Hamilton Academical 1 - 2 Dunfermline AthleticAuthor: Alistair Campbell Date: Saturday, 9th Feb 2013
The Pars suddenly and inexplicably regained some form, with a decent win over the team that had dumped them out of the cup the week before. Andy Kirk ended his scoring drought with a header late in the first half before Kane scored his first goal for the club mid-way through the second. Accies soon got one back, and the Pars were clinging on a bit at the end, but held out for the three points.
Trips to Hamilton never seem to be quite one thing of the other – it hasn’t got the feel of the big city SPL ground, nor has it the charm of the small town visit. On the positive side, it’s not too far, it’s got plenty parking, it’s rarely busy, and the staff on the turnstiles always express the hope that you enjoy the game. Taking your seat in the stand can be hazardous as you have to walk past the warm-up and the chances of being wiped out by a stray ball are proportionately high, but you get a decent view once you are there. What probably counts more is the quality of football on show – but given the second of back-to-back encounters is often a snore-draw between two sides over-familiar with each other, and given the Pars recent form, I wasn’t too hopeful of a good spectacle.
After last week’s disappointing performance, there were some advocates of major changes being rung, but Jim Jefferies largely kept faith with the same squad (although his hand will have been forced somewhat by the availability of players). Out went Husband and Potter, but back came Stephen Jordan, apparently fit, and a there was a surprise promotion for Chris Kane; otherwise it was mostly a case of as you were. That meant Jordan McMillan returned to right back, with Morris and Dowie reverting to their normal roles of left centre-back and right centre-back respectively. There was another slight twist in midfield, as the Pars started with what looked like five, Wallace playing wide on the right, but a little ahead of the other four. Cardle was on the left, Falkingham and Byrne in the middle, with Kane as the most defensively placed of the three. Andy Kirk retained his striking place with Barrowman being injured, and of course Gallacher was in goals.
Although John Potter took a full part in the warm-up, it was as coach (with perhaps an outside chance of making the squad should Jordan have broken down). Instead cover was provided by Dargo, Thomson, Whittle, Hrivnak, and young Millen, who did enough last week to retain a squad place.
As for the home team, they were forced into one change, and a significant one at that, with Alex Neil, many people’s man of the match last week, being forced to sit this one out as he continued to serve a league suspension. Gary Gillespie replaced him in the middle of the park. However Stevie May, possibly the most easily recognizable player in the division, was there and would be Accies’ danger man.
The Pars kicked off, immediately launched an attack, and Falkingham shot in 11 seconds, but his hurried effort ended up in the practice ground behind the home goal. They had a much better effort two minutes later, Falkingham losing his boot but getting the pass away in his stockinged sole, Wallace running onto it and hitting it first time, a swerving, dipping effort which Cuthbert touched over his bar. Wallace was on the corners this week, but his delivery resulted in a near post trundler that Morris hooked over the top.
The Pars’ bright start continued when first Falkingham collected a Jordan shy, dropped his shoulder to go past his man before shooting low too close to Cuthbert, then space opened up for Jordan to have a crack, but Stephen never came close to breaking his scoring duck.
The Pars were well on top at this stage, with Hamilton’s only effort, if it could be called that, being a Crawford hooked cross that Gallacher had to be alert to collect under his crossbar.
However, midway through the half Gallacher could be seen pointing to the bench and it was clear that Jordan was not as fit as had been hoped. Dargo was summoned from his limbering up behind the Pars goal but that was only to given Millen a couple of minutes of warm up before being flung back into the deep end, with McMillan moving over to the left. This switch allowed the home team to get more of a grip of the game, stifling things with a congested midfield which afforded neither side the time to get the ball down and play, and the match became very scrappy.
Nevertheless, eight minutes from the break, the Pars took a lead they just about deserved. Falkingham was caught late and collapsed in a heap, and Gallacher belted the ball out of play. Josh didn’t need treatment but Hamilton sportingly returned the ball to the Pars keeper, who launched it down the park, and a little shove on Kirk gave the Pars a free-kick 35 yards from goal. Wallace whipped it in at head height and Kirk lost his marker to score with a fine header from 8 yards. 1-0 Pars.
It looked like a weight had lifted from Kirk’s shoulders, and he seemed half a yard quicker, although it was Kane who suddenly caught the eye, several times breaking play up to good effect as the Pars aimed to keep their lead at the interval.
Half Time: Accies 0 – 1 Pars
The Pars again started well, and were beginning to look more like the team of earlier in the season. Cardle’s driven centre fell just behind Kirk before Wallace cut in from the right only for Kane to have a complete air shot at the edge of the box. Back came the Pars through Wallace, and Canning’s weak headed clearance was picked up by Falkingham but his drive from the angle was off target. Neat play from Byrne and Wallace allowed Kane a run on goal although his left foot shot was weak and Cuthbert was not unduly troubled.
Of course, a single goal is a slender lead, and when Morris’s pass–back to Gallacher’s weaker foot bobbled at an inopportune moment, hearts were in mouths as Crawford picked up Gall’s poor clearance, but his quick shot was pulled wide. However, the Pars soon doubled their lead. Wallace again found time and space on the right, and a taller man than Joe Cardle might have converted his chip to the back post. As it was, Dunfermline had a corner and Wallace again was the man to deliver a decent ball which was met powerfully by Kane. 2-0 Pars.