Dunfermline Athletic

League Leaders? Yer Havin` A Laugh!

Date: Wednesday, 20th Mar 2024

Dunfermline Athletic took on Dundee United, at KDM Group East End Park, on Match-Day 29 of the SPFL cinch Championship, with the final quarter of the campaign underway and every point being a prisoner at this stage of the season.

Jim Goodwin`s side are top of the league and are being chased down by Raith Rovers, so they know any slip-ups could see them blow the title and automatic promotion straight back to the Scottish Premiership.

For Dunfermline, having just came up from League One, a mid-table position this far into the term isn`t bad at all, especially when you then consider the injury situation which hs blighted James McPake`s men throughout the term.

The Pars still have their sights on the promotion play-off places, but also have to be mindful of the relegation play-off zone behind them. A win would be ideal for both sides from this clash in Scotland`s second-tier.

Matty Todd was making his 100th appearance for Athletic and it was the #10 who got the ball rolling for the hosts on Friday evening, as he casually slotted home from a Kane Ritchie-Hosler cut-back. All the hard work was done by striker Alex Jakubiak, who dragged the Dundee United defence out of position before setting the winger free down the right; his low ball across the box was tucked home by Todd for a perfect way to celebrate becoming a centurion in West Fife.

Matty Todd on 100 appearances in Black & White

The Tangerines were huffing and puffing to try get their way back into the match, but Deniz Mehmet wasn`t being tested in the Dunfermline goal. Former Falkirk midfielder, Craig Sibbald, shot wide on a couple of occasions, but there was never any real concern within the Pars ranks defensively. It was in fact the hosts who continued to look the most likely to score, with Jakubiak causing issues every time the ball went forward.

Experienced defenders Declan Gallagher and Kevin Holt were being forced in to decisions they normally wouldn`t make or errors that haven`t been seen from them a lot this term and eventually the pressure paid off, with just under ten minutes until the break. Jakubiak flicked the ball forward from the left and the pacey run of Todd scared Holt into clearing his lines quickly: the former Partick Thistle defender slid in to clear his lines within the area, only to present the ball to Ritchie-Hosler, 20-yards from goal, unmarked. The Englishman rifled the ball past his fellow compatriot, Jack Walton, in the visiting goal to make it 2-0 to Dunfermline Athletic prior to the interval.

Glenn Middleton was brought on at the break by Goodwin, who knew the next goal in the contest would be crucial. The winger replaced central midfielder Jordan Tillson in an attacking substitution. The next goal would come quickly into the final period of play at KDM Group East End Park, less than 10 minutes into the second-half.

However, it came the way of the hosts. Ritchie-Hosler nicked the ball off of the toes of Scott McMann just over the half-way line in the middle of the park, before driving through the centre of park. Jakubiak peeled off to the Pars` right and the United defence once again followed him like a magnet: the ball was laid into him before he coolly knocked it back to the winger who was free with just on-loan Luton Town goalkeeper Walton to beat; the ex-Manchester City youngster kept his composure to find the back of the net, make it 2 goals and assist on the night for himself and 3-0 to Athletic.

Ritchie-Hosler`s return from injury has been a crucial turn in fortunes for Dunfermline as was shown against the league leaders, as contributed to some lovely football.

Kane Ritchie-Hosler speaks to ParsTV post-match

As the home fans sung the praises of their heroes, some of he visiting supporters had seen enough and chose to return over the Tay Bridge earlier than expected. For those who did remain, the saw a side who continued to huff and puff and rarely cause any sweat towards the Dunfermline defence. Mehmet did have to save a long-distanced shot to his left but he saw it all the way and it was a comfortable catch for the gaolie in the end.

With 81 minutes on the clock, a low and hard Middleton cross deflected into the penalty area off of Sam Fisher: the ball fell into the path of Black & White skipper Kyle Benedictus, but he couldn`t steer the ball to safety as it took the tiniest of touches off his toes before squirming into the far corner despite the best efforts of Ewan Otoo to keep the ball out of the net.

A consolation goal for United who never stopped trying, but were never going to score unless they got a slice of a luck such as this on the evening, with the Athletic defence rock-solid throughout.

Highlights: Dunfermline Athletic 3-1 Dundee United

A great win for Dunfermline Athletic in the end, with the home fans questioning Dundee United from the stands - “League Leaders? Yer Havin` A Laugh!”

However, McPake was quick to point out that despite his pleasure and delight at the three points, the performance, the individual brilliance on show; the enjoyable weekend that awaited the Pars faithful, there was still a lot of hard work to go over the remaining 7 matches to make it a successful end to the campaign, and that started with Greenock Morton at Cappielow this weekend.

2 wins out of 3 over the Ton so far this campaign stands the West Fifers in good stead going into Match-Day 30, but Dougie Imrie`s side winning 5-0 just a few short weeks ago against Athletic will still be painful wounds and bad memories for all associated to Dunfermline Athletic and this will keep all of a Black & White persuasion vigilant and on their toes for what is another big match on Saturday.

James McPake chats to Jordan Burt following his sides 3-1 victory over Dundee United

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