Is It Like This Every Week?Date: Thursday, 22nd Jul 2021
Ahhhh, it is good to be back, isn`t it? Scottish football has returned for the 2021-22 campaign, with crowds back too! While the number of supporters being permitted entry into grounds is limited at present, we all hope come the middle of August, we can become accustomed to full stadia once again.
For Dunfermline Athletic, it was on Saturday 7th March 2020 that they were last allowed to enter fans into East End Park. It was against Queen of the South, where 3,597 Supporters were in attendance.
On Saturday, only 1000 Pars fans were able to safely enter their `home`, but it was a sight - and a sound - which the West Fifers had longed to see and hear.
It was almost a utopian afternoon for fans to return; the sun shone brightly with very few clouds in the sky; the temperature soared as kick-off loomed but it was cool heads which gave the Pars support the perfect returning gift.
Within two and a half minutes, new signing Nikolay Todorov had scored fortuitously, as Dumbarton goalkeeper Sam Ramsbottom palmed the ball against the Bulgarian`s thigh and into the net. Then, moments later, Dom Thomas - the man with the Captain`s armband on for a third successive match - twisted and turned, before slamming the ball home. One Pars fan is quoted as saying during the celebrations of Thomas`s goal, "is it like this every week?" - unfortunately, I think the answer is no!
It was easy-street as the Sons struggled to live with the lively movement of Todorov, O`Hara and Wighton, as well as the crossing prowess of Edwards and MacDonald. And it was he, the former Airdrieonians defender, who set up Wighton to make it 3-0 before half-time: this was his second assist of the afternoon. His fellow wing-back Edwards wasn`t keen to be out-done, and started the second-half in similar form as he swung in a cross which Todorov celebrated - however, on further viewing, it was clearly an own goal by the visitors centre-back, Gregor Buchanan.
East End Park may have had 10,000 unoccupied seats, but the fans made themselves heard as they enjoyed a stroll in the sun on Match-Day 3 of the Premier Sports Cup Group Stages. A 4-2 victory had sealed an opening day 3 points for Peter Grant`s side, before a 1-0 loss to St Mirren in Paisley just a few days later.
The new DA Gaffer had made it clear that the Championship title hopefuls can only be such if they stop conceding goals and chances. Deniz Mehmet had rarely been troubled in the Pars net, but was beaten after 55 minutes, to the dismay of Grant.
The former Alloa boss was hoping for a first clean-sheet under his tenure as Manager, but it wasn`t forthcoming after a sting in the tail by Ross MacLean towards the ex-Wasps boss. A slack pass by Ross Graham gifted the winger the opportunity to drift in from the left and drive towards the right-hand side of the penalty area, before coolly passing the ball into the net, as Stevie Farrell`s men grabbed a consolation strike.
But the Pars were to remain dominant and really should`ve scored more than the five that they finished up with. A hat-trick of assists by MacDonald saw O`Hara head home his first of the season at the back post to round off a resounding victory.
As the whole of Mainland Scotland move into Level 0, Clubs can now increase attendances further. For this weekend`s final Premier Sports Cup Group Stage match, Dunfermline can now safely accommodate 2,000 supporters - an addition 1000 on top of last week`s attendance. While there remains no famous Stephen`s Steak Bridies available and many other protocols remain in place for fans attending East End Park, there is enough to cheer about on the pitch, right now, for those attending to forget about life off the pitch, for 90 minutes, at least...