Dunfermline Athletic 2 - 3 Arbroath
All the goals came in the first half of a much more entertaining encounter, but the Pars went down 3-2. A Morris slip allowed Milne to score the opener before the centre-back made amends with a headed equaliser. Byrne had missed two gilt-edged opportunities before just about netting his first senior goal, only for Cook to score twice in two minutes as the half came to an end – the first from a penalty conceded by Kane, the second after running half the length of the pitch. With Kane being sent off early in the second half, the 10 men of Dunfermline struggled and indeed were lucky not to concede on the break.
After the wanderings of the last couple of weeks, it was good to have the familiarity of a home game. Although the Pars started as favourites, having not lost to their visitors since 1992 (and that was a Challenge Cup game that was most notable for firstly being postponed due to fog, and then being the occasion of Jackie McNamara’s senior debut), the big success was in simply having a team on the park at all.
JJ made one change to the starting eleven, with captain Josh Falkingham regaining his starting position, coming in for Ryan Ferguson at the front of the midfield diamond. That meant Kane was the anchor man once more, with Geggan and Byrne ahead of him to the left and right, Thomson and Wallace were the strike-force, and of course the defence on the back of two successive clean sheets was unchanged too, with Scully in goals and a back four of Millen, Young, Morris and Whittle.
There were a couple of changes on the bench, Goodfellow coming in as sub keeper for the injured Hrivnak, and Potter coming in for Johnston. Four retained their place from last week – Dargo, Williamson, Moore and El Bakhtaoui, and Ferguson was there as well.
As for Arbroath – there were a couple of familiar faces in their line up, principally Alex Keddie at centre-back. Paul Sheerin, who is gaining a good reputation for himself as an up and coming manager named himself in the starting line-up, but there was no place in the squad for Graham Bayne (which allowed him to draw the winning 50-50 ticket at half-time).
A number of other former players were introduced to the crowd before the start – Harry Melrose, Cammy Fraser, John Sweeney and Dan McLindon from the 1961 side, Willie Callaghan, Roy Barry and Bert Paton from the 1968 team, as well as the likes of Ziggy, Zico, and Jim Scott.
Any hopes that such a celebrated line up would inspire the Pars to a fast start were soon dashed – almost straight from kick-off Scully was nearly caught out when Milne was close to charging down his clearance. The Pars also seemed to have trouble with their footwear, a couple of players slipping - in four minutes Scully chipped out to Morris on the left touchline and he stumbled after controlling the ball on his chest, but was able to recover. Three minutes later the same player was not so lucky. Millen had played the ball infield to Byrne who let the pass run, and lost possession – Arbroath quickly played the ball to Scott on the right, and when Morris slipped trying to intercept the cross, Milne took full advantage with a finish into the far corner. 1-0 Arbroath.
The Pars took a while to settle, but should have had the equalised just before the quarter hour. Referee Finnie failed to allow an advantage when Wallace took promising possession after Thomson was fouled. Instead the Pars took a quick free-kick – too quickly, probably, as they had to go backwards before working the ball to the right, where Wallace fed Byrne inside the area. The latter took a good touch to set up a left-foot shot, but Morrison was equal to it. The home team were now more in the game, although they couldn’t make the most of a couple of dead-ball opportunities on the right – each time being penalised for pushing as they tried to get on the end of the cross. However, they had a better chance with a corner form the other side in 27 minutes after Geggan’s break down the left had won them a corner. The entire Arbroath defence seemed to miss Millen’s inswinger, allowing Morris to score unchallenged from 6 yards. 1 apiece.
Arbroath soon hit back – Cook ran directly at the Pars defence, managing to get past Young, but shot from too far out and Scully had little difficulty in saving. At the other end, thought, the Pars should have taken the lead when Byrne missed an absolute sitter – being teed up at the back post by Wallace - but managed a horrid miskick, virtually missing the ball completely. That was a huge let off for the visitors, although soon after luck evened itself out, when Scott’s cross seemed to come off Morris’s arm, but neither official was confident enough to call it.
The game was much more open and enjoyable than the last couple of matches, and the next chance came Dunfermline’s way when Falkingham wriggled clear in the box, but with options his shot was half-blocked before being beaten away by Morrison. The Pars seemed more willing to shoot this week, with Thomson having a go from 30 yards, Morrison looking a little slow to get down, but he got to his right in the end. However, the Pars finally took the lead – Wallace again coming in from the right to set up Byrne - it was another open goal, and although Shaun sclaffed it again, this time he got enough on it for the ball to beat the keeper and just about make it over the line. 2-1 Pars.
It looked as if the home team would be leading at the interval, but amazingly, they contrived to be losing. First a penalty was conceded. A corner was half-cleared, and when the ball was returned, Kane jumped into Hamilton, who fell like a sack of spuds. This time Mr Finnie did point to the spot and Cook duly sent Scully the wrong way. 2-2.
Two minutes later, the visitors had the lead. The Pars pressed and Young advanced, before picking the pass to Wallace in a central position but he was crowded out. Arbroath quickly played the ball to Cook who, with Falkingham trailing in his wake, ran half the length of the field before tucking the ball in at the far post from 15 yards.
Half Time: Pars 2 Red Lichties 3