Dunfermline Athletic 5-0 CowdenbeathAuthor: Alistair Campbell Date: Wednesday, 29th Dec 2010
The late decision to bring forward February’s fixture was justified when the Pars went 4 points clear at the top of the First Division. After leading through a Kirk goal, substitute Clarke scored a double to add to a Phinn tap-in; an own goal completed the rout.
The Pars made one change – Willis, who had looked decent when he replaced Cardle against the Jags kept the jersey, playing on the right side of the four in midfield, with Phinn and Mason in the middle and Graham on the left. The defensive 5 was left unchanged as they sought their third successive shut-out, with Smith the custodian behind Woods, Dowie, Keddie and captain McCann. Kirk and McDougall were given another chance to end their goal drought in attack. McGregor kept his place on the bench, but Thomson came in for Higgins.
As for the visitors - promoted teams often follow one of two paths for the first quarter – either they maintain the momentum of their successful season, or else they struggle to adapt to life in the higher echelons. Somewhat surprisingly, after ex-boss Danny Lennon had raided the squad for his St Mirren team, Cowden had followed the former path, with a very creditable star, but are beginning to struggle a little, particularly on the road. However, Jimmy Nicholl’s sides are usually well-drilled and with veteran Colin Cameron looking to pull the strings, the Pars had no right to expect an easy game.
It was a cagey start, Dowie having to slide in to stop and early break from Fairbairn, and then Graham being sent clear by a reverse-ball from McDougall, only for his shot to be blocked. The first of several Willis corners to the back-post saw Keddie win the header well, but his effort was knocked clear.
Dowie picked up an early yellow card when referee Madden might have been more understanding of his mistimed tackle on Cameron in the middle of the park, although the crime count was evened up in 24 minutes when Baxter upended Graham 25 yards out as the winger latched onto a fine Willis pass. Kirk’s attempt from the free-kick cannoned off the wall allowing a Cowden break, but Dowie was back to shepherd the ball to safety.
The Pars’ attacking ambitions weren’t helped by being caught off-side several times, McDougall being the principal culprit. Slicker passing was required, and they certainly tried to increase the tempo, albeit with mixed results to begin with. Slowly, though, realisation seemed to dawn that they were the better team, Willis began to grow in confidence and the Pars took a slightly fortuitous lead just before the half hour. Graham had again been denied by Hay, who parried Keddie’s effort from the corner. The ball was hacked clear to Willis who volleyed across goal and Kirk scored a marksman’s goal, deflecting the ball over the line. 1-0 Pars.
It should have been two ten minutes later, Kirk getting the break of the ball from Willis’s flick, running through one on one with Hay, but his stabbed effort struck the keeper rather than the back of the net. Nevertheless, the Pars went in at the break with the lead.
Half-time: Pars 1 Blue Brazil 0
The Pars needed a second goal (if not a third, this season) to make the game safe, and nearly obliged with 3 minutes of the restart. Willis got free on the right and put in another good cross to Graham at the back post. DG could have volleyed on goal, but laid the ball back instead to the onrushing Phinn, but Hay was equal to the midfielder, saving well to his left. Graham went for goal himself in 56 minutes when McDougall’s direct run gave him an opportunity, but, not for the first time in the match, couldn’t keep the ball down.
The Pars kept up the pressure and from a corner Dowie headed for goal, but Woods and Kirk got in a bit of a fankle and the ball was knocked off the line.
Time for a couple of changes, McKenzie came on for Fairbairn and Clarke came on for Kirk. Pat’s first touch was an ambitious back-post volley from a Graham centre, but instead it was the Cowden substitute who came closest when his sixty-second minute cross came off the bar with Smith back-pedalling furiously.
A minute later though, and the Pars had the second, in simple fashion. A chip over the top was chased down by Clarke who fired through Hay’s legs from the angle. 2-0 Pars.