A poor game ends goalless with neither team impressing
Same starting 11 as in the previous game v Livi. Kallum Higginbotham and Lewis Martin returned to the squad with Dean Shiels and Fraser Aird dropping out.
MINUTES THAT MATTERED
8' Queen's keeper Jack Leighfield tipped over a 30 yard shot from Declan McManus
25' Andy Ryan saw his header from a McManus cross narrowly miss the goal
47' Lee Robinson turned Landon Dykes' shot round the post
50' Queens' Connor Murray sent a shot high over from inside the box
51' Robinson fumbled a cross but the Pars defence cleared the ball upfield
75' Pars sub Kallum Higginbotham had a chance from a James Craigen corner but could not finish
78' McManus was pulled down by Kyle Jacobs as he ran through on goal but referee Don Robertson decided to issue a yellow rather than a red card to the Queens player
80' Leighfield saved a Craigen free kick with his legs
Had this been a pre-season friendly, the lack of urgency shown by both sides might have been understandable. However, with a chance of a top 4 promotion play-off place still possible for both clubs, neither showed nearly enough desire, skill or passion required in a League match at this time of the season, or indeed any point of the season.
The team lined up in the same 4-3-1-2 formation that drew 0-0 at Livingston in the previous game. The new midfield 3 of James Vincent, Tom Beadling and James Craigen were less effective in this game, often anonymous and although providing a better shield to the back 4 than the former central midfield pairing of Nat Wedderburn and Dean Shiels in a 4-4-2, there was a noticable lack of creativity. It wasn't until Kallum Higginbotham was introduced, after 67 minutes, that the team had any creative spark, and also when Joe Cardle was given 4 minutes at the end. The option of a third sub was not taken up.
The football on display was dire. It is very difficult to be positive about the game, not just as a Dunfermline fan but also as a football fan. Lumps up the park, miscontrolling, passes going astray. The only time the game lit up was when referee Don Robertson decided against an obvious red card for Kyle Jacobs when he pulled down Declan McManus as the Pars striker ran through on goal.
Two clean sheets in a row in the past two away games shows that we have improved defensively but there was little in the way of attacking threat to win the game. Pars keeper Lee Robinson will be pleased with his shut out but was still error-prone. He also, strangely, decided to head away a punt up the park from Queens when it reached him inside his penalty box, with no Queens player next to him, when a simple catch was possible.
Match photo gallery will be posted later today.
All photos by Pars Review.
A young Pars team defeated Edusport Academy 3-1 in yesterday's friendly match played at Kelty's New Central Park. Most of the Dunfermline squad was made up of Fife Elite under 16s and 17s, plus first team squad members Callum Smith, Conner Duthie, Brandon Luke, Paul Allen and Stuart Morrison. Smith and Morrison were both eligible to play in this game despite being on development loans at Alloa and Edinburgh City.
It was Smith who opened the scoring (captured in photo below) before the opposition equalised when a flighted free kick evaded everyone and found its way into the net.
The second and third Pars goals came from Fife Elite players. Apologies for not knowing the name of the scorer of the second goal. The third goal was scored by Owen Andrew.
Several of the Fife Elite players looked promising and they will have gained good experience playing alongside the likes of Smith and Duthie. A mention too for Matthew Todd (number 8 in photo below), who looked good in midfield.
Match photos (all by Pars Review):
Pars fail to capitalise against 10 man Livi
New faces and a new formation (4-3-1-2) this week, with Lee Ashcroft replacing Callum Morris in defence. A midfield 3, with James Vincent brought in to make his debut alongside James Craigen and Tom Beadling, with Nat Wedderburn and Joe Cardle dropping to the bench. Andy Ryan made his first start in months up front alongside Declan McManus, with Nicky Clark playing behind the 2 strikers.
MINUTES THAT MATTERED
13' Declan McManus shot wide from inside the box
27' Let-off for Dunfermline when Livi broke up the Pars' right. Ryan Hardie failed to square the ball accurately to team mate Steven Boyd and a great chance to score was lost
29' After the ball had played in and around the Livi penalty box, Nicky Clark's shot hit the post
45' A push on Andy Ryan in the box did not interest referee Greg Aitken
49' McManus' effort was saved and when the ball fell to Ryan his overhead kick went high over
55' Jean Yves M'Voto's sclaffed clearance spun towards his goal but keeper Lee Robinson was alert and saved an embarrassing own goal
64' Ryan slipped at a crucial moment when McManus' cross seemed set to give him a chance to score
69' Livi's Jordan Thompson was red carded for a high and dangerous lunge at Ryan
85-90' Tom Beadling, Declan McManus and Nicky Clark all had efforts blocked or placed narrowly wide as Dunfermline tried to find a late winner
An improvement over recent performances and refreshing to see an entirely new midfield that improved as the game went on. Old failings persist, however, as ultimately this was another game that did not end in victory, this time against a team that were down to 10 men and who gave up all attempts at attack in the final 20 minutes. A greater degree of adventure from the manager was required to get the one goal that would have won the game.
In defence, Lee Ashcroft was a steadying influence on his return to the starting 11. Big Jock M'Voto was booked in the first half for an over-zealous challenge in the air, and apart from one sliced backwards clearance that could have spun into his own net, did well and won almost every header. Fullbacks Ryan Williamson and Jason Talbot had space to attack up the wings, with this being a wingless Pars team. Talbot did his defensive duties without offering much going forward, while the obviously more attack minded Williamson played in a few dreadful crosses in the second half and then, disappointingly, decided against any further charges up the wing in the final 10 minutes, seemingly losing confidence or desire, at one point passing the ball back to M'Voto when given time and space to attack.
The midfield was a huge improvement and upgrade on what we have endured for much of this season. Athleticism, mobility and skill all combined, with James Vincent enjoying a very good second half, growing into the game on his Pars debut, and looking very much the part.
