Dunfermline Athletic 1 Airdrie Utd 2Author: Alistair Campbell Date: Sunday, 5th May 2013
The Pars somehow contrived to lose this despite dominating in terms of chances created, and a couple of defensive lapses allowed already relegated Airdrie to score the goals that consigned the Pars to the play-offs. Although it was goal-less at half-time, that score-line wasn’t expected to last, and that soon proved true, the surprise being that it was the visitors who took the lead. Ryan Thomson eventually equalised but substitute Willie McLaren scored what proved to be the winner, despite wave after wave of Dunfermline attacks.
This has been one of those seasons you would be happy to see the back of, one that had started with such promise, before crumbling amidst the long predicted financial cataclysm. Of course, there have been many positives, and the club’s very survival may prove to be one of its greatest triumphs, but I’m sure many Pars fans would be looking forward to the close-season.
There was still a job to be done, though, after the 95th minute equaliser at Firhill denied the Pars guaranteed safety, but Jim Jefferies was able to make a couple of changes, introducing both Geggan and Wallace into the starting eleven, at the expense of Potter and Byrne who both dropped to the bench. This allowed his favoured 4-4-2, with Hrivnak in goals, Millen, Young, Morris and Whittle, happily recovered from his midweek injury, at the back, Falkingham, Husband, Geggan and presumably Wallace in midfield and a front two of Smith and Thomson.
The problem was that with 30 seconds of the kick-off, with Wallace, Thomson and Smith nearly manufacturing a way through the Airdrie defence, the last named went down injured. It was soon apparent that he couldn’t continue, and eventually half a stretcher party ambled on, and after a delay of in excess of 3 minutes, the young striker was carried off. Chris Kane came on, and Wallace played thereafter as a striker.
This might have disrupted the Pars, but it was hard to tell, as they enjoyed the bulk of the early play. However, they seem a little reluctant to shoot – Falkingham took the ball along the edge of the area in 6 minutes but the perfect opening never materialised. In eleven minutes, after a near thing where Morris had to head clear from close to his line, the Pars broke and Kane sent Wallace clear but the ball wouldn’t settle and the chance was gone. The Pars soon won their first corner which Millen curled straight into the arms of Arthur, but the Airdrie keeper was left helpless midway through the half when Falkingham’s quick feet allowed a chance to shoot, but the ball came back off the post.
Next to show was Husband down the right, but his cross just evaded Whittle’s late run. Then it was Thomson’s turn, bursting through on the right, but his shot crashed back off the bar.
Of course, Airdrie, lacking one or two familiar names, but not being reduced to naming a 14 year old boy in their squad, did have one or two moments of their own –Hrivnak took two attempts to stop Coogans’ volley and Watt headed into the side-netting when the Pars were nearly caught napping following a short corner. However, when Airdrie did come forward the Pars were able to hit them on the break, but it was mostly Dunfermline, and they created and spurned more chances and even forced Hetherington into crashing Husband’s cross onto his own bar as he tried to clear.
Still the Pars came forward and should really have scored in 38 minutes when Kane fed in Wallace, he held off the defender and teed up Thomson who somehow sent the ball wide from 10 yards. Then it was Wallace’s turn to waste a golden opportunity when he was again through one on one with the keeper, but instead of shooting, allowed the keeper to dispossess him.
Given the balance of play, it was hard to see how the game was goalless at the interval, but goalless it was.
Half time: Pars 0 Diamonds 0
If the Pars thought that things were bound to go in their favour, they soon got a rude awakening. An early Airdrie attack was eventually cleared at the second attempt, but the Pars defence didn’t learn their lesson and again hesitated when the ball was played back in, and Coogans, looking suspiciously offside, showed how to finish. 1-0 Airdrie.
Frustration was beginning to show- Wallace reacted badly to a tackle Lamie, but the referee Craig Thomson deemed a yellow card sufficient punishment for each player. This could have proved awkward not long after when Wallace latched on to Whittle’s through pass and went down as he tried to go round the keeper, but a goal kick was given.