Dunfermline Athletic 1
Author: Alistair Campbell Date: Saturday, 17th Jan 2009
Airdrie Utd. 1
Another poor home performance, with Airdrie looking at least as good as the Pars. The difference this week was that one chance went in - and a couple more were missed. At least it will make the cup-tie harder to predict…
Stephen Glass’s torn cartilage meant an enforced change with Jim McIntyre opting to draft in Alex Burke to centre mid-field (Greg Ross getting the spare place on the bench) in what was otherwise both an unchanged line up and an unchanged squad.
After last week’s aberration the Pars lined up to defend the Norrie McCathie end in the first half, and the 4-4 -2 formation was also familiar - Gallacher in goals, a back four of Woods, Shields, Wilson and Muirhead, Phinn and Burke in the middle of the park, Bell on the right, Loy on the left, and Kirk and Bayne the forward duo. Unusually for side visiting East End this season Airdrie chose not to swamp the midfield but matched the Pars’ formation.
A dull start with little to get enthused about; Shields was troubled early on by a combination of Di Giacomo and a bouncing ball, the ball striking his hand in the area but referee Somers ignored the incident, despite the Airdrie player’s attempts to badger him in to giving a spot-kick.
A Burke corner in 7 minutes came to naught, and both keepers’ handling was tested, Hollins collecting a cross from Loy and then Gallacher clutching Cardle’s effort just under his bar. From the latter, the Pars Number 1 sent Muirhead on a run down the left, which ended with a poor final ball which neither Kirk nor Loy could make anything of, and Airdrie hit back on the break. With Muirhead out of position, Wilson was happy to concede a corner with 15 minutes on the clock. Hazley hit the dead ball low into the area, and an unmarked Lynch met the ball first time sending it into the net with Gallacher rooted to his line. 1-0 Diamonds. Who was meant to have been marking the former under 21 internationalist? Muirhead was identified as the culprit, his holding his head in his hands being the giveaway.
One might have expected, or at least hoped, for the Pars to hit back right away, but they continued to struggle; Kirk probably chose the wrong option when pressing in 24 minutes, trying to pick out Loy through the middle when he had Bayne free on the right, a Bell chip was going nowhere in 26 minutes when headed behind for a corner, and in 27 minutes the Pars got their first attempt away when Loy’s flick teed up Bayne. The number 9 got his shot away early - like last week he appeared to mis-hit it; unlike last week the ball was nowhere near the target.
Bell did find the target from distance on the half-hour mark - although keeper Hollis, deputising for the missing Robertson, would have had to have made a howler of Boruc proportions to have let that one in - but the Pars had a better chance (or two) in 36 minutes when Phinn’s initial effort was blocked and his follow-up deflected wide by Donnelly. Again the visitors profited from the Pars attack, quickly sending the ball down to the other end where Gallacher had to dive at McDougall’s feet to prevent a doubling of the deficit, Burke also doing just enough to ensure the winger couldn’t get a shot away.
Airdrie again began to look the likelier of the two sides to do some damage with both Cardle and McDougall prominent. The latter left several players in his wake, cutting in from the right in 39 minutes, but tugged his shot from the edge of the box wide, but Phinn showed a little willingness to get stuck in (and a deal of frustration) with a scything tackle on the same player, and was deservedly booked, although Cardle also got himself carded by throwing a lengthy strop over the same incident and having to be restrained by his team-mates. A more composed Cardle had a dip from 20 yards in the final minute of the half, his effort spinning off Wilson for a corner.
Half time: Pars 0 Diamonds 1
The Pars weren’t really at the races first half and when Willis and Thomson didn’t join Ross, Paterson and Mole for the half time kick-about, instead only appearing for some brief cross field warm up runs before heading back to the dressing room, it was clear that, unusually, a double change was about to be made. The question was - who would make way? There was a long list of possibles, with Muirhead and Bell seeming favourite for the hook, but in fact it was Kirk and Woods who didn’t reappear after the break, Nipper slotting in at right back, Willis taking Bell’s place on the right, Bell moving to the middle, Burke to the left, and Loy joining Bayne up front.