Hibernian 0 -1 Dunfermline AthleticAuthor: Alistair Campbell Date: Saturday, 5th Nov 2011
Austin McCann was the unlikely match-winner as the Pars ended a run of 8 games without a win. The skipper scored his first ever goal in Dunfermline colours in the third minute and his team-mates dug deep to collect the three points.
The Pars haven’t enjoyed many wins at Easter Road over the years, at one stage going more than 40 years without a league victory, before the era of Crawford and Brewster saw them travel Leithwards across the bridge as favourites. Those days are long gone, and the latest injury crisis meant that some of the walking wounded would be pressed into action on the bench as Macca had to make several enforced changes - Gary Mason was of course suspended and Jason Thomson had been added to the injury list (possibly along with Easton and Clarke who were sitting in the stand). After the 3-6-1 came unstuck (even before it was forcibly changed to a 3-5-1) last week Macca made a change to a 3-5-2. The fit again Buchanan would be a welcome striking partner for the lonely Kirk, Dowie came in as the rightmost of the 3 centre-backs (along with Potter and Keddie) and youngsters Thomson and Willis would come into the middle and right respectively of the 5 man midfield, which also contained Burns and Graham. With Gallacher in goals, there was room for one left wing-back and Jim MacIntyre kept faith with his skipper at the expense of Boyle who dropped to the bench, alongside McDougall, keeper Smith, Byrne and Young with the barely fit Cardle and Hardie making up the 18.
Hibernian had a relative wealth of riches to choose from, naming Griffiths and O’Connor as their strike-force and the impressive Hanlon and Wotherspoon at full-back.
The Pars kicked off but Hibs had the first chance after Galbraith caused some bother, but O’Connor’s tame effort didn’t particularly trouble Gallacher. Nice for the keeper to get an early touch; in contrast, Stack’s first touch was to pick the ball out of the net as the Pars took an early lead. A throw in on the right saw Kirk play the ball back to Willis and his first time cross was met by an unmarked McCann of all people and he volleyed into the roof of the net from close range. 1-0 Pars.
Hibs were clearly rattled by the early set-back – a poor pass back saw Burns charge down Stack’s clearance, although the ball screwed sideways and out for a throw, and then a fine run into the box by Buchanan saw Wotherspoon just nip ahead of Kirk to clear as the Pars looked to double their lead. However, the game soon became end to end and the Pars had to be on their mettle to keep their lead. Dowie put his foot in to good effect and Graham and Burns were no strangers to helping out their defence, defending deep if they had too. The home team was restricted to shooting from distance, Agogo having a couple of long range efforts, neither of which gave Gallacher much cause for concern.
The Pars were also quick to hit on the break, Graham’s pass nearly finding Thomson, and then after Burns had won an aerial battle with Stevenson, Kirk tried to catch Stack off his line from fully 40 yards but his effort was always a little too high. Kirk did have a great chance in 36 minutes though as the Pars pressed. A ball into the box saw Thomson nod the ball back to the Northern Irishman whose left foot volley looked to be sneaking in at the far post only for Stack to pull off a fine fingertip save. Willis was on all dead ball deliveries and he found Dowie who stooped to flash a header wide as claims for a penalty were ignored by referee Craig Thomson.
It was good to see the Pars do plenty attacking and Buchanan’s ability to hold the ball up meant they could get forward in numbers. Not only that, they were willing to shoot when they had the chance, as demonstrated by Willis in particular, although he couldn’t manage to get his 43rd minute effort on target. The lively Griffiths did force a save however as Gallacher was finally tested just on half-time. The Wolves player chested the ball down in the box, turned and shot, and Gall could only bear the ball away, straight to the lurking O’Connor but Dowie threw himself in the way as the former Lokomotiv Moscow striker pulled the trigger and the lead was preserved.
Half time: Hibees 0 Pars 1
A reaction was expected from the home team and they upped the tempo at the start of the second period, enjoying lots of possession but without troubling Gallacher, at least initially. Instead it was Willis who finally bent a left-footed shot on target but without enough power to worry Stack.
Hibs came right back and Potter was on his toes to slide in with a saving tackle as the fans turned up the volume and Gallacher was finally called into action in 57 minutes when taking no chances to tip over a Griffiths’ header. That marked a period of sustained pressure. A Kirk slip allowed Hanlon to get forward and cut back to O’Connor but he dragged his shot wide, and then Griffiths on the other side should have at least found the target after going past Keddie but he rifled his shot past the far post.