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Relegation: What needs to happen for Dunfermline to finish 9th in the Championship

The Pars could still face the dreaded play-offs this season if results go against them.

Lewis McCann can't hide his disappointment as Dunfermline Athletic F.C. are relegated in 2022.
Dunfermline suffered relegation via the play-offs in 2022. Image: SNS.

Dunfermline go into the final two games of the season with the spectre of a relegation play-off place still hanging over them.

Only a fortnight ago, the chatter was around the possibility of a shot at promotion.

But a 2-1 defeat to Airdrie put paid to those hopes.

Instead, despite sitting sixth in the table, they still have to ward off fears of being dragged into a battle to beat the drop.

A goalless draw against Queen’s Park last weekend left the Pars in a fairly strong position.

Stuart McKinstry goes for goal but Dunfermline's defence gave little away.
Dunfermline fought out a goalless draw with Queen’s Park to give them a six-point lead over the Spiders. Image: Craig Brown / DAFC.

They enjoy a six-point lead – with a better goal difference – over the Spiders, who occupy second-bottom spot.

After rivals Raith Rovers did Dunfermline a favour with a 1-0 win in the Highlands last Friday, Inverness Caley Thistle in eighth are also five points adrift of the Fifers.

And James McPake’s side have the additional buffer of Ayr United one place below them in seventh.

Even one point from a possible six in the coming days – or either Queen’s Park or Inverness failing to win – removes relegation as a possibility.

However, the way the fixtures fall this weekend, and in the final round next Friday, there remains a scenario where the East End Park men could finish in ninth place.

That could bring back bad memories of two years ago when John Hughes’ side were relegated following a play-off defeat to Queen’s Park.

Saturday, April 27

Arbroath V Queen’s Park
Dunfermline V Inverness Caley Thistle
Partick Thistle V Ayr United

Whatever happens, Queen’s Park need to beat Arbroath.

Given the Red Lichties are already headed for League One and have nothing but pride to play for, that seems distinctly possible.

They may not have ‘downed tools’ as accused by Inverness boss Duncan Ferguson, but the Gayfield hosts have lost their last eight games in a row.

David Wotherspoon of Inverness and Dunfermline defender Josh Edwards compete for the ball.
Dunfermline and Inverness drew 1-1 on their last meeting at East End Park back in November. Image: Ross Parker / SNS Group.

Inverness also have to win their remaining two games to catch the Pars.

Given the teams play each other, a Caley Thistle victory would also mean a Dunfermline defeat.

Depending on goal difference, Ayr could just need one point to leapfrog the Fifers, so could afford to lose to Partick Thistle this weekend.

But a win would take the Honest Men into sixth with a Pars loss.

Possible points

Dunfermline 43
Ayr United 42/43/45
Inverness 41
Queen’s Park 40

Friday, May 3

Ayr United V Dunfermline
Inverness Caley Thistle V Morton
Queen’s Park V Airdrie

It could all come down to a dramatic final day of the Championship.

Again, for Dunfermline to finish second-bottom, they would need to lose.

Given they are playing away at Ayr, then a defeat would also earn the hosts the points they would need to jump above the Pars in the table.

Inverness host a Morton side with little to play for, given they are already safe from relegation and cannot catch Airdrie in fourth place.

Dunfermline and Ayr United players battle for a high ball.
Dunfermline earned a 2-0 win the last time they faced Ayr United. Image: Craig Brown / DAFC.

If Caley Thistle repeat the kind of battling performance that should have taken more against Raith, then a win could be on the cards.

Finally, Queen’s Park host Airdrie at Hampden needing to win.

The Diamonds will be gearing up for their play-off encounter with Partick Thistle and could decide to rest players for a promotion push.

As well as two Queen’s Park wins and two defeats for Dunfermline, there would need to be an eight-goal swing in goal difference for Callum Davidson’s side to overhaul the Pars.

It all adds up to an unlikely scenario but the Pars will be desperate for at least a point against Inverness this weekend to not to tempt fate.

Possible points

Ayr United 45/46/48
Inverness 44
Queen’s Park 43
Dunfermline 43