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| Dunfermline Athletic 0 Rangers 4|
By Alistair Campbell - Tue, 31st Dec 2013
Photos by Neil Farrell & Calum Farrell
This was billed as the end of year table-topping clash, but it turned out to be men against boys as the Ibrox club took ruthless advantage of defensive errors to run out easy winners. Dunfermline had a couple of early half chances, but some naïve defending allowed Aird to score the opening goal. Further mistakes led to goals by Clark, Law and Crawford and it was a chastened Pars squad that left the field at the end.
0 v 4
Ref: Craig Charleston
Crowd: 10089 Position: 2nd
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Andy Geggan in action.
I’ve never been a big fan of matches against Rangers (in whatever incarnation) and I was sorely tempted to save myself a journey and watch the game on the box instead. However, I thought I’d give it a go, and was pleasantly surprised by the absence of travel and parking difficulties, this being a midweek match against one of the big Glasgow two after all and hence I was in my seat in plenty of time to watch several unfamiliar faces struggling to find theirs. It was good to see a big crowd back at East End, the supposed boycott having little effect, but there was still a touch of an unpleasant undercurrent about the atmosphere.
Callum Morris hadn’t fully recovered from his injury so the Pars went with their youthful back four of Williamson, Young, Martin and Whittle in front of Scully in goals. The midfield was also settled, with Byrne on the right, Geggan on the left, with Husband and Falkingham occupying more central positions. However, there was a change up front with Ryan Thomson’s illness meaning a start for Jordan Moore alongside Ryan Wallace.
With injuries and the imminent expiry of loan deals, there were a couple of less familiar faces on the bench, with any changes likely to come from a core of Smith, Dargo, El Bakhtaoui and Kane, who were joined by Drummond, Lewis Spence and reserve keeper Goodfellow.
For once there were more than a few familiar faces as well as names in the opposition ranks, with the likes of Lee McCulloch, John Daly, Ian Black and Nicky Law all expected to feature prominently.
|Andy Geggan v Ian Black.|
Jordan Moore v Sebastien Faure.
Lee McCulloch lost the toss, so Rangers had kick-off, with the Pars defending the Norrie McCathie end as is traditional. The visitors were into their stride straight from the opening whistle and had the Pars struggling to keep them out at times, but despite this, the home team had their moments, with Jordan Moore first charging down Bell’s clearance, before being sent clear by a fine Geggan pass, but he simply didn’t have the pace to make the most of this and Mohsni was soon back to snuff out the danger.
|Andy Geggan v Nicky Law.|
Jordan Moore v Sebastien Faure.
However, there were closer things at the other end, with Rangers playing with all the confidence of a team that had only dropped two points all season. Scully was alert enough to thwart a little give and flick, but the Pars rode their luck firstly when Smith nearly profited from a weak Martin header, only to drag his shot just wide under pressure from Whittle, and again when referee Charleston waved play on when Young collided with Clark in the area.
Dunfermline settled and began to come more into the game. Some neat play involving Husband, Williamson and Byrne ended with Falkingham sending Moore clear again and this time the Pars’ forward got his shot in, albeit a tame one which Bell easily saved. Another fine pass, this time from Husband, nearly found Moore in the 17th minute, but Mohsni stuck out a toe to turn the ball behind. Husband met Whittle’s near-post delivery with a back header, but Bell tipped the goal-bound effort over the top.
|Jordan Moore v Sebastien Faure.|
Kerr Young v Jon Daly.
It looked as if the Pars might grow in confidence from this little spell, but the soon gave away the opening goal with some naïve defending. Law sucked in an extra defender before switching the ball to Aird. A diagonal run caused a distraction and with the Pars defence late to close him down, Aird stuck the ball beyond Scully from 18 yards.
Dunfermline Athletic 0 Rangers 1
|Ryan Wallace v Fraser Aird.|
That goal was exactly what the visitors wanted, and they seemed happy with that for the time being, with Lee Wallace staying back to counter the effectiveness of Williamson’s runs, although the latter did combine with Husband to set Ryan Wallace up for a shooting chance on the half hour but the Pars man couldn’t find the target.
You felt controversy was never far away, and sure enough, the game had a near flash-point when a Rangers free-kick was played all the way across the face of the Dunfermline goal, before being returned. The ball looked to be out, but the referee waved play on and Young was booked for his trouble.
Then with one minute’s additional time having been exhausted, the referee seemed reluctant to whistle for the interval with the visitors in an attacking position, and after Scully had spilled a shot, Aird looked to have scored a second, only for Martin to hoof the ball off the line.
Not a great half for the Pars – they had struggled, but with only one goal in it, they still had to be hopeful of turning things round in the second period.
Half time: Pars 0 Gers 1
Home support for the 10,089 crowd.
