. And, with the added factor of their epically convoluted semi final against Hibs, I think the players are going to run out of steam.

With the recent sale of Love Street St Mirren could probably, at least financially, cope with relegation better than Dunfermline. But, with the memory of the struggles to get promoted still fresh, I can see the players digging deep and clinging on – just.

Rather like Gretna and St Johnstone, early season form will be rewarded at the expense of a late push.

What then happens to Dunfermline is anybody’s guess. The Scottish Cup Final and the UEFA Cup will swell the coffers. But which players will stay is unclear. Stephen Kenny has proved he is a decent manager and he will fancy chances in the First Division – but other clubs will already have noted his potential.

So there it is – another of my unpredictable predictions. Dunfermline to go down. And, if I'm pushed, to stay down for some time.

The crowd tonight was fantastic - over 10,000 filled Love Street. Both teams will be looking for more of the same over the next couple of weeks.

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