Brechin City 3 Dunfermline Athletic 2
The Pars somehow contrived to lose this match from being two goals to the good. Lawrence Shankland’s second goal in three games had given the Pars the advantage at half-time before Ryan Wallace doubled the lead following a solo run. At that stage things were looking promising but Brechin first pulled one back, then equalised, then scored an 89th minute winner.
This time of the season always leads to a little fluidity in team selection, as suspensions start to impact and one or two players arrive or depart in the transfer window, so perhaps a recap is in order. Scully remains clear first choice in goals, Williamson is the man in possession at right back and Whittle has recovered from his hamstring problem to fill the left back slot again. Young and Martin were the centre-back coupling for now, and manager Jim Jefferies restored Husband to a midfield four where he featured along with Byrne, Geggan and skipper Falkingham. Wallace and Shankland formed a striking pairing.
On the bench we had the spare goalkeeper Goodfellow, right back Millen, left back Drummond, new centre-back Jonathan Page, midfielder Lewis Spence, utility man Ryan Thomson and forward Jordan Moore. Not featuring were Morris (injured) Smith (ill), El Bakhtaoui (suspended) O’Kane and Dargo (not required) and of course Ferguson, Robert Thomson and Chris Kane have all left the club.
Ryan Ferguson, whose Pars career had started promisingly with a goal in the League Cup at Cowdenbeath, had dropped out of the reckoning at East End Park, and consequently had opted for more regular football at Brechin. He would start on the right of what looked a little like a front three, spearheaded by the prolific Andy Jackson, as Ray McKinnon opted to start with a 3-4-3 formation, employing 3 centre backs and pushing both full backs into midfield.
There was a minute’s silence before the Pars kicked off in memory of former City player manager Ian Redford who died recently. Once play started, it was clear that the Pars intended to pass their way up the pitch, building from the back, although it was a lucky break that allowed Wallace to burst clear in the second minute but his shot from the angle was off target.
Meanwhile both Ferguson and Barr were giving their opposite numbers something to think about with their runs down the wings, Young being fortunate when his flicked clearance from a Ferguson cross fell free, before Jackson’s header from a similar source was straight at Scully.
However, for all Brechin looked dangerous in patches, the Pars had most of the possession, without looking particularly threatening themselves. A stumbling Williamson run into the box might have seen a better result, and Geggan tested Smith from distance, although in-between times Falkingham received an early yellow card for scything down Barr as he threatened to break.
However, the Pars took a lead they just about deserved on the half hour. A quickly taken free-kick in the middle of the park looked innocuous before Martin passed forward to Shankland in the channel and his shot across Smith found the far corner of the net.
Brechin City 0 Dunfermline Athletic 1
It could have been two not long after when Byrne and Shankand combined to win a corner which Whittle took, Geggan’s subsequent header being cleared off the line. Instead, Brechin nearly equalised when Jackson couldn’t capitalise as Scully failed to hold a Petrie cross. Both sides had further chances, although in each case the linesman’s flag was up instantly, and the half finished with the Pars holding a narrow lead.
Half time: City 0 Pars 1
Somewhat surprisingly, the home side made two changes at half time, bringing on Alan Walker and Derek Carcary for Hay and Malloy, in what looked like a change to a 4-4-2. If anything, it seemed that the Pars were the initial beneficiaries of this alteration, and with the midfield being slightly less cluttered the Pars seemed to enjoy more time on the ball. Some nice early play saw the ball worked from side to side before Falkingham sent in a teasing cross from the right that just needed a touch to knock it in, but the ball eluded everyone.
Both sides came close to scoring in the 52nd minute – Barr got in behind Williamson and Scully had to beat his shot away, before chasing after and falling on the loose ball. At the other end Shankland nipped in ahead of Smith to gain possession but couldn’t net from the acute angle, and there was no Par there to pounce on the loose ball. However, the second duly arrived. A fine Husband pass sent Wallace clear: he could have shot early but chose to take the ball inside past Smith, and with there being three defenders between him and the goal, bided his time for what seemed like an eternity, before firing home from 6 yards.
Brechin City 0 Dunfermline Athletic 2
It was nearly 3 soon after- a lovely run from Byrne on the left saw him ghost past 3 players, but with the options of shooting or laying back, seemed to lose composure at the crucial moment. Play swept to the other end, the Pars failed to clear their lines and when Barr’s shot seemed net bound, only to come back off the bar, Carcary followed up to pull one back.
Brechin City 1 Dunfermline Athletic 2