Light At The End Of The TunnelDate: Tuesday, 24th Aug 2021
Friday evening saw a glimmer of hope for Pars fans, as they travelled to local rivals Raith Rovers on Match-Day 3 of the SPFL Cinch Championship.
Unfortunately, the electric atmosphere couldn`t help the match reach a conclusion, with play halted only 12 minutes into the first Fife Derby of the 2021/22 campaign, due to an earlier power cut continuing to cause safety concerns for supporters.
As the crowds anticipated the arrival of the two teams around 7:40pm, the only lights which beamed around Stark`s Park was that of the advertising hoardings specifically there due to the match being live on the BBC Scotland Channel. As Jonathan Sutherland and his panel ad-libbed their way through the temporary stoppage, work went on behind the scenes to try and restore power to Pratt Street.
While the floodlights turned on, and the game then starting, it became apparent very quickly that fire alarms, PA announcements and lighting were causing issues in both the home and away stands. Gavin Duncan, the match referee, was alerted to the ongoing problems and after consultation with the Rovers` Safety Officer and Police Scotland`s Match Commander, it was agreed that the game must be suspended, with a new date yet to be decided.
Despite very little time for football to occur, Peter Grant`s men had shown encouraging signs of improvement. Changes were made following the 5-0 defeat away to Rangers in the Premier Sports Cup, particularly in defence, as Lithuanian defender Vytas Gaspuitis made his league debut for this term, while Leon Jones made his first competitive appearance for Athletic, with Aaron Comrie on `Dsddy Duties` following the birth of his son Mason that morning.
Neither goalkeeper was forced into action, but it was the visitors who pushed hard and looked the more likely to score, with a Dan Pybus driven effort from just outside the box the closest attempt during those brief moments out on the field. Even though supporters left the McDermid Stand frustrated, they must have taken hope that there was light at the end of the tunnel, as they sang the players back into the dressing room.
This weekend sees Dunfermline take on Arbroath, who are coming to East End Park on the back of an impressive victory over Partick Thistle last Saturday. The 3-1 triumph at Gayfield - especially after going 1-0 down - just emphasises the difficulties posed by Dick Campbell`s men this weekend. It is vitally important that the Pars pick up 3 points to kick-start their league campaign, as they find themselves sitting bottom of the pile so early on in the term, albeit they have played one match less than most other clubs.
With Saturday`s fixture the first where there is no major restrictions around supporters entering East End Park, the Football Club will be hoping for a bumper crowd to get right behind the lads and cheer them on to victory. There are signs of improvement, but the real test of that statement will come this weekend, when the part-time Red Lichties travel to West Fife.