Dunfermline Athletic 0 - 0 Partick ThistleAuthor: Alistair Campbell Date: Tuesday, 14th Dec 2010
Sometimes the score belies the actual story of the game. Sadly, this was all you could expect from a scoreless game on a cold December night. If ever a game deserved the epithet snore draw, this was it - there wasn’t even a substitution bungle or bizarre officialing accident to liven things up.
Perhaps it was Saturday’s result, perhaps it was the elation of having a working motor or possibly the relief of having survived a day’s Christmas shopping, but I was looking forward to the game. Saturday’s rustiness would have been excised, the team would be hungry for goals, and being top of the league some sparkling football would surely ensue. In addition, I was able to sit in my own seat, and to top it all, Stephen’s bridies were back on the menu. I should have known better.
There was no sign of any appeal over Gibson’s red card (to be fair, having seen the YouTube footage the support was divided over the merits of the challenge in question) and so Cardle came in on the left, with Graham moving to the Gibson wing. McDougall also got a start instead of Clarke, who dropped to the bench, where there were also a couple of changes with McGregor returning after serving his suspension, and Paul Willis coming in as Ryan Thomson was relegated to the enclosure.
Partick lined up with a 5-3-2/3-5-2 with McNamara sweeping behind two centre-backs, and Paton and Boyle pushing down the flanks. Sid Donnelly was alongside Erskine up front, but dropping back as and when.
Thistle kicked off, and again there was an early scare when Smith seemed to take his eye off a pass-back, but recovered to knock the ball square to McCann. Graham soon went close, but the visitors had a better chance in 6 minutes when Hodge cut back to Paton who had materialised at the edge of the box but his strike whistled past the post, helped by an alleged deflection.
The early action promised more than the half ultimately delivered – Graham looped a shot just over the bar in 15 minutes, and two minutes later Smith produced a decent save to deny Donnelly when he nipped in ahead of Dowie to get his head on the end of a Paton cross. However, the standard of play declined with both sides seemingly intent on ceding possession. Not only was the quality of the final ball poor, but the penultimate ball was nothing to write home about either. Graham seemed to be tucking inside more, which left Woods with fewer options when he was in attack, and he briefly swapped wings with Cardle (a standard tactic which seems underemployed by the Pars). A couple of long range efforts caused a modicum of concern – Fox fumbled a Phinn 25-yarder, but had plenty time to recover, and a late Hodge snapshot had Smith sprawling to make the save low to his left, but again he had all the time he needed to flop on the loose ball.
Half time: Pars 0 Jags 0
We’re used to dull first halves, but normally things improve in the second period as both sides get accustomed to the conditions. However, when Woods took a throw in and promptly threw the ball straight out of play again, things looked ominous. Even the prospect of some refereeing controversy to stir things up seemed remote with Craig Thomson, possibly Scotland’s premier whistler, in charge. However, things did open up a bit, and play was more end to end. Smith seemed quicker at getting the ball out to full-backs and the tempo did lift a little. Graham tried to break, but having put the ball one side of Boyle, there was no clear ground the other side, and he ending up balked by the piled snow.