Nicky Clark's role behind the front 2 of Ryan and McManus was a partial success. Clark, named captain due to Morris losing his place, once again upped his game when given the armband, working hard, tracking back, and also coming closest to scoring with a first half effort. The front pair also put in a lot of effort for little reward. Ryan did not have the best of games but has to be given more than one chance to prove his worth after spending months on the bench with limited game time as a late substitute.
Allan Johnston was heavily criticised by fans last week for not using any substitutes. Today he gave Dan Armstrong a chance with mixed results. The packed Livi defence made it difficult for Armstrong and he was often crowded out when in possession.
Joe Cardle or Fraser Aird might have been other good options to throw at the home defence for the final part of the game but aside from that, I felt that we should have put M'Voto up front and left 3 at the back which would have been more than sufficient, given that Livi ended the game without their first choice strikers, both subbed, and playing former Pars midfielder Scott Robinson alone up front.
In itself, this game gave some encouragement mixed with all-too-familiar frustrations. We looked to have better players than Livi but the reality is that they remain 6 points ahead of us and with a game in hand.
All photos and edit by Pars Review.
Match photo gallery will be posted tomorrow.
Pars lose late at Cappielow in repeat of early season defeat
Michael Paton, Dean Shiels and Kallum Higginbotham dropped out of the starting 11 with only Paton still in the squad. Shiels and Higginbotham were ill during the week. New signing Tom Beadling started while other new recruits Daniel Armstrong and James Vincent made the bench.
MINUTES THAT MATTERED
10' Pars keeper Lee Robinson saved Gary Oliver's shot.
23' GOAL Tom Beadling connected with Jason Talbot's cross to shoot past Morton keeper Derek Gaston.
33' Callum Morris lost possession when trying to shepherd the ball out of play. Morton's Michael Tiffoney played the ball to team mate Michael Tidser whose cross was missed by the home team's forwards.
37' GOAL Morris conceded a free kick from which Gary Harkins found Gary Oliver, who touched the ball to Tidser, who struck the ball past Robinson.
40' A controversial moment when Nicky Clark seemed to put the Pars back in the lead but saw the goal disallowed for being offside, which seemed to be an incorrect call by referee Gavin Duncan.
43' Tiffoney's shot from outside the box was saved by Robinson.
44' Andy Murdoch's header for Morton went narrowly wide.
48' Clark's header from a James Craigen cross was saved on the line.
55' Clark, back defending after a Morton corner kick, saved a Morton goal when he cleared a Tiffoney effort on the line.
61' Beadling headed a Craigen cross wide.
75' Gaston saved well from Clark's header.
90' GOAL Calamitous defending by Dunfermline saw Robinson and Morris collide and let in Bob McHugh, who squared the ball for Oliver to score the winner.
As was the case at Dumbarton in January, it is the social media guy of Pars Review writing this report today. Hope you enjoy a different perspective on things this week!
Going into this game, the importance of securing 3 points was clear in the battle for a top 4 place with Morton and ourselves only separated by 2 points. The first half began with both teams creating opportunities but lacking that killer instinct in front of goal. It’s been well documented that we require not only creativity, but also more goals from midfield this season. Therefore, the introduction of 3 midfielders in the January window was a pleasing aspect for the fans. Tom Beadling was the 3rd midfielder brought in, coming from Sunderland on a loan deal until the end of the season. His opening goal was exactly what we have missed all season from that area of the pitch. The initial cross from Jason Talbot rebounded in the 18 yard box and Beadling was there to pounce on the loose ball to put the Pars 1-0 ahead. He celebrated in front of the travelling support showing great delight in scoring on his Dunfermline debut.
The home side then came into the game more, with Gary Harkins pivotal in midfield once again when playing us. It would be his free-kick that would eventually bring the game back to level pegging when he delivered a ball that fell to the edge of the box where Morton’s Michael Tidser was there to smash home the equaliser. The final piece of action in the first half would be a disallowed goal for Dunfermline - Nicky Clark finishing off the move with an overhead kick of sorts, but ruled out when the linesman flagged for offside on the striker - in my opinion it looked onside, a poor call from the linesman who certainly got an earful from the Pars support!
The team came out for the second half in buoyant mood and created numerous chances in the first 15 minutes of the half. One or two fell Clark’s way but to no avail, coming closest with an effort that was tipped away from goal by Morton keeper Derek Gaston. There’s no doubt we had our chances and if we’d have taken even one of them at that point in the game the outcome could have been much different. However, failure to pick up Morton’s main man (Gary Harkins) yet again and then to not put on any subs throughout the full 90 minutes to change things up is frustrating to say the least. We’ve made these signings as we believe they offer more quality than what we had, and yes they’ve only just arrived and need time to settle in, but we gave Beadling the chance from the start today and he had a positive impact on the game and offered that bit of freshness we’ve been lacking in recent weeks. To not give 20 minutes to either Armstrong, Vincent or even Andy Ryan is baffling to me and I simply don’t understand why those options weren’t utilised.
The Morton winner was a calamity of errors. The ball was played forward in the final minute. There was confusion and miscommunication between both Robinson and Morris which let Bob McHugh in around them. McHugh squared it to Gary Oliver who had the simple task of hitting it anywhere towards goal that the back-tracking M’Voto wasn’t, and he did just so, winning the points for Morton with pretty much the last kick of the game.
Yet again the Pars were left wanting from a side sitting above 7th in the league at kick off. The stat that I read a few weeks ago about only having won a single game against any team sitting above 7th since mid September is extremely poor and shows that we need to improve drastically if we are to make the play-offs come May.
Thanks to Ben for his report after I had to miss the game due to work commitments.
As always, Ben took the photos and created the edited images for this article.