Dunfermline Athletic 0 Partick Thistle 1Author: Alistair Campbell Date: Saturday, 18th Aug 2012
The Pars fell back to earth with a bump after their fine result last week with a disappointing performance against Jackie McNamara’s Partick Thistle. Although the teams were well matched, Steve Lawless scored what proved to be the crucial strike midway through the half and the Pars struggled to create any decent chances to equalise.
The first home league game of the season, and we were promised some innovations. Settling down into my new seat in the Main Stand (albeit without my season ticket, yet) I wasn’t quite sure what to expect – possibly a melange of the history of all things West Fife, John Yorkston parachuting into the ground to avoid the queues at the turnstiles, and Macca making a hash of “hey Jude”. None of these materialised, but the availability of the haggis pie was a slight surprise (although quite tasty), there were large banners (and fans) in the North West, dancing girls, and an only partly successful attempt to get the East End Elite to help announce the team by shouting out surnames of the line-up when prompted by the first name, rather as is done at the Emirates. This last could do with a bit of work – whereas Arsenal have plenty people with recognisable first names – Theo, Andrei, Robin (well, not any longer) there are too many Pauls, Stephens and Andys in the Pars set-up. Not to mention a lack of squad numbers and big screen.
Speaking of team lines, the Pars had largely kept faith with the side that had made such an excellent start to the league campaign with Joe Cardle being the only change, coming in on the left wing at the expense of Whittle and so it was still a 4-5-1 despite being at home. Gallacher was in goals, with a back four of Geggan, Dowie, Potter and Jordan, a central midfield trio of McMillan, Thomson and Falkingham, Willis and Cardle wide and Barrowman leading the line.
Paul Burns and Craig Dargo disappeared from the squad, meaning there was a place on the bench for Chris Kane, as well as Husband, Kirk, Whittle and Hrivňák.
Jackie McNamara sent his side out with a similar formation, Hugh Murray sitting front of his defence and Kris Doolan as sole striker.
The Pars were in their first choice kit (with white shorts and socks) but Partick were in their change strip – navy blue with a purple trim – and it was they who kicked off, defending the Cowdenbeath end to begin with, which housed a healthy crowd of 500 or so Jags fans.
The Pars made a promising start, picking up where they left off last week, and a Thomson surge earned an early Cardle corner which eluded keeper Fox and went beyond the far post. On the other side, Willis beat Bannigan and laid back to Barrowman but Archibald was in quickly to block.
Thistle on the other hand were quick on the break, but first Thomson was back to head clear and then Dowie’s cushioned header back to Gallacher in 13 minutes stopped any danger.
The Pars created their first chance in 14 minutes – Barrowman couldn’t get on the end of a route 1 clearance, but Willis running behind did, and his header fell for Thomson, but he dragged his left foot-shot wide. Willis again was the potential provider a minute later when a Thistle defender slipped, but he couldn’t find the killer ball from the bye-line.
There was little to choose between the sides at this stage – Erskine’s deflected shot from the edge of the box briefly troubled Gallacher, before Thistle took the lead midway through the half. Erskine’s pass found Lawless in the box, he made a bit of space for himself and tucked the ball beyond Gallacher from 10 yards. 1-0 Jags.
The Pars tried to hit back immediately, Willis working the ball onto his left foot in a central position but his shot lacked power. The Pars then suffered another set-back when McMIllan went down injured, and it was immediately decided he couldn’t continue, the captain limping off after treatment to be replaced by Husband. Within seconds, the sub nearly got on the end of a Barrowman flick, but Fox was there first.
The Pars struggled to make headway: Thomson went down in the box but referee Brines was unimpressed, and then there was a bizarre moment when Potter misjudged a header and caught the ball, rather like Richard Gough had once done in an International match in Switzerland. There was no sprinkler-head to blame this time, and a yellow card ensued.
Half time: Pars 0 Jags 1
After the half-time crossbar challenge – another innovation – where Super Johnny Watson came close with his two attempts (we’ll draw a discreet veil over Provost Leishman’s efforts) the second half got under way with no changes in either personnel or formation.
Partick started the better, Welsh whistled an early shot past Gallacher’s right hand post, and Paton soon did likewise. The Pars had a rare bust of cohesive play involving Barrowman, Willis and Cardle, but that was notable more for its rarity than its ultimate threat and with Barrowman lacking support and being booked following an aerial tussle, it was clear the Pars needed to change things.