Dunfermline 7-1 StenhousemuirAuthor: Alistair Campbell Date: Saturday, 9th Jan 2010
Seven goals, but is it enough for victory? Time will tell after the Pars appear to brush aside the cup challenge of Second Division Stenhousemuir. Some superb goals were scored on the day, but the result is overshadowed by a farcical eligibility query.
Denis Law famously once scored 6 goals in an FA Cup tie, yet finished on the losing side – the Pars may have gone one worse after bizarrely choosing to field Calum Woods, a player who should have been suspended. Time will tell on this one, in the meantime let’s concentrate on the action, and there was plenty of it after a long lay-off.
First impressions were that he pitch seemed in surprisingly good nick – a tribute both to the under-soil heating, and the tremendous hard work of the ground-staff. Of course, nowadays, it’s not enough merely for the pitch to be playable, the rest of the “footprint” has to be up to standard, the weather forecast has to be acceptable, and possibly one or two other unlikely conditions have to be met as well, but even though side-streets were a bit slippy, it was game on.
Greg Paterson may have considered himself a tad unlucky to be back warming the bench after his debut clean sheet last time out, and Burke also took what may be an overdue rest giving way to Phinn. However, the message from Macca seemed to be he was fielding his strongest team, with Fleming back between the sticks and Ross, McGregor, Dowie and captain for the day McCann completing the defence. Phinn and Bell were in the middle with Graham wide left, Gibson wide left, and Kirk and McDougall the strike-force. Paul Willis got a rare look-in on the bench alongside Burke, Paterson, Cardle and (ahem) Woods. Pars’ interest in the visitors was restricted to the appearance of Pat Scullion in midfield.
Stenhousemuir took the kick off in their all sky-blue strips playing towards the Norrie McCathie end and were certainly up for it early on as you would expect, wrestling Macca out of the way to try to take a quick shy in the 5th minute, then a minute later winning a corner which wasn’t properly cleared, the ball falling to Bradley who tested Fleming at his near post.
The Pars were soon into their passing game, McDougall testing McCluskey from wide on the left in 13 minutes, and after a scare when Dalziel sprung the off-side trap, the Pars began to dominate and took the lead in the 16th minute. Both full backs had been keen to press forward, and McCann got the chance to get to the bye-line to put in a cross from the left which Gibson rose to head home from 6 yards. 1-0 Pars, and it was 2-0 a minute later. Stenny had two chances to clear Gibson’s cross but couldn’t and Kirk was first onto the loose ball arising from Phinn’s shot to blast into the roof of the net.
Four minutes later and it was 3, with a Phinntastic goal, Nick bursting through several players before slipping the ball past McCluskey – just like the Phinn of last season.
The visitors were now penned back into their own half, but still well able to hit on the break, Dalziel getting the better of McGregor on 25 minutes, but Molloy’s rushed his attempted chip from 25 yards and was well off target. McGregor did better a couple of minutes later, beating the big number 9 in the air, before being first to the ball to volley clear. Back came the Pars though, McDougall suddenly deciding to use his pace to set up a shooting chance, which McCluskey covered easily, then Kirk sent a left foot curler beyond the far post. Goal number 4 duly arrived in 35 minutes, David Graham emulated Phinn going on a solo run before sticking the ball in low at the post from 20 yards.
Despite the 4 goals conceded, McCluskey was alert enough to race from his line to beat Kirk to a through ball in 38 minutes, and Fleming was similarly on the ball to clear Ross’s not-quite-as-firm-as- it-could-have-been back-pass a couple of minutes later under the close attentions of Bradley.
The highly regarded Motion had had a quite match, but nearly scored the goal of the game to date 4 minutes from the break, meeting Bell’s headed clearance from a corner on the half-volley 30 yards out, the ball dipping over Fleming’s leap but crashing off the ball, Smith heading the rebound over from an off-side position.
Half time: Pars 4 Warriors 0
The visitors made one change at half-time, Thom coming on for Stephen Thomson who had taken a knock late in the first period, but this couldn’t stop the tide. An early corner was cleared back out to Gibson and McGregor got his head to the second delivery, but his header came back off the bar. After Woods had replaced Ross, Phinn had a weak header comfortably held by the keeper and Scullion a much better header also saved. At the other end Graham beat 5 players, but his shot didn’t match the earlier play before there were more substitutions, Cardle coming on for Gibson (and swapping wings with Graham) and Curry and Welsh replacing Iain Thomson and Scullion.