Airdrieonians 2 Dunfermline Athletic 0
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.
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.