| Stenhousemuir 1 Dunfermline Athletic 2|
By Alistair Campbell - Sat, 4th Jan 2014
Stenhousemuir must be getting sick of the sight of the Pars and their last minute winners. On this occasion especially the home team must feel they had done more than enough to earn at least a point after Lynch has scored a late equaliser to cancel out Faissal El Bakhtauoi’s early strike in his first Dunfermline start. However, as we have been saying all season, you write off this Pars’ side at your peril, and sure enough, Geggan scored a 91st minute winner from Drummond’s corner to get the New Year off to a good start.
1 v 2
El Bakhtaoui (13)
Ref: Andrew Dallas
Crowd: 1556 Position: 2nd
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It was the Pars’ 2nd game in a little under 3 days. Followers of Coach Raymond Verheijen will be well aware of his views on the correlation between fixture congestion and muscle injuries; throw in Stenny’s infamous plastic pitch and team selection was always going to be an interesting matter. Despite the evidence of Monday night’s team sheet Ross Millen is still a way off match fitness, but Williamson’s injury was not as bad as feared, and he was able to resume at right back. Morris was kept in the stand, so Young and Martin continued at centre-back and the ever present Whittle and Scully were at left back and goalkeeper respectively. Josh’s hand injury kept him out, so Geggan captained the side from midfield alongside Husband and Byrne. Ryan Wallace was in an attacking midfield role while Jordan Moore started upfront alongside Faissal El Bakhtaoui who got his reward for some promising displays in the under 20s by being given his first start.
The bench thus had a little bit of a makeshift look – as well as Goodfellow, Smith and Dargo, we had Kane, Spence, Drummond and Ryan Thomson, although whether the last named would feature on this surface given his recent history of back problems was open to conjecture.
The home team had ex-Par Chris Smith in goals, who would have to deal with the “banter” from the Pars fans in the first half as the Warriors defending the toffee factory end, and he was called into action within the first minute of the match when a lovely reverse ball from El Bakhtaoui sent Wallace through on the right, the keeper making a fine save after Wallace had turned back onto his left to shoot.
Smith is known for his long clearances and these soon proved testing for the Pars defence, with Young under pressure on a couple of occasions early on – the first time he was booked after holding off Higgins whilst attempting to shepherd the ball back to Scully, who then proceeded to spill the ball, before getting it at the second attempt; the second time he put in a clean tackle, when any mistiming could have landed him in serious bother with referee Andrew Dallas.
However, the Pars took the lead a little against the run of play. Martin had to tidy up at the back, before striding out of defence and playing a long ball down the left for Wallace to chase. Ryan did well to keep the ball in, but his cross to the near-post didn’t look up to much initially, only for El Bakhtaoui to nip in and flick the ball past Smith for his first senior goal.
Stenhousemuir 0 Dunfermline Athletic 1
The Pars settled down, started to take the game to their opponents, and could have scored again soon after, when first Byrne didn’t quite connect with Wallace’s cutback after he had skinned the left back, before Wallace himself tested Smith again with a shot from the edge of the area that took a slight deflection.
Then, having survived a scare when Young headed off his own bar after Scully came for a corner and missed it, the Pars should definitely have doubled their advantage. El Bakhtaoui had won a corner when his deep cross looking for Whittle was turned behind. Wallace sent in an inswinger and somehow Geggan ended up in the net with the ball going beyond the far post, rather than the other way about.
Rather ominously, Whittle had gone down with cramp with still 10 minutes to the interval, and although he was soon back on the pitch, Stenny surged through the hole in the defence only for Lynch to fire over from 20 yards.
Overall though, the Pars would be more than happy to have the lead at the break.
Half time: Warriors 0 Pars 1
The Pars made a change during the interval, bringing on Ross Drummond to the left back slot, further weakening the experience of the defence, and his first touch looked a slightly nervous one, depositing the ball out of play, when knocking back to the keeper might have been the better option, but better safe than sorry.