Within five minutes of the restart there were a couple of incidents that went a long way to deciding the fate of the match. In 49 minutes Mohsni was guilty of a bad aerial challenge on Moore. The Frenchman had been upset about a challenge in the first-half, appealing in vain to both referee and linesman for punitive action, and he was lucky that taking matters into his own hands only resulted in a yellow card. Two minutes later, Rangers doubled their lead. A corner came in for the right and Daly’s header was net-bound before being touched in by Clark standing on the line.
Dunfermline Athletic 0 Rangers 2
|Ryan Wallace v Sebastien Faure.|
Stephen Husband in action.
The Pars needed a goal back soon were they to make a game of it, but were unable to test Bell. Husband went on a good run but lost control at the crucial moment, and then Wallace set up Byrne on the right to hit the ball deep, but Whittle could only win a corner (one disputed with apparent impunity by Ian Black).
The Pars were showing some variety with their set-pieces, possibly as they looked clearly second best to the aerial ball, and a couple of times tried to lay off to Falkingham at the edge of the ”D”, but he couldn’t find the goal either. Shaun Byrne had had little opportunity to show his undoubted talents – a neat turn in 65 minutes wasn’t matched by the quality of the shot - and he soon gave way to Smith, but not before the visitors had scored a third.
|Josh Falkinghams effort goes narrowly wide.|
Ryan Williamson v Nicky Law.
Ricky Foster had come on for Clark as Rangers moved to a 4-5-1 formation and this was almost instantly effective, although the goal was largely a result of poor defending. Young was short with his pass along the back four, although Williamson waited for it rather than attempt a tackle, which left the visitors 3 v2, and Macleod slipped the ball in to Law who flicked the ball over the diving Scully.
Dunfermline Athletic 0 Rangers 3
|Ryan Wallace has effort on goal.|
Shaun Byrne v Lee Wallace.
We were now at the stage where normally Dunfermline’s superior fitness would tell, but not against these opponents and so this was effectively game over – all that remained was to see if the Pars could get a consolation, or whether they would concede more.
It looked more like the former – Husband had a shooting chance from a free-kick, but rather than shoot himself, played a reverse ball to Whittle who cut back onto his right foot, but his effort was dealt with before Moore did manage to test Bell at his near post. To create this chance, the Pars had played on when Williamson was on the turf, and so Jon Daly expected the game to continue now that Rangers had possession, and was standing in yards of space. However play was stopped, and eventually a stretcher party wandered on to help the unfortunate Pars’ full back off the pitch.
With Geggan moving to right back, this meant a debut for Lewis Spence in midfield. The game virtually in stoppage time, so the young lad didn’t get many touches and couldn’t be held responsible for the final goal, which again must go down as a defensive error. The Pars failed to clear their lines, and when the ball went out to Foster, there was a brief debate about who should go out to challenge. Young took responsibility, which meant the Pars were exposed in central defence, and sure enough, when the cross came in Daly had the simple job to nod down to Crawford who drilled home the fourth.
Final Score: Dunfermline Athletic 0 Rangers 4
|Jordan Moore in action.|
Jordan Moore has shot on goal.
The Pars were simply outclassed. Man for man, the Rangers looked stronger on paper, and that assessment was justified by performances on the pitch, with the expected weaknesses in central defence and attack being exposed. However, overall the result doesn’t change much, with the Pars’ realistic target remaining the achievement of a play off place. With guidance, at least some of the Pars’ youngsters will profit from the experience, and that fact, more than rumours of imminent austerity cuts down Govan way, give the Pars some hope for the cup-tie next year.
|Bilel Mohsni aka Shi*e Poccahontas!|
DAFC.net Man Of The Match: Josh Falkingham
|Choose your Man Of The Match
| Dunfermline_Athletic: Ryan Scully, Ryan Williamson (Lewis Spence, 89), Alex Whittle, Lewis Martin, Kerr Young, Andy Geggan, Shaun Byrne (Allan Smith, 76), Stephen Husband, Ryan Wallace, Josh Falkingham, Jordan Moore|
| Subs (not used): Craig Dargo, chris Kane, Faissal El Bakhtaoui, Ross Drummond, Ryan Goodfellow|
| Rangers: Cammy Bell, Sebastien Faure, Bilel Mohsni, Steven Smith (Lewis Macleod, 56), Lee Wallace, Lee McCulloch, Fraser Aird, Ian Black (Robbie Crawford, 78), Jon Daly, Nicky Clark (Ricky Foster, 69), Nicky Law|
| Subs (not used): Steve Simonsen, MacLeod, Arnold Peralta, Dean Shiels, Cribari, Foster, Crawford|
| Shots on||3 ||10 |
| Shots off||7 ||2 |
| Corners||7 ||3 |
| Offside||1 ||1 |
| Fouls conceded||9 ||13 |
| Possession|| || |