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| East Fife 0 Dunfermline Athletic 1|
By Alistair Campbell - Sun, 11th Aug 2013
Although there will be a lot of interest this season in visiting some of the less familiar outposts of the Scottish football map, this was a reminder that much of the actual football will not be pretty. Again the Pars took an early lead through a Ryan Wallace penalty, this time in the second minute, but otherwise the match was largely forgettable, with few chances being created, and the Pars managed to hold on to their lead.
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And so to the league season, with the opening fixture being the short but tricky trip east to play East Fife, who had looked like they were going to have a real go at promotion after making a number of close-season additions to their squad. The Pars and East Fife haven’t met that often of late – I can remember a trip to the old Bayview many years ago when Fife Cup ties were played as a pre-season double header, and there have been a handful of visits to the new ground – a cup tie in the Davy Hay era, a pre-season friendly that was as memorable for the thunderstorm over the Forth as the 7-1 victory, and an early League Cup exit a couple of years ago.
The ground was mobbed, and the ticket that I had ordered for the back of the stand eventually materialised to be for the front row, level with the edge of the six yard box, which meant a view frequently obscured by security staff and police officers. However, I had good sight of the substitutes’ frequent warm-ups – new rules meant there were 7 on the bench – Hrivnak, the loanees Moore and Johnston, coach Dargo, Williamson, El Bakhtaoui and Josh Falkingham, not fully recovered from the knock he took last week. Thus Geggan in for his skipper was the only change from last week’s starting eleven (and Andy took the captain’s armband as well as he slotted in on the left on a midfield 4, with Kane holding, Ferguson advanced and Byrne on the right). Scully was in goals, with a back four of Millen, Young, Morris and Whittle; Thomson and former East Fife player Wallace formed the strike-force.
The home team had one or two familiar names in it – Liam Buchanan wore the number 19 in attack, Pat Clarke, completing the quartet of senior Fife clubs, was on the left side of midfield and Scott McBride and Paul Willis were on the bench, along with a trialist goalkeeper who had an air of Greg Paterson about him.
The Pars took kick-off playing towards the Forth, and contrived to take the lead in the second minute with the first (and, to be brutal, virtually the last) passage of decent football of the half. A nice ball from Geggan found Thomson in space on the left, he hared down the line and centred for Wallace, who was bundled over by Pat Clarke when he looked to have a great chance to score. The penalty was deemed enough punishment, and this time Wallace tucked the ball low to the keeper’s right 1-0 Pars
The Pars had another penalty shout within 10 minutes when Thomson robbed Dutot before going down in a heap under pressure from Thom, but referee Brines never looked like he was going to give a second spot-kick. In fact, in a scrappy opening period, the Pars were more sinners than sinned against, if the referee is to be believed, but it was the ball which suffered most – as well as ending up out of the ground on several occasions, it again had to be replaced for being flat.
The surface looked good, but good play was at a premium. In 38 minutes Thomson’s strength allowed him to make space for a shot, but he sclaffed it wide. Meanwhile Scully hadn’t had a save to make, but looked to command his area, coming deep to claim on one occasion, and on another being sharp enough to head clear ahead of Buchanan as East Fife had broken quickly when Wallace had done well to get the cross in, only to over hit it. That was the last action of a poor half, but again one which the Pars would be grateful for the early lead.
Half Time: East Fifers 0 West Fifers 1
The Pars made a forced change at the break, with Falkingham replacing Byrne who had taken a knock, and he made a good early impression, winning a couple of corners, but the Pars never looked like scoring from either of them. Instead, the match descended into the dour midfield battle that had characterised most of the first half’s play. Neither side could bring the ball down and make passes, and with both central defences looking dominant, neither keeper had yet made a save.
That statistic should have changed just after the hour, when first Wallace made progress down the right and found Falkingham bursting through the channel, but there were no takers for his cut-back, then a minute later the roles were reversed as Falkingham sent Wallace clear. However, with only the keeper to beat, Ryan rifled his shot from the angle past the far post.
Of course, the Pars still had the lead, and so the onus was more on the home team to create something. Dargo came on for Ferguson, who had flitted in and out of things a little, and McBride and Willis made appearances for the home team. The ball was also replaced two more times – a curious phenomenon of the season so far has been the number of times this has happened. The pattern of play didn’t alter much though, although Scully did see some action at last, saving what looked like a rebound off Millen after Tuta had missed Durie’s cross, and then making a comfortable save from Clarke’s long range shot.
However, with Buchanan having a reputation for scoring late goals, the Pars were by no means safe. Liam was trying to bring the ball down and run at the defence, but Whittle in particular was standing his ground and timing his tackles to prevent any danger. Whittle was less noticeable in attacking mode, but in 72 minutes he had virtually taken the ball of Ryan Thomson’s toes to charge down the left, and forced a corner when his cross along the six yard box was booted over the bar.
There were now less than 10 minutes left. A Young ball down the left broke to Wallace, but as he moved into the box, he chose not to shoot and instead set up Falkingham in a more central position, but his shot was blocked. The reluctance to shoot was also evident a few minutes later when Wallace, Geggan and Falkingham combined well but wanted one more pass. Meanwhile at the other end in contrast, Buchanan was quick to try an overhead kick when Scully’s punch only half cleared a dangerous cross.
As stoppage time dawned Falkingham drew a foul 20 yards from goal. Whittle thought about coming forward to try his luck from that range, but was sent away again, as the Pars chose to play the ball into the corner, where Wallace promptly lost possession. With Kane getting a long-expected yellow card for breaking up the play, East Fife had one last chance to throw the ball forward, but the cross was overhit, and the final whistle was blown.
Final Score: East Fife 0 Dunfermline Athletic 1
This was no great spectacle, but nevertheless, a good result with which to commence the league season. There wasn’t a lot between the sides, although perhaps the early lead meant the Pars could concentrate on keeping it tight defensively, rather than be more aggressive. I thought Kane had a difficult job to do, but did well, constantly breaking up play, and the defence was pretty sound, coping well with Buchanan. I’ll give the MotM nod this week to Kerr Young – he did little wrong.
DAFC.net Man Of The Match: Kerr Young
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| East_Fife: Michael Andrews, Scott Durie, Cedric Tuta (Nathan Austin, 77), Joe Mbu, Alexis Dutot (Scott McBride, 71), Gary Thom (Paul Willis, 60), Jonathan Stewart, Ross Brown, Liam Buchanan, Pat Clarke, Trialist|
| Subs (not used): Trialist, Cyrus Moosari, Ryan Stewart, Ross Lennie|
| Dunfermline_Athletic: Ryan Scully, Ross Millen, Alex Whittle, Kerr Young, Callum Morris, Chris Kane, Ryan Ferguson (Craig Dargo, 65), Shaun Byrne (Josh Falkingham, HT), Ryan Wallace, Andy Geggan, Ryan Thomson|
| Subs (not used): Michal Hrivnak, Luke Johnston, Jordan Moore, Fayssal El Bakhtaoui, Ryan Williamson|
| Shots on||1 ||1 |
| Shots off||3 ||4 |
| Corners||3 ||5 |
| Offside||2 ||6 |
| Fouls conceded||11 ||17 |
| Possession|| || |