Dunfermline Athletic 1 Ross County 2Author: Alistair Campbell Date: Saturday, 3rd Apr 2010
They say a week is a long time in politics – and we’ll soon know all about that – but half a week is a long time in football. After the Pars put on a tremendous performance and Ross County suffered midweek heart-break, roles were reversed with the visitors easing to victory with first half goals from Vigurs and Barrowman. Bell scores for the Pars but the late onslaught never materialises.
Never change a winning team – that’s what they teach you in Football Management 101. (Although presumably they modify that advice in more advanced courses). Macca made one change – the returning loan signing Chris Smith came into goals at the expense of the injured Paterson, leap-frogging Fleming in the process, figuratively at least, and the Pars started with Smith; Ross, McGregor, Dowie and McCann; Woods, Bell, Mason and Gibson; McDougall and Campbell.
Ross County are a different side from Dundee, one without the burden of expectation weighing on their shoulders, and with a cup semi-final to look forward to, and they lined up with a 4-1-4-1 – Richard Brittain in front of the back four, Barrowman ploughing a lone furrow up front, but with Paul Di Giacomo wide on the right. They looked set up to frustrate the Pars, and this was compounded when after winning the toss they opted to attack the Cowdenbeath end in the first half.
County had all the ball early doors; Smith had to deal with a couple of tricky pass-backs but acquitted himself well, and his relative confidence with the ball saw him attempt a sixty yard cross-field pass to pick out Woods. However the keeper was called into action in the 8th minute when a simple ball released Craig – his timing wasn’t right but he didn’t do anything rash and although Craig took the ball round him, he was forced wide and his shot was off target.
The Pars finally got over the half-way line in the 11th minute – Gibson managed to beat 3 men, but McCann couldn’t do anything with the pass – and in the 13th minute they had a good chance. Bell managed to head-flick on a cross-field pass to send Woods clear, but he seemed a little slow to react, and when he did, he fired his angled drive wide from 15 yards.
The Pars regretted this miss almost immediately. A free-kick was conceded, half-defended, and the Pars tried to pass their way out of defence, only Gibson passed to Scott. County retained possession, stuck the ball to the back stick where Vigurs had sneaked forward and he tucked it away nicely. 1-0 County.
This shook the Pars into some sort of action – Campbell latched onto a Bell reverse ball and won a corner. The ball fell to Bell, but he couldn’t get a shot away, and Woods’ drive from the edge of the box deflected off the by now prone Bell and out for a bye-kick. Next Campbell held off two players to cross but Mason was a foot away from connecting, and a minute late it was Campbell again trying to burrow his way through a mass of players, winning a free kick 30 yards out which Gibson put on target but too close to McGovern to cause any problems. These were rare moment of offence, the Pars just couldn’t get going, and after Barrowman had wasted a good chance by heading over the bar McIntyre made a brave, and relatively early, change: on came Cardle, with Ross being a tad unlucky to give way. Woods went to right back, and Cardle and Gibson swapped wings.
This change had an immediate impact – but not in the way intended. McGregor seemed to switch off for a second, Barrowman got a run on him, collected a through ball, drew the keeper and slipped the ball into the net. 2-0 County.
Cardle did then get a couple of kicks – from County players. Cardle swung in the first free-kick himself, which caused some bother in the Staggies’ defence, but Bell couldn’t control; McCann had to take the second as Jo Jo had jarred his back, and this time Gibson volleyed wide.
McGregor made a complete hash of an attempted tackle with 5 minutes to go to the break, but Dowie got back to deny Vigurs, and the Pars stopper was then slightly fortunate to get a second chance to foil Barrowman as County finished the half well on top.
Half time: Pars 0 Staggies 2.
The visitors started the second half seemingly happy with what they had, conceding a lot of possession which the Pars could do little with. “Even the pie queue moves quicker” was one observation, although the home team finally managed a piece of cohesive football, which ended when Woods’ cross appeared to come off Cardle’s knee and the ball was gifted to McGovern.