THE Pars players are ready for this afternoon’s match with bitter rivals Falkirk – but will treat it like any other game.

That’s the message from boss James McPake, who this week said that it was important for them to take the emotion that will be on show in the stands and focus on the job at hand.

John McGlynn’s side will make the short journey across the Kincardine Bridge – there’s less than 20 miles between KDM Group East End Park and the Falkirk Stadium – to renew league hostilities for the first time since 2019.

That was a season to forget for the Bairns, who were relegated from the Championship, remaining in the third tier since, with Dunfermline joining them following a disastrous campaign last term.

Dunfermline, who have won four of the last six meetings between the clubs, go into the game top of the division with 14 points, having registered four wins and two draws from their opening six games.

Falkirk, who could include former Dunfermline pair Coll Donaldson and Ryan Williamson in their side, will arrive on the back of a 2-0 defeat at Kelty Hearts last time out, and sit fifth, four points adrift of the leaders.

With Deniz Mehmet, Nikolay Todorov and Kevin O’Hara all having had spells with Athletic’s opponents, an intriguing and hard-fought clash awaits, but McPake has stressed the importance of his team treating their opponents like any other.

“You’re made aware when you come in to any job who rivals may be,” he said.

“I’m not naive enough as well; when you look at the league, and you know Falkirk are in this league, they’re going to be strong, likewise Airdrie.

“It is a big game but we’ve got to treat it like any other game, and that’s hand on heart me saying that, because it’s three points.

“There are a lot of bragging rights that go with that as well but we’ve just got to play the game. It’s only three points, it’s one game, and that’s the way we’ll look at it. That’s the same when we’re looking ahead to any game.

“We’re experienced enough in football, and we’ve been involved enough in big games, (to know) that it is only a one-off game. We’ve still got to play them four times (this Saturday included) in this league. We’ve got Clyde to play four times, we’ve got Airdrie to play three times, so you’ve got to look at it that way.

“Yeah, there will be a bigger crowd, but that’s what we want. We want to bring that to the football club. We want to be successful and, by doing that, and winning week-in, week-out, we’ll get the crowds back.

“It’s a bonus when you’re playing in front of a good crowd. It means you’re either playing in a big game or you’re doing well. That’s what we want to do.”

McPake, who said that Craig Wighton was set to train this week and could be involved at the weekend, continued: “We want to get three points, of course we do, every week, whether it’s Falkirk we’re playing, or Celtic B, where I know it’ll not be three points, but it’ll be a win to get us through (in the SPFL Trust Trophy), or Peterhead the following week.

“We look at games in different batches, see how many positive results we can get, and this one is no different.”

The Pars boss is anticipating a tough game against the Bairns, who he knows will be eager to make up for their defeat Kelty Hearts in their last outing.

"We enjoy having our crowd behind us, so we're delighted to be back home," McPake said.

"The (home) record has been good but I think the big thing has been that the performances have been good, and that's what's got the crowd on our side, got them right behind us, and making it a tough place for other teams to go to.

"We're expecting the same on Saturday; it's going to be a really hard game. Falkirk are coming off the back of a defeat in their last game at Kelty, so it's one where they'll be looking to amends for that defeat, and we're looking to continue with our decent start, and that's all it's been so far.

"This is just another game that's leading into another tough run of fixtures.

"They're a young group with some experience in it as well, but the newer players that have come in - whether it's been Chris Mochrie on loan, or Kyle Benedictus, Max Little, Chris Hamilton - whoever it's been, Sam Fisher coming into the group on loan as well, they've all taken to each other.

"They're a good group but the results help, and the performances certainly help".

With their match at Clyde postponed last weekend, the Pars squad trained, and McPake added: "They've been really good, really bright and looking forward to the game as well. You've got to remember that; the players want to be back at home, the players want to be playing on our pitch. They see it every day, so they're looking forward to it, and they're the ones that matter really.

"They've been bright and been training well."