Dunfermline Athletic 5 - 3 MontroseAuthor: Alistair Campbell Date: Tuesday, 18th Jan 2011
From the sublime to the ridiculous. It’s as if the Pars response to the latest league restructuring shenanigans was to decide revert to the old fashioned idea of entertaining the paying customer. Eight goals, two penalties, a red-card, and the sight of Austin McCann in goals gave value for money, but the Pars could have made it so much easier for themselves.
Take two for the cup match, and the feeling was that Montrose had had their moment, and this would be a comfortable victory for the Athletic. Jim McIntyre made a couple of changes: Wullie Gibson, now happily recovered from his meningism, started in place of Willis, and what may or may not be a planned striker rotation policy meant McDougall was in and Clarke was out. Ryan Thomson made his second successive start, despite Phinn being fit enough to make the squad; Cardle dropped out. Montrose gaffer Steven Tweed named the same eleven that had earned the draw in the original staging of the tie.
The Pars kicked-off playing towards the empty Cowdenbeath end and dominated early possession but seemed overcome by a reluctance to shoot. Thomson had a great early chance – a fine McDougall pass sent McCann on the overlap, he got to the bye-line and picked out Ryan’s well-timed run but the youngster headed over from 6 yards.
However, the goal came soon enough. Woods hit a long ball down the right seeking to use McDougall’s pace. Steven played it back to Gibson, whose cross found Kirk unmarked at the back post and the Northern Irishman nodded home. Simple, but effective, and 1-0.
A bad start for Steven Tweed became worse when he limped off with a hamstring strain and it should have been worse still in 19 minutes when McDougall’s cut back gave Gibson the chance to pick his spot, but he seemed to change his mind at the last moment and Wood blocked with his leg.
The Pars had their tails up – Gibson picked up where Kirk had faltered and drove narrowly over the bar in 20 minutes, and McDougall was similarly off-target a couple of minutes later. Montrose on the other hand were struggling to get forward, although when Tosh got away on the half-hour mark Thomson did well to track back and head clear. The visitors did win their first corner 6 minutes from the break when Cameron got forward and McGregor was forced to turn behind, but this proved more beneficial to the home team. The corner came in and eluded everyone, squeaking past the far post and Smith took a quick bye-kick to Gibson in loads of space on the right. Wullie ran at pace towards the Montrose goal, before unleashing a shot that crashed down off the cross-bar and possibly over the line, but McDougall was following-up and he jumped and chested the ball home to double the lead.
Half-time: Pars 2 Gable Endies 0
We weren’t privy to the Pars’ management team’s half-time instructions, but keeping things tight for 5 or 10 minutes before pressing on might have featured in the chat. Instead, the Pars lost a goal almost immediately due to some early carelessness. The visitors won a series of throws-in in front of the main stand, and from the last Tosh was alert enough to step off his man, find a yard of space and play a reverse ball in to McCord whose cross-shot was saved by Smith only for the ball to cannon off Woods and over the line. 2-1.
Fortunately (and that may be the apposite word) the two goal lead was restored straight from the kick-off. The ball found its way to Graham on the left and his chip from the left edge of the box sailed over Wood’s head and nestled in the top right hand corner. 3-1 to the Pars and Graham’s first goal of the season. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say he meant it.
Having waited all season for that goal Graham had two near things in the next two minutes. Another good Gibson run ended with Wullie nearly squeezing the ball through to his colleague in prime position. A minute later and Graham did have the ball, but his shot cum cross went across the face of the goal and out. However, the goal did come – Gibson made a diagonal cross field run, slipped the ball through to McCann who had timed his ran into the channel to perfection, and although the captain had the chance to shoot, his cutback rebounded to Graham who slammed home from 6 yards. 4-1.