Arbroath 1 Dunfermline Athletic 2
Dunfermline got a confidence boosting win in the usual tricky conditions at Arbroath. Ryan Thomson took advantage of a goalkeeping error to give the Pars an early lead, once which they maintained to the break. Travis equalised from a corner, but skipper Andy Geggan popped up to convert a Grainger cross with 11 minutes left, and the Pars held out for the win.
It’s been kind of difficult to keep track of where we are with the team recently, with Jim Jefferies’ selections seemingly based on giving some game time to anyone who might be required in the play-offs. However, for the trip up the East Coast, the manager went with something that may approximate his first choice selection. Ryan Scully was back in goals and we had an orthodox back four of Millen, Morris, Page and Grainger. The four in midfield looked a little like the diamond again, Husband at the base, Forbes in front of him, Geggan on his left and Falkingham on the right. Thomson and El Bakhtaoui started up front.
The rest of the squad that was stripped offered plenty cover – Goodfellow as sub goalkeeper, Williamson as full-back, Martin for centre-back, Byrne and Spence for midfield, Smith as a forward, and, for the first time in ages, Ryan Wallace as another attacking option. Young, Whittle and Graham were in the stand, but there was no sign of Shankland.
Arbroath, who were fighting for their Division 1 lives, had a bit more form about them (in common with many of the teams in the lower half of the division). Player manager Paul Sheerin would be looking to have a significant influence on-field in his role in the middle of the park, Cook and Linn could be dangerous on the wings, and the experienced Kenny Deuchar was a known goal-threat.
Gayfield is one of those grounds where the crowd can change ends if they desire, so more attention can be given to the overhead conditions when deciding which way to shoot. Arbroath opted to play against the wind in the first half, and so the Pars kicked off shooting towards the Amusement Park end.
The home team started brightly and Page and Morris had to be alert to throw their bodies in the way of net-bound shots from Paul Sheerin. No damage was done, although there were soon ironic calls for a doctor when Grainger, despite having had plenty time to clear the ball, delayed his clearance and ended up playing the ball into Deuchar’s face. Grainger at least recovered quickly to chase down Linn, in an incident that ended up with the corner flag being broken.
By the time the flagstick was replaced, the Pars had taken the lead. They had begun knocking the ball around nicely, and space opened up for Husband to have a shot. It wasn’t his best effort, but Morrison spilled it, the ball bounced up and Thomson knocked it over the keeper and virtually chested the ball over the line.
Arbroath 0 Dunfermline Athletic 1
Arbroath came roaring back and soon forced two terrific saves from Scully. Firstly Nicoll’s cross was knocked down by Deuchar to McManus, but Scully was out in a flash to save with his legs. Soon after Scully was saving again, this time with his fingers, as he tipped a Deuchar header past the post.
Deuchar was winning a lot in the air; a head-flick to Cook took out Millen but Morris was across to mop up, and instructions were soon flowing from the bench to neutralise the threat from dead balls by having two players on the good doctor- one in front and one behind.
The Pars began to get more of a grip of the game. A long Grainger throw wasn’t dealt with and El Bakhtaoui hit a snap-shot that was well saved by Morrison, before Geggan’s battling qualities saw him win the ball and feed Grainger, but although Danny did well to work his way to the bye-line, he couldn`t find the killer ball.
A rash of bookings followed – Keddie for dissent, Sheerin for nothing very much either, before Forbes barged in unnecessarily on Cook to concede a free-kick in an awkward position, and was added to the list of culprits.
However, the Pars had the lead at the break, although there wasn’t a lot in it at that stage.
Half Time: Red Lichties 0 Pars 1
There were no changes to personnel made during the interval, but Arbroath now had the wind. Nevertheless, it was Grainger who was the most prominent early on. Three times he got the ball in good positions on the left – the first time he played it to Faissal, who appeared to win a corner, although the officials insisted he had let the ball run out. Next he got the ball to Thomson in a promising position but he was bundled off it, before on the third occasion he decided to go himself, but his cross was poor.
Arbroath finally got going themselves – Cook got past Millen and only a tremendous diving block from Page prevented him from getting a ball on target. However, Lynn’s near-post corner was met by the right back Travis whose diving header found the back of the net.
Arbroath 1 Dunfermline Athletic 1