The variable bounce was causing some anxiety to the Pars rearguard, but the home defence weren’t immune with Malone misjudging a Young punt, allowing Moore a sniff at goal, but after a nice turn the Pars man couldn’t keep his shot down.
The home team were starting to look more likely however, and Scully made a fine save to retain the advantage in 54 minutes when Hodge found room in the box to get away a shot. Not long after, Byrne got sucked into the wrong side of the pitch and Stenny went roaring down the space created with McKinlay firing in a cross that Young did well to head behind. The Pars just about defended that corner, Scully tipping a header over his bar, but the signs were there that this game was far from over.
As Smith came on for Moore, Gemmell came on to add some height and strength to the Warriors’ offence and he was soon putting the Pars defence under more pressure. However Scully again earned his corn in an echo of the only goal to date, bravely diving at Higgins’ feet to intercept Dickson’s near post ball in 65 minutes. However, the keeper could only stand and watch four minutes later as Gemmell beat 3 players, only to fire wide.
Husband had struggled all game, and it was no surprise when Kane replaced the Pars playmaker, with the job of sitting in front of the back four. Wallace and El Bakhtaoui had dropped back into midfield, but were quick to get forward when the chance arose. Wallace cut in from the left to send in a dipping shot that produced a good save from Smith and then in 76 minutes a headed Martin clearance found Byrne who sent a lovely crossfield ball to Wallace, he reversed to Drummond, but El Bakhtaoui seemed to go for the resultant cross with his wrong foot and the chance was gone. Another Byrne run was ended illegally allowing Wallace to chance from a free-kick, but again Smith saved well.
We were down to the last five or so minutes and the home team were giving it one last go. Two corners were just about defended, but a long throw wasn’t dealt with, the ball was hooked to the far post and Lynch headed home from close range.
Stenhousemuir 1 Dunfermline Athletic 1
We still had time for a winner from either team and it was the Pars who were stung into action. Kane nearly turned a Drummond cross in, before the home team came away again. The ninety minutes had virtually come and gone, when the ball was swept to Smith in the middle and he slipped it to El Bakhtaoui on the right. It didn’t look a promising angle, so the young Frenchman played it off Malone to win a corner. Drummond came all the way across to take the kick, swung it to the back post where Geggan headed home for a last gasp winner.
Final Score: Stenhousemuir 1 Dunfermline Athletic 2
This was more about putting the Rangers game behind us, and although it wasn’t a great performance, it was a very good result against one of our main rivals for a play-off position. It is about this time of the season that “squad” players get more game time, so it was good to see El Bakhtaoui get his chance. My first impression is he looks a bit slight, but has a bit of pace and a bit of spring to his leap. He took his goal well and should give the manager a useful option if he wants to freshen things up. There’s a wee gap before the next game, which should allow some welcome recovery time.
DAFC.net Man Of The Match: Faissal El Bakhtaoui
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| Stenhousemuir: Chris Smith, Nicky Devlin, Kevin McKinlay, Eddie Malone, Ross McMillan, Bryan Hodge, Sean Dickson, David Rowson, Sean Higgins, Sean Lynch, Kris Faulds (John Gemmell, 62)|
| Subs (not used): Brown Ferguson, Stewart Greacen, Errol Douglas, Ross McNeil, Darren Smith, Dean Shaw|
| Dunfermline_Athletic: Ryan Scully, Ryan Williamson, Alex Whittle (Ross Drummond, HT), Lewis Martin, Kerr Young, Andy Geggan, Shaun Byrne, Stephen Husband (Chris Kane, 72), Faissal El Bakhtaoui, Ryan Wallace, Jordan Moore (Allan Smith, 60)|
| Subs (not used): Ryan Thomson, Craig Dargo, Lewis Spence, Ryan Goodfellow|
| Shots on||3 ||8 |
| Shots off||7 ||6 |
| Corners||7 ||7 |
| Offside||4 ||1 |
| Fouls conceded||8 ||13 |
| Possession|| || |