Airdrie Utd 3 Dunfermline Athletic 3Author: Alistair Campbell Date: Sunday, 10th Mar 2013
Just when all hope seemed lost, the Pars rallied from a 2 goal deficit to snatch a point at New Broomfield. Whether this is a portent of things to come, or merely false hope remains to be seen. On the pitch, it was goals from Husband, Wallace and Kirk that cancelled out goals from Blockley, Donnelly and McLaren.
Supporting the Pars these days is a painful business. Very few fans made the trip west, perhaps saving their money for a more important use in the days ahead, and the visiting car-park was nearly empty. Those fans there were huddled in a section of the one stand open for business, at the mercy of a freezing wind whipping through the stadium.
As for team matters - as if Jim Jefferies didn’t have his troubles to seek, he had selection difficulties as well. Out injured were Jordan, Byrne, Falkingham and Barrowman; suspended were Geggan and Jordan McMillan (not Ross McMillan according to the Scotsman, obviously getting confused somewhere). However, after last week’s words, all the remaining players seemed to be willing to play. This still meant a rare change in formation, with the Pars starting with 3 centre-backs in the shape of Potter in the middle, flanked by Morris to his left and Dowie. It looked like Whittle and Millen were to be the wing-backs, but with Whittle picking up Jamie Bain, who was playing high up the right, and Millen marking Willie McLaren who tending to sit deeper, the formation had a lop-sided look about it. This was compounded by Ryan Thomson playing ahead of the midfield on the right, but behind the sole striker Dargo. Husband and Kane were in the middle and Wallace was principally on the left, but looking to get forward with Thomson.
At least this meant the bench had an attacking feel about it – as well as Andy Kirk and former Diamond Joe Cardle, there was young forward Allan Smith and another youngster, the defender Grant Munro.
After a swift change of ends, the Pars kicked off. One thing they wanted to do was avoid an early goal. However, barely 90 seconds into the game, Gallacher was left hugely exposed when McLaren’s free-kick came in from the Airdrie right, but saved well from Donnelly’s diving header, palming the ball away before it was hacked behind. A let off, then, and the Pars should have capitalised five minutes later when Husband burst down the right, but his seemingly inch-perfect cross was taken off Dargo’s toe at the death.
Husband then had a direct shot from a more central position but Robbie Thomson in the Airdrie goal was equal to it. Then disaster struck. Another ball in came in from the left, Morris didn’t pick up Blockley and the midfielder’s header beat Gallacher low to his right. 1-0 Airdrie.
Gallacher was kept busy: a corner was given to Airdrie in 19 minutes – it looked an incorrect decision, but referee Allan had no chance to blow for an imaginary push to even things up as the delivery from the quadrant was poor and Husband cleared. The ball was immediately sent back in and Evans’ header was net-bound but Gallacher turned It round the post. The corner from the other wing was deep, and with Potter having to chase the ball out, Buchanan was able to get on the end of a cross with a looping header that Gallacher held under the bar.
The Pars hadn’t created much, but Thomson showed good control midway through the half to chest the ball and turn before being bundled over 27 yards from goal. Free- kick. Wallace’s run over the ball didn’t full anyone, before Husband simply leathered the ball past the motionless keeper. 1-1 and the Pars were back in it.
In fact, they were more than back in it, after the dodgy start, and another heart in mouth moment when Donnelly stumbled in the box after evading Potter, the Pars got on top. A long ball over the top with Wallace in an off-side position but not participating saw the keeper charge out of his goal to the touchline only to be beaten by Dargo, but he couldn’t take advantage from the keeper’s lack of position.
Just after the half hour, Husband turned defence into attack with a trademark 40 yard pass to Whittle who managed to get forward for once and cross, but Kane’s attempted volley from the D almost literally hit the corner flag. Then Wallace picked up a poor pass, a lovely reverse ball sent Dargo away, and Wallace made a lot of ground to get on the end of his cross, but his volley whistled past the post, otherwise it could have been a goal of the season contender. A few corners came to nothing, but the Pars would be reasonably happy with the way the match seemed to be going at the break.
Half-time: Diamonds 1 Pars 1
Both sides endured a shaky start to the second period. Another of Husband’s trademarks is getting caught in possession as he looks for the pass, and it happened again, but McLaren couldn’t take advantage and Morris somehow defended. Then Wallace profited from a poor pass to break, but Dargo didn’t have the pace to capitalise.
However, the next goal went Airdrie’s way, and again poor defending was involved. A free-kick was conceded on the right, McLaren knocked it to the back post, it was nodded back into the middle and Donnelly was first to react. 2-1 Airdrie
As well as making it miserable for the fans, the gusting wind was causing difficulties for the players, particularly those trying to deal with high balls. Morris was short with a headed back pass in 55 minutes and Gallacher had to head clear, Bain having a chance to shoot at the open goal, or play in Donnelly, but achieved neither. Meanwhile the Pars were again getting on top – Wallace was played in on the left and Robbie Thomson made a good save, then a series of 1-2s involving Husband nearly set up Ryan Thomson but his shot was blocked.
Of course Airdrie were still dangerous – Bain sent in another of those crosses that just evade everyone, then the always dangerous McLaren found space to draw another fine save from Gall.