Dunfermline Athletic

Dundee 1 Dunfermline Ath 1

Author: Alistair Campbell Date: Wednesday, 23rd Mar 2011

Both sides were accorded a standing ovation after battling to a draw at Dens Park. A sensational Alex Burke strike had the Pars in the lead at the break, but Dundee showed the fighting qualities that have contributed to their 22 match unbeaten run when A. Trialist bagged the equaliser. Try as they might, neither side could find a winner.

To paraphrase Macca, every game from now to the end of the season is a cup-tie, and thus we saw the Pars “cup-tie” formation – four at the back, a midfield trio with two generally holding players, two wide players, and a solo runner up front. If the set-up was not unexpected, there was more doubt about the actual personnel with Gary Mason’s suspension meaning the midfielder was having to sit with the ordinary joes in the stand, but in the end Dowie and Burke were the pair at the base of the central triangle and Hardie at its apex and Buchanan the lone forward. McDougall started on the right, Graham on the left and the defence was unchanged – Smith in goals, and Woods, Rutkiewicz, Keddie and McCann along the back four. There was a further surprise on the bench where Aaron Scott, the under 19s captain featured, alongside Paterson, Clarke, Higgins and Cardle.
The Dees have been adept at exploiting the trialist rule and included 2 such in their sixteen, both Lochee Utd “players”, although the provenance of the starting number 10 was questionable as Jake Hyde had apparently never featured for the local junior outfit. No matter, the home team started with a 4-4-2, where Gary Harkins could be expected to pull the strings in the middle of the park.

There was a quiet start to the game with both sides scoping each other out, although Rutkiewicz blocked an early chance in the fourth minute. McDougall and in particular Nicky Riley were prominent down their sides’ respective right wings without creating anything particularly threatening; indeed there was more excitement off the pitch when Smith’s clearance into touch saw Gerry McCabe turn and kick the dug-out in frustration.

However, both sides eventually settled, and McIntosh brought the fans in the main stand to their feet when he found the net in 18 minutes from close range, only his shot had gone past the outside of the post. The Dees were beginning to get on top and had their first shot on target midway through the half when Burke was penalised for a high foot and Lockwood hit the free-kick from 25 yards out – but straight at Smith. Hardie then got himself booked when his attempt to find McCann on the overlap was intercepted and he was just pipped to the loose ball by Irvine. To be fair to the Pars midfielder, he got there as quick as he could.

Harkins was next to try his luck from a McIntosh cut-back but again Smith wasn’t covered whereupon the Pars took an unexpected lead. The ball was quickly moved forward to Burke in an advanced position on the left near the corner of the Dees box. Alex has seemed reluctant to shoot of late, but not on this occasion – from 30 yards he hit a belter that was always beating Rab Douglas to the keeper’s left. 1-0 Pars

As expected, the stunned home side tried to hit back – a Harkins glancing header was over-glanced, and Keddie was forced into a saving block when McIntosh was waved onside – whereas at the other end Buchanan, who was having a tough shift, escaped his man in 41 minutes but overran the ball as he headed along the bye-line at pace. Still, the Pars lead at the interval was confirmed when Lockwood’s superb driven cross-field pass to Riley was worked via Harkins to Irvine, but again he hit straight at Smith from the edge of the penalty area.

Half time: Dees 0 Pars 1

For half-time entertainment we were treated to the almost obligatory theme from “the Great Escape” as well as the charming ditty “Mama, please don’t make me wear tangerine” before the teams re-emerged and the Dees kicked off attacking the Tannadice end housing the Pars support, starting strongly. Harkins again found the target from 25 yards but again had insufficient power or direction to trouble Smith, unlike the case in 55 minutes when a perfectly weighted pass from the playmaker found the trialist through on goal. His shot seemed to be arcing for the top corner but Smith pulled off a superb finger-tip save to deny the Lochee man.

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