| Airdrieonians 2 Dunfermline Athletic 0|
By Alistair Campbell - Sun, 6th Apr 2014
Dunfermline rarely threatened on the artificial surface at New Broomfield. After Keigan Parker expertly curled home a free-kick midway through the first half, the Pars had the bulk of possession but could do little with it. A last minute defensive mix-up saw Lister add a second to cap a poor Pars performance.
2 v 0
Ref: Crawford Allan (Edinburgh)
Crowd: 1147 Position: 2nd
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There were more changes to the Pars team as expected with several players having served suspensions, either imposed by the SPFL for disciplinary reasons, or by Jim Jefferies for performance reasons, getting back in the team. Grainger returned at left back, and Husband and Forbes were back in the side as well, although a flare-up of injuries would have been a factor, with Wallace, Thomson, Williamson and O’Kane having to watch the game from the hospitality suites in the main stand
Scully was in goals, seemingly pretty much recovered from his toe injury, and in front of him he had a back four of Millen, Morris, Page and Grainger; a midfield of Husband, Falkingham, Geggan and Forbes; and a strike partnership of Shankland and El Bakhtaoui. Young Finn Graham was the main beneficiary of the injuries to others, getting a first appearance on the bench, where he featured alongside Byrne, Spence, Smith, Martin, Goodfellow and Whittle.
Airdrieonians, as they can be called following the completion of the liquidation of the original club of that name, went with a 4-4-2, although there was some strange numbering going on – Paddy Boyle played left back despite his number 11 shirt, Liam Watt at 4 was in left midfield, the number 2 Barr was in central midfield, but the 9 and 10 of Lister and Parker were a more orthodox front pairing.
The Pars started brightly but again couldn’t find that earl goal. An early Geggan run saw him head to Shankland, but the striker eventually sclaffed his shot all the way across goal rather than at it, before some brisk passing saw Forbes set up El Bakhtaoui who hit his shot early, but it smacked into the advertising hoarding rather than the net.
A poor Scully clearance caused an anxious moment in 10 minutes, before the Pars swept forward, with Forbes finding El Bakhtaoui on the right and Shankland flicked his cross off the near-post, but not for the first time, the Aberdeen striker was flagged off-side.
McAleer caused a couple of problems for the home team, a long Boyle throw being helped on to him at the back post, but Page dived to clear his header across goal, and then he cut inside to send a long range shot just over the bar.
The Pars got their usual quota of corners, and there was some variety this week. From both sides, a short ball was played, then, following a decoy run from the taker, the ball was played to the full-back. This was more successful from the left, where Grainger set himself up for a shot, but he hit it too high. The other idea was for the players to bunch together in the box, apparently pushing and shoving each other before fanning out as the ball was delivered, but this experiment seemed to be abandoned as the pushing continued and Morris conceded a free-kick.
However, it was a free-kick conceded by Morris at the other end that proved to be more damaging. A firm tackle on Husband by Lister went unpunished but when Morris nudged McAleer at the edge of the box the whistle went. Parker stood up and expertly curled the ball beyond the wall in high to Scully’s left - a super strike, and it looked in all the way.
Airdrieonians 1 Dunfermline Athletic 0
Crawford Allan was beginning to incur the ire of both sets of supporters. McCormack was clearly late on Forbes, and was booked, although the Pars played on with Falkingham playing in Shankland who stuck the ball home sweetly enough, but it was clear the “goal” was never going to count. Tackles continued to fly in – there was a fierce one on El Bakhtaoui before Morris absolutely halved Lister, although both times the ball appeared to be won cleanly. Certainly, the referee played on, as did both sides, despite Lister being left on the artificial turf. Eventually a drop ball was awarded, and Lister made a speedy recovery.
Half time: Diamonds 1 Pars 0
There were no changes at the break, although the Pars began to see more of the ball. However, their timing just seemed a little bit off – perhaps it was the different bounce, A poor Page pass actually led to an attack as the Diamonds were lured forward, before Falkingham mistimed his header beyond the back post after Forbes had played Grainger on the overlap.
Unfortunately it was Mr Allan who was becoming more noticeable. Husband was fouled but got away only for the referee to bring play back, before two attempts to play a quick-free kick were disallowed. Then Forbes was rightly booked for a poor tackle, but Lister, who wasn’t involved escaped heavy censure for his reaction, Geggan doing him a big favour by grabbing hold of his shirt to stop him weighing in.
For all their possession, the Pars carried little threat as the home team defended well. The visitors reverted to more conventional corners – eventually Adam dropped an inswinger, but recovered to grasp Morris’s follow-up. However, the keeper couldn’t do anything about a Forbes shot following a neat El Bakhtaoui turn, that took a deflection on the way, but the ball looped over his bar.
Changes were made - Smith and Whittle for El Bakhtaoui and Falkingham, but this made little difference. The Airdrie defence enjoyed a bit of luck when a Morris header from a corner bounced off a defender into Adam’s arms, and when another slip by the keeper was half-cleared to Geggan at the edge of the box and he hit an absolute screamer just wide, you sensed it may not be Dunfermline’s day.
With play degenerating into a succession of niggly fouls, the home team confirmed victory with a goal in stoppage time. Morris and Lister chased a long ball with the defender leaving it for Scully to come to clear. The keeper tried to be clever by passing to Page in the left back position, but his pass hit off Morris and Lister was able to get the sole of his boot to divert the loose ball into the empty net.
Final Score: Airdrieonians 2 Dunfermline Athletic 0
It’s just not happening for the Pars at the moment, and it’s difficult to put the finger on why this is. A combination of the job being nearly done, playing teams with more to play for, and lots of changes to selection perhaps. The front line looks a bit light-weight (although that has been the case most of the season) and the midfield isn’t creating enough, and there are one or two signs that confidence is dropping. However, there was some welcome variety from corners this week, an area where goals have been relatively rare and at least we are getting our bad games out of the way.
DAFC.net Man Of The Match: Jonathan Page
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| Airdrie_United: Grant Adam, Craig Barr, Jamie Bain, Liam Watt, Gregor Buchanan, Stefan Milojevic, Caolan McAleer (Scott Stewart, 73), Darren McCormack, Jim Lister, Keigan Parker (Liam Coogans, 91), Paddy Boyle.|
| Subs (not used): Chris McCluskey (GK), Lewis Coult, Reece Glackin< Grant Evans, Nicky Cadden|
| Dunfermline_Athletic: Ryan Scully, Ross Millen, Danny Grainger, Callum Morris, Jonathan Page, Andy Geggan, Stephen Husband, Josh Falkingham (Alex Whittle, 71), Lawrence Shankland, Faissal El Bakhtaoui (Allan Smith, 71), Ross Forbes.|
| Subs (not used): Ryan Goodfellow (GK), Shaun Byrne, Lewis Martin, Lewis Spence, Finn Graham|
| Shots on||3 ||5 |
| Shots off||12 ||11 |
| Corners||2 ||8 |
| Offside||2 ||5 |
| Fouls conceded||13 ||13 |
| Possession||44 ||56 |