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| East Fife 1 Dunfermline Athletic 3|
By Alistair Campbell - Sun, 2nd Feb 2014
The Pars got back on track with what eventually proved to be a comfortable win at New Bayview, in a match played in windy and wet conditions. Ross Forbes missed an early penalty before touching home just before the interval to give the Pars a deserved lead. After long periods struggling into the wind, they scored a quick fire double through Wallace and Grainger, and although Paul Willis soon netted a consolation, the Pars held on to the three points.
1 v 3
Ref: David Somers (Cumbernauld)
Crowd: 1872 Position: 2nd
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I wasn’t at all sure that I would make this one - one of the features of modern day football (and the Royal Mail) is the amount of advance planning required to order tickets, which often rules out the casual fan making a late decision to attend a match. As it happened, news that there would be a cash gate meant I could turn up after all, and although I was given a ticket for possibly the worst seat in the house - front row, far left – I managed a slight upgrade, and didn’t get too wet.
Another change to modern football is the advent of the transfer window. This has certainly had quite an impact on the way football is conducted, although whether this is beneficial or not may only become clear with the benefit of hindsight. However, the chance to make (or equally not) wholesale changes to your team midseason certain adds an interest that sustains long after the overhyped media frenzy has ceased.
It wasn’t so long ago that signing the likes of Rutkiewicz, Buchanan and Hardie made a critical difference to the Pars’ push for promotion. Whether the arrival of Page, Grainger and Forbes will be equally pivotal is another question that will only be answered in the fullness of time, but they all made their debuts in a much changed line-up.
Jim Jefferies not only changed the personnel, but the formation, going with a back 3 of Page, flanked by Martin and Millen, making a surprise recall. That meant Williamson and Grainger could be pushed up as wing backs, to supplement the midfield trio of Byrne, Forbes and Thomson, and Ryan Wallace and Lawrence Shankland started in attack. Of course, that meant no starting place for Falkingham, presumably dropped to the bench either directly or indirectly over his contract indecision (certainly his form has dipped), Whittle, Husband or Young, and they were joined as substitutes by Moore and Goodfellow, as well as the recalled El Bakhtaoui. Andy Geggan was of course suspended.
Ironically Kevin Rutkiewicz and Liam Buchanan both featured in the home line-up, along with former par Greg Paterson in goals, and ex-Scottish internationalist Gary Naysmith at left back.
Ryan Wallace was captain for the day (whether that will be the case longer term is another unknown at this time) and having won the toss he chose to play with the gusting wind in the first half.
Certainly the conditions were the main talking point of the first half as the Pars sought to take full advantage, and after early pressure they were given a golden opportunity to take the lead when Shankland controlled Thomson’s flick-on and tried an overhead shot that struck the hand of Naysmith. Referee Somers awarded a penalty, and with Wallace having missed his last attempt from the spot, new boy Ross Forbes took responsibility. He looked relaxed, possibly too much so, as his drive down the middle hit Paterson and ended up in the car-park.
Dunfermline looked like they would rue this miss as they proceeded to spurn a number of chances to take the lead, with only a Liam Buchanan run, where he overran the ball and caught Scully, causing their defence any significant problems.
The visitors won a number of corners, mostly on their right, and almost every time, Ross Forbes swung in a dangerous looking ball. In 13 minutes one such was cleared off the line before Paterson tipped Page’s header over; three minutes later another effort was half cleared to Williamson who hit the bye-line but Rutkiewicz stuck out a foot to stick the ball behind for another corner, and midway through the half, Page popped up again, but this time headed narrowly over the bar.
The Pars were also trying their luck from distance, with first Martin then Forbes having a dig from 30 odd yards, without troubling Paterson unduly, but it was from Forbes’ through-balls that they should really have scored. In 26 minutes a ball-winning tackle by Byrne allowed Forbes to play Wallace through but although he guided the ball past Paterson, it slipped past the far post as well.
