Dundee and Dundee United both face away days on the astroturf this weekend but there’s plenty of reasons why both should be positive on the plastic.
The Dark Blues head to Livingston’s Tony Macaroni Arena hoping to give their survival bid a boost while the Tangerines are at Palmerston Park to face Queen of the South with a chance to close the gap on leaders Ross County at the top of the Championship.
Here’s five reasons both can head to their dates on the astroturf with optimism:
He’s still inexperienced and learning his way in first-team football, but loan signing Seny Dieng has been an assured and assuring presence between the sticks for Dundee.
He’s yet to get himself a clean sheet for the Dark Blues but his ability to power through a crowd and claim crosses could be vital against Livingston’s attack on Saturday. Last time there, Dundee conceded four goals from set-pieces – with Dieng on duty, they have a goalkeeper who can deal with an aerial assault.
In his short time at the club, Aussie McGowan has added steel to a backline that had been creaking all season.
Without doing anything flashy, the former United man has used his experience and made Dundee harder to beat.
On a hard surface pace can be key and boss Jim McIntyre has added plenty of it with the signings of Andy Dales, Andrew Nelson and Scott Wright. That gives Dundee a real counter-attacking threat.
The striker has started his Dens career on fire with three goals in three games and will be full of confidence going into this one.
He’ll be in for a physical battle against the Livi backline but he’s revelled in that at Dundee so far.
The 4-0 defeat on his debut in the dugout back in October will have stung the Dark Blues boss and he’ll be making sure this team doesn’t suffer the same fate.
He’s brought in players he can trust to do their individual jobs – something the team in October fell down on.
The impact of centre-backs Mark Reynolds and Mark Connolly has already been highlighted and they’ll be key men again up against the front pairing of Queen of the South.
The Doonhamers have the sharpest marksman in the country up top in Stephen Dobbie but don’t forget his support act, Lyndon Dykes, who has set up eight of Dobbie’s 19 league goals this season.
Though they’ll be missing midfield hard man Calum Butcher through suspension, boss Robbie Neilson has added plenty of steel to the middle of the park.
Morgaro Gomis may be the one chosen to come in on a tough away day with Fraser Fyvie also pushing for a return. Displacing Ian Harkes after Saturday’s display at St Mirren, however, will be no easy task.
The striker is beginning to make the impact expected after his summer switch from Dunfermline and knows all about scoring goals at Palmerston.
As Queens won the last-ever Second Division, Clark was the star as he rattled in 41 goals and equalled an 80-year-old record – a record now under threat by Dobbie.
His delicate lob against St Mirren was his seventh of the season and one he’s hoping can kickstart his United career in front of goal.
Another frontman reinvigorated by January’s transfer business is Slovakian international Safranko after two goals in his last two and three in four. He grabbed his first goal in Tangerine at Palmerston at the start of the season.
Big signing Osman Sow is still waiting for his first start but could be forced to watch on for longer if both Clark and Safranko continue to hit the net.
United’s form overall since the turn of the year has been good with four wins, one draw and one defeat.
Queens, meanwhile, have been sliding with three defeats in their last four.
Going by the formbook, United should be confident.