Good Signs During Group StageDate: Wednesday, 26th Jul 2023
It was a successful pre-season for Dunfermline Athletic, with just one defeat during the friendly matches, coming in their first match against Bundesliga 2 side FC. St. Pauli.
This stood them in good stead going into the Group Stages of the Viaplay Cup, with the competitive action beginning in earnest with a trip to face local rivals Raith Rovers up first.
Stark`s Park was awash with TV cameras as Viaplay Sports chose this as it`s inaugural opening live broadcast of the 2023-2024 Scottish Football season on their channel, and they weren`t to be left disappointed. An entertaining game saw a 1-1 draw between the sides, with Lewis McCann`s opener being cancelled out by Dylan Easton, who equalised for the Kirkcaldy club.
Matty Todd would step forward and score the winning penalty in a decisive shoot-out, which gained the Pars a `Bonus Point`.
Highlights: Raith Rovers 1-1 Dunfermline Athletic (Dunfermline Athletic win 4-2 on Penalties)
Up next, was the first competitive home match of the term, with Peter Murphy`s Annan Athletic visiting KDM Group East End Park just 3 days after the Fife Derby. It started off well, with Sam Fisher grabbing an opener and then McCann being credited with a goal which looked slightly fortuitous for James McPake`s men.
However, around the half-hour mark, things turned sour with a nasty injury for Todd; the early signs are he could be out for a prolonged period, which is not good news for Athletic, who are already missing Kane Ritchie-Hosler due to a similar problem, for a similar length of time. McCann`s second-half double to complete his hat-trick sealed an emphatic win for Dunfermline in front of 1300 happy home fans.
Highlights: Dunfermline Athletic 4-0 Annan Athletic
Just a few days later and KDM Group East End Park would host Match-Day 3 in the Viaplay Cup for Athletic, with the men wearing Black & White hosting Premiership side Kilmarnock. It would be a tough opening, with ex-loanee Fraser Murray tucking the ball home following a Corrie Ndaba pull-back to give Derek McInnes` side an early advantage.
Despite losing Todd in the previous game, 17-year old Andy Tod would be given his starting debut for the Football Club and was impressive against Killie, with the youngster coming closest for the Pars, seeing Will Dennis pull off a smart stop to keep the Ayrshire club in front. And then the sucker-punch came with under ten minutes to go, as Kyle Vassell rifled home a left-footed shot to seal all 3 points for the visitors.
Highlights: Dunfermline Athletic 0-2 Kilmarnock
Heading into the final match in Group F for Dunfermline Athletic, they travelled to the lowest ranked side in their Viaplay Cup section, Albion Rovers. Managed by former DAFC Assistant Manager Sandy Clark, the newly relegated Lowland League side wouldn`t be a walk in the park for the Championship side. Despite dropping out the SPFL, the Cliftonhill side stayed strong for the majority of the match, but the visitors quality shone through in the end.
Josh Edwards would notch his first goal of the campaign with a left-footed rasping drive which soared past Ross Connelly in the Albion goal. Then, with 10 minutes to go, Craig Wighton flicked home a second for Dunfermline – also grabbing his first goal of the new season.
Tod started once again but it was another 17-year old Academy Graduate who completed the scoring, as Taylor Sutherland slammed home a third goal to seal all three points. A final total of 8 points from a possible 12 means that (at the time of writing) Athletic`s destiny is unknown, albeit their chances of qualifying to the Last 16 look slim.
However, either way, it has been a positive opening to the 2023-2024 season with plenty to be optimistic about.
Highlights: Albion Rovers 0-3 Dunfermline Athletic