FOOTBALL Aberdeen are desperate to avoid drop

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The Independent Online

Aberdeen face a financially-disastrous drop into the Scottish First Division if they fail in a two-legged play-off with Dunfermline. Tomorrow's first leg at Pittodrie will be a 21,634 sell-out, with the Pars having the backing of only 2,500 travelling fans.

Aberdeen are favourites to win the play-off but Bert Paton, the Dunfermline manager, insists: "The pressure is on them as the Premier club - they have it all to lose while we have it all to gain."

Roy Aitken, his Aberdeen counterpart, said: "I can assure you there is no widespread over-confidence within our club. We must pick up where we have left off in the past three games when the attitude and application of the players has been right.

"I sense a mood of determination among them now, although we don't underestimate the task. Dunfermline are a very capable side.

"When you get down to the wire like we are now it is a huge challenge. But we've faced critical games in the past few weeks and on each occasion the team has responded."

Aberdeen will be without their top scorer Billy Dodds, who completes a two-match suspension, while Paul Kane is also banned and Eoin Jess injured. The midfielder Peter Hetherston can return after suspension.

Dunfermline will be without Marc Millar, who has a stomach injury. He joins Hamish French, Kenny Ward, Neale Cooper and Gary Higgins on the injury list. Andrew Hawkins, Mark McCulloch and Paul Fenwick stand by.