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Heading towards last chance saloon After what seems like an entire season of games put on hold in the Winter of our discontent, we should take on fellow promotion hopefuls Dunfermline Athletic on Tuesday night. It's getting to the stage for both clubs where only a win will suffice. This game has been knocked back already due to inclement weather and frozen pipes but it looks like it could go ahead this time. Our last competitive game was on 24th February when we went down 0-2 against Morton in the Highlands. We only managed two games throughout February. The other one was the IrnBru Cup game against Irish side Crusaders which saw us get into the final after a pulsating 3-2 win. We will play Dumbarton at McDiarmid Park, Perth, in a couple of weeks. The fixtures are now stacking up for Inverness and we will be playing twice a week for the foreseeable future. Dunfermline are without a win in their last seven games since they defeated Dumbarton 0-1 on 6th January. Their last game was a 2-0 defeat to leaders St Mirren at the weekend. They still lead Inverness by five points and sit just outside the play-off zone in sixth place, but we do have two games in hand. We were dropped down into eighth position at the weekend when Falkirk beat Morton 3-1, and only Dumbarton and Brechin are below us. Our season now hinges on us making a grandstand finish to the season, but with our player of the year so far Coll Donaldson injured, it looks like the IrnBru Cup might be our only crumb of comfort after the massive rejig following relegation. Dunfermline warned us how tough this league was going to be by trouncing us 5-1 in the second league game of the season. We did gain a modicum of revenge with a 1-0 win at the Caledonian Stadium at the end of October, but only six wins from thirteen Championship fixtures since then has seen us struggle to climb the league. It's like one step forward and two back at the minute. Coll Donaldson and Nathan Austin are both out with hamstring injuries but Robbo should have a full squad otherwise. Here's the Pars line up in their last outing at St Mirren. Dunfermline: Robinson, Williamson, Talbot, M'Voto, Ashcroft, Craigen, Beadling, Vincent, Armstrong, McManus, Clark. SUBS: Gill, Morris, Martin, Cardle, Wedderburn, Higginbotham, Ryan tm4tj prediction:- With our lack of action recently it's difficult to guess how we will react to our inactivity. Coll Donaldson missing out is a big blow and our cover up front is thin with John Baird off to Morton and Nathan Austin injured. Dunfermline fans don't seem too bothered if we were to help remove Magic Johnston from the managers seat, so let's see if we can help them out here and record an away win. It looks like a tall order though, so I'm going with a no score draw.
Danube to Dunfermline Inverness face Dunfermline on Tuesday night in the League Cup stages where it's getting to the point where only a win will be sufficient to keep us in the competition. Alternative Maryhill looks ahead to this clash, a far cry from one year ago in the scorching heat on the banks of the Danube. For the second year in a row, Inverness Caledonian Thistle’s players find themselves facing a hazardous trip to a post-Communist wasteland needing an away win to avoid elimination from a major trophy before the league season has even begun. Last July it was Giurgiu, Romania; this July, it is West Fife. Despite an opening win against Cowdenbeath and a draw on Saturday against Dundee Utd, ICT already find themselves trailing the Dundee club by three points and Dunfermline by two in the Scottish League Cup Group C league table, having played the same number of games as Dunfermline and one fewer than Utd. Thanks to Utd’s comprehensive win over Cowdenbeath, however, they also boast a goal difference that is four superior to Caley Thistle’s. With only the group winners and four best runners-up progressing to the knock-out stages of the tournament, then realistically, Richie Foran’s men must assume they will have to win both remaining fixtures in order to progress, beginning on Tuesday at East End Park. While the two fixtures ICT have already played may not have yielded as many goals or points as hoped for, they have provided reasons for optimism. The more direct attacking style promised by Foran is already in evidence, with loan signing Billy King proving a handful for the Dundee Utd defence in Saturday’s game, and Jake Mulraney having looked quick, tricky and eager to take on opponents in each of his second-half substitute appearances. Kevin McNaughton, covering for the injured Josh Meekings, offers great game-awareness and composure and looks as comfortable in the middle of the defence as he does in his preferred full back position. Foran must also be grateful to have retained the core of Tansey, Draper and Warren, players who have long since proven themselves to be among the best in Scotland in their positions, and who were typically committed and industrious in the two games to date. If there is an area in the team that still seems to be lacking, it is up front: Scott Boden did well to set up Ross Draper for his goal against Cowdenbeath and to head the opener in the Dundee Utd game, but ideally, if the chances that the likes of King, Mulraney and Polworth are capable of creating are to be converted, then Foran will hope to bring in a slightly more mobile option up front, either to partner or alternate with Boden. Dunfermline’s supporters and management are also justified in feeling optimistic about the season ahead, however. Promoted as champions from League One to the Championship, they have got off to a flyer in the League Cup with three-goal victories against Arbroath and Cowdenbeath, and although they will feel the loss of their talented forward Faisal El Bakhtaoui, they still have a proven goalscorer up front in Michael Moffat as well as Andy Geggan providing goals from midfield – three in the two League Cup games so far. Over the summer, the Pars have added ex-Kilmarnock and Partick forward Kallum Higginbotham, a rumoured ICT signing target, ex-Kilmarnock defender Lee Ashcroft, also a scorer against Cowdenbeath on Saturday, young Celtic striker Paul McMullan on loan, and of course, our own man-mountainous, if somewhat ponderous, Nat Wedderburn, who should help to shore up the midfield. With the addition of so many players with Premiership experience, it is clear that Dunfermline are looking to mount a serious challenge in what should be a highly competitive Championship this season. Being of a more cautious and perhaps pessimistic cast of mind than our previous previewer, I'm not going to offer a result or scoreline prediction; I will predict, however, that this will be a tough game, and another close one. Richie Foran's ICT side and philosophy may still be taking shape, but already we look like a hard-working and well-organised side that will not lie down to anybody, but also, for the moment, a side that struggles somewhat to convert chances. Hopefully Tuesday will be the day when that starts to change.