Partick Thistle 0 -1 Dunfermline AthleticAuthor: Alistair Campbell Date: Saturday, 1st Dec 2012
Dunfermline beat Partick Thistle for the first time in three outings this season, progressing to the fifth round of the Scottish Cup after Andrew Barrowman’s first half header proved to be the only goal of the game. With the Jags reduced to 10 men after a “last man” incident in the first half, the Pars spurned several chances to put the game beyond the reach of the hosts, and had Paul Gallacher to thank for saving a second half penalty. Barrowman turned villain after picking up two quick yellow cards in the dying seconds but the Pars clung on and hope for a money spinning tie in the next round.
This year’s cup competition has been accelerated by the desire to accommodate a winter break for the SPL, and once again the Pars had the uninspiring prospect of an away trip to a league rival. With winter having arrived, and near-freezing temperatures causing some slippery conditions under-wheel and under-foot, the Pars were hoping that to put one over the league leaders, in front of a crowd significantly lower than had witnessed their last match against Dumbarton.
The big news on the team front was the welcome and overdue return from injury for left-back Stephen Jordan, with a further surprise being the inclusion from the start for Craig Dargo. Barrowman was also back in the starting eleven, which meant that Cardle, Kirk and Wallace were all demoted to the bench. The formation was still a 4-4-2 however, albeit one with less width. Gallacher was in goals, McMillan was back in the right-back berth with Morris and Dowie the centre-backs. Geggan was in central midfield with Husband, Falkingham on the right side, and Ryan Thomson started on the left. There was no place for Potter as substitute defensive cover, with Byrne completing the squad of 16.
Thistle were along the usual lines, although missing Paul Paton and of course keeper Scott Fox, injured in the last game against the Pars. Shuggie Murray was back in a holding midfield position, designed to give freedom to the likes of Forbes, Erskine and Lawless who could all pose the Pars serious problems. Graeme Smith, an experienced and slightly eccentric figure, was between the sticks.
Even peering into the blinding sun, setting over the main stand, it became apparent that something wasn’t quite right when the teams lined up for kick-off. The Pars only had 10 players, but belatedly Paul Gallacher emerged from the tunnel to join his team-mates to ensure that the game would start with a full complement. The Pars had the ball but soon lost it and Thistle immediately swung the ball from the left to O’Donnell on the right, a tactic that had tormented the Pars in the early stages of the last meeting. This time Thistle were up against the wiser head of Stephen Jordan and although an early corner was conceded, the move proved ultimately fruitless.
It was a much more level start – with slight advantage to the Jags after Geggan, seemingly the only Dunfermline outfield player with black boots, incurred a 7th minute booking for a rash challenge.
Thistle were content to build form the back before seeking to get either of their full backs forward to deliver dangerous balls into the Pars’ box but these were being dealt with by Morris and Dowie. Meanwhile at the other end, Dargo was the most potent threat. The Pars had a good chance in 12 minutes when a tackle saw the ball deflect to Thomson, who played a nice ball into the channel for Dargo but he was a little too wide to be effective and Smith saved his shot. Dargo himself was the beneficiary of Barrowman’s tackle midway through the half, bursting through on the left, but Smith was wise to his wrong-foot poke and got a touch to divert the ball for a corner.
Thistle should also have been alert to Dargo’s movement (especially since he had spent a few months at Firhill last season) but were caught out again in 28 minutes when he chased a header from Smith’s clearance, got himself between Muirhead and the ball, then tumbled under the merest of touches at the edge of the box. If it was a foul, it was a red card, and referee McLean agreed, so off trotted the centre-back, and the Pars had a man advantage. Jordan launched the free-kick miles over the bar into the grass covered disused terracing.
Jackie MacNamara soon withdrew Lawless to bring on Archibald to shore up the defence, as the Thistle fans in the North Stand sang “we only need 10 men”. Five minutes later, the Pars had the lead. Husband centred, Barrowman dummied, but Falkingham couldn’t collect, at least initially, but Josh chased the ball, played it back to Husband who had made himself available on the right, and Stephen instantly delivered a perfect ball for Barrowman to score with a downward header. 1-0 Pars.
The Thistle fans were silenced, but not for long, with their counter attacking style not hugely hampered by their numerical deficit. Erskine cut in from the right but Doolan’s shot was blocked and it spun wide for a harmless corner. Falkingham went off injured to be replaced by Cardle, with Thomson moving to the right, and with half time approaching the Pars seemed to switch off. McMillan was short with a pass-back, Dowie left it to Gallacher who only just got there, his clearance squirting sideways to safety, when it could have gone anywhere, and with more than 3 minutes injury time being conjured up from nowhere, firstly the visitors conceded a throw and then a corner. However, they had the lead at the break.
Half time: Jags 0 Pars 1
The second half was barely 20 seconds old when Morris was booked for a high challenge, despite winning the ball. This, added to the fact that the Pars spent the first 10 minutes of the half sitting off their opponents and the memory of the cup-tie at Inverness last season when a last minute equaliser was conceded to 10 man Caley Thistle, meant this tie was far from over.