Dunfermline Athletic 3 - 3 AberdeenAuthor: Alistair Campbell Date: Saturday, 26th Nov 2011
Before today, Dunfermline hadn’t won a home game and Aberdeen an away game all season, so a draw might have seemed a stick-on, although perhaps the manner of it was unexpected. The Pars roared back from conceding the opener to Considine on the stroke of half-time to take a 3-1 lead with strikes from Barrowman, Graham and Buchanan, before throwing away 2 points by conceding two late goals. Once again, a porous defence is proving costly.
The Pars made one change from the side that had lost narrowly at Celtic Park, with Paddy Boyle coming in for Ryan Thomson, Macca opting for a 3-5-2 that was more a function of the personnel available to him than evidence of a footballing philosophy. The 3 available centre-backs all started – Dowie, Potter and Keddie (from right to left) in front of Gallacher the goalie. Mason, skipper for the day, was in the middle flanked by Graham and Boyle on his left and Burns and Willis on his right and Kirk and Barrowman were the strike-force. Hardie and Phinn were welcome faces on the bench, alongside Liam Buchanan, the not-yet fully fit Cardle, the rested Ryan Thomson, youngster Kerr Young and sub keeper Chris Smith.
The Dons started with a 4-4-2 – Magennis and Fallon leading the line, Fyvie and the other Osbourne brother in the middle and the impressive Milsom on the left flank looking to provide the ammunition.
The Dons kicked off in their all red strips attacking the Norrie McCathie end, but early place was fractured and untidy, typified by Mason’s foul in only 10 seconds. The blustery overhead conditions didn’t help, especially when both sides were forced to go long. However, the game settled into something resembling a pattern – Aberdeen enjoying the majority of possession in the midfield but being unable to create any meaningful chances, and both sides putting in dangerous crosses from the main stand side – Millsom for the Dons, and Willis for the Pars.
Willis was the first to show, Clark having to touch away his vicious cross in the 5th minutes, the ball rebounding off the far corner flag allowing Boyle to recycle the ball to Graham who won the game’s first corner. Millsom’s first action was more dangerous; the first of many crosses to test Gallacher’s aerial command was met beyond the far post by Fallon, and with the Pars keeper out of position Keddie and Potter combined to clear the ball off the line as Magennis tried to force it home. The Aberdeen forward ended up in the net and was a little fortunate to escape with a yellow card as he reacted badly to Gallacher’s enquiries as to his condition, pushing the Pars keeper in the chest in a brief bout of handbags.
Paul Willis was next to be booked, more unluckily as he took a free-quick short to Graham before referee Salmond was ready. Paul was a little bemused by the decision but kept his concentration, the next minute just keeping the ball in play to send a pass down the line to Kirk, who beat Foster and sent in a cross which Barrowman touched on to the back post where Graham had a great chance but his downward header bounced high and scraped the woodwork.
Kirk was having to do a lot of tracking back to help out as Foster and Milsom sought to put pressure on Willis down the Dons’ left. Dowie also had his work cut out in this area and his 25th minute block led to a series of corners by the tunnel. The wind gusting from Halbeath Road meant the ball was reluctant to stay inside the quadrant - after Boyle cleared the first inswinger over his own bar, the second was taken with the ball on the move, although this wasn’t deemed worthy of a caution, and in the end Fyvie and Milsom combined to retake the kick with one holding the ball stationary with a finger. Kirk turned this one behind at his near post and eventually the Pars cleared at the fifth time of asking.
The Dons continued to apply pressure from their left – Keddie escaped punishment when he leant on Magennis to defend another cross, and with the game moving into stoppage time Boyle’s attempted headed clearance was too soft and Gallacher had to scramble to collect Jack’s header across the face of goal.
It looked as if the half would finish goalless when the Dons came forward last time – appeals for a penalty were dismissed when Foster’s driven cross cannoned off Dowie’s arm but his hands were by his side so it was only a corner. Only. Fyvie had no difficulty spotting the ball and delivered to the back post where Considine , a name to send a shiver down the spine of older Pars fans, headed home. 1-0 Dons, and barely time to restart.
Half Time: Pars 0 Dons 1
Recent discussions to the effect that the Pars only start playing when behind only gave the most positive of the Pars support cause for optimism. Another early foul (eleven seconds this time) and another shaky start ensued. Boyle was a little luck only to be cautioned for a two footed tackle on Fyvie in 50 minutes although the crime count was evened up a couple of minutes later when Dowie’s hack clear was just about controlled by Graham whose run across the bows of Osbourne tempted a trip 40 yards from goal. The free-kick was only half defended and Burns was lucky to win a corner as his shot seemed to be nowhere near the target when it took a deflection. It was Willis’s turn to struggle with the corner, but at his second attempt he delivered to the back post where Barrowman header was stopped on the line only for the same player to blast home for the equaliser. 1-1.
The Pars defence continued to struggle, having difficulty in clearing their lines before giving a tremendous demonstration of turning defence into attack. Keddie squeezed the ball out to Willis who barely hesitated before hitting a 40 yard diagonal pass to Graham who cut inside his man and from edge of the box lashed in his shot along the deck and in at Gonzalez’ right hand post. 2-1.