Another Williamson cutback led to another penalty box stramash which was ended by Paterson flopping on the ball, but just as it looked as if the half would end goal-less, the Pars took the lead – Williamson was again involved, cutting back onto his left to send in a low ball which was helped on for Forbes to stick out a toe and divert it past Paterson from close range.
East Fife 0 Dunfermline Athletic 1
One goal was certainly better than nothing but you felt that the Pars should really have had at least one more.
Half time: Fife 0 Pars 1
After a half chance early in the second period, when Forbes hit a free-kick beyond the back post for Shankland to head on target, the Pars began to experience the same difficulty that their hosts had struggled with earlier. Scully adopted one of two methods to deal with goal-kicks – either short right to Millen to pass forward, or aim for Grainger by the left touch-line on the half way line, and hope he could knock it on. Time and time again the Pars could only half clear, blootering the ball high in the air, just for it soon to come straight back again. Only a Williamson run, diagonally across the pitch and almost ending up in the outside left position, gave the Pars fans some cheer.
Meanwhile Scully had one or two anxious moments with a couple of shorts only narrowly going past his post. However, the Pars finally strung a few passes together and were rewarded with a goal. Forbes put his foot on the ball, exchanged passes with Wallace before sending Williamson clear on the overlap – he hit the bye-line, cut back to Wallace and he shot across the keeper and in at the far post.
East Fife 0 Dunfermline Athletic 2
Last week the Pars had a two goal lead, went looking for the third, before conceding a quick goal and ultimately losing. On this occasion, they got the third, a similar move involving Forbes and Williamson, with the latter’s deep cross being met by Grainger whose shot should have been stopped by Paterson, but a fumble allowed it to trickle over the line.
East Fife 0 Dunfermline Athletic 3
Again the Pars conceded a quick goal in response, although this didn’t prove so costly – Williamson lost the ball in midfield, Smith send it forward for the substitute Willis to tuck the ball beyond Scully from a narrow angle.
East Fife 1 Dunfermline Athletic 3
Falkingham had already replaced Byrne, and Husband came on for Thomson who had picked up a knock as the Pars managed to see out proceedings without any further alarms. Only one minute additional time was played by the referee who had had enough of the foul conditions.
Final Score: East Fife 1 Dunfermline Athletic 3
This was a good result in awful conditions. It’s early days, but Forbes and Grainger look too good for this level – I hoped for some freshening up of a squad that seemed to have gone off the boil a little, but this pair far exceeded my expectations. Page didn’t have too much to do, although managed to get an early booking, but the inclusion of Millen allowed Williamson more licence to do damage at the other end of the pitch. Shankland too looks like a striker – always looking to get away a shot on goal and another word too for Martin who continues to impress. With there now being plenty of depth to the squad, the rest of the season is something to anticipate, although the play-offs, should we reach them, will be nerve-wracking.
DAFC.net Man Of The Match: Ross Forbes
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| East_Fife: Greg Paterson, Scott Durie, Gary Naysmith, Kevin Rutkiewicz, Joe Mbu, Gary Fisher, Marc McKenzie, Stephen O`Neill, (Jonathan Stewart, 81), Liam Buchanan, Kevin Smith, Ryan Stewart (Paul Willis, 58)
| Subs (not used): Gary Thom, Ross Brown, Craig Johnstone, Lewis Barr, Connor Shaw|
| Dunfermline_Athletic: Ryan Scully, Ryan Williamson, Danny Grainger, Lewis Martin, Jonathan Page, Ross Millen, Shaun Byrne (Josh Falkingham, 70), Ryan Thomson, (Stephen Husband, 86), Ryan Wallance, Ross Forbes, Lawrence Shankland|
| Subs (not used): Ryan Goodfellow, Jordan Moore, Kerr Young, Alex Whittle, Faissal El Bakhtaoui|
| Shots on||1 ||9 |
| Shots off||5 ||3 |
| Corners||5 ||10 |
| Offside||4 ||1 |
| Fouls conceded||10 ||9 |
| Possession|| || |