Quick fire Dunfermline once again settled a game inside the first half and ran out comfortable winners of the match and Betfred Cup Group H. Lowland League opponents East Kilbride knew a win would be required for them to take over the top spot from the Pars but after an early Kevin Nisbet goal, there was little chance of anything but a Dunfermline victory. Goals have been a feature of the Pars' group games - 13 scored, 3 conceded - while East Kilbride's progress was altogether different: in their 3 games prior to yesterday, their games had contained just 2 goals - one for, one against.
Stevie Crawford made 2 changes to the team that lost to Edinburgh City last weekend: fit-again centre half Euan Murray replaced Stuart Morrison, and Kyle Turner took Andy Ryan's place up front. Just as in the last home game against Albion Rovers, the team did not give the opposition any time to settle into the game. Only 3 minutes were on the clock when Kevin Nisbet turned in a Ryan Dow pass to make it 1-0.
Four minutes later, winger Josh Coley scored his first Pars goal - and his first in senior football - when he shot home after a good run and pass from Nisbet. The home crowd, restricted to the main stand, could now settle back and enjoy the attacking football that followed. The goal of the game came after 16 minutes: several passes ended with Lewis Martin, overlapping from left-back, shooting; his shot came back out to Tom Beadling whose thunderous strike from 20 yards gave East Kilbride keeper Alan Martin no chance.
Paul Paton then almost broke the crossbar with a long range shot and there were further efforts from Kyle Turner and Ryan Dow. Half time came with Dunfermline 3-0 up and cruising into the next round of the cup.
Five minutes into the second half, Nisbet got his second - and his fifth of the season - when he ran through from midfield and placed the ball into the corner of the net from the edge of the penalty box. In another repeat of the Albion Rovers game - when Kyle Turner's 53rd minute goal ended the scoring - so too did Nisbet's, although the team continued to dominate and should have added to their tally. Substitute Andy Ryan had 2 attempts. During his second effort he could have played in fellow substitutes Paul Allan or Lewis McCann for a tap-in, but decided to shoot, unsuccessfully. Josh Coley then saw the East Kilbride keeper pull of a great reaction save that turned the ball onto the post and away from goal. We even had time for a very rare run down the wing from Lee Ashcroft.
This was as comfortable a win as we could have hoped for . Even allowing for their lower league status, it is worth remembering that East Kilbride drew with St Mirren and defeated the only team to take points from us, Edinburgh City, so there was potential for a tricky game. The early goals removed any doubt as to the outcome of the game and the group.
Pars Review Man of the Match: Tom Beadling
Back down to earth with a bump - reality check - rude awakening; choose the cliche of your liking to apply to yesterday's defeat at Edinburgh City. After 2 victories and 9 goals scored in the earlier Betfred Cup group games, Dunfermline were strong favourites to record another win over opposition from 2 divisions below. What transpired instead was a performance that fell well below the standards set in those opening games and a first defeat for Stevie Crawford's revamped team.
The manager made 2 changes from the midweek win over Albion Rovers, reverting back to the team that started last weekend against St Mirren - Josh Coley and Andy Ryan replacing Kyle Turner and Lewis McCann. Turner and McCann came on for Coley and an injured Ryan in the second half, just as they did in Paisley, with Gabby McGill also making his third appearance from the bench.
There is little to actually report on from yesterday's match. Clear goalscoring opportunities were rare, and although Edinburgh passed the ball well - compared to the long ball used more by Dunfermline - it was the Pars who had the better chances to score: Tom Beadling's first half header went wide, the midfielder directing the ball in the direction he was looking at instead of at the goal; in the second half, subs Turner and McCann were unlucky not to find the net with shots that were saved by Edinburgh keeper Calum Antell. McCann, in particular, was unfortunate as the keeper's ''save'' saw the ball pass through his gloves but take enough of a touch to rise and hit the bar. Late in the game, Beadling's shot hit Edinburgh defender Liam Henderson on the arm when the player was laying on the pitch. No penalty, according to referee Grant Irvine.
Then, with 3 minutes remaining, the home side scored. Lee Ashcroft's clearance fell to Danny Handling whose shot found the far corner of Ryan Scully's net.
As I said in the match preview for this game, the team will inevitably have ups and downs during the season. Few expected yesterday to be the first setback but with the Betfred Cup being an extension of pre-season, it is better to identify problems now that when the League campaign starts. The team can play much better than this, with time and patience allowed. We are still top of our Betfred group and have a home game next week against East Kilbride to secure a win that will put us through to the knock-out stage of the competition.
There is certainly no need for an over-reaction to yesterday's defeat.
A six goal haul to bring Dunfermline's Betfred Cup scoring total to 9 in 2 games, scored by 6 different players. This was as emphatic a victory as the scoreline suggests. The team now top Group H and with games against Edinburgh City and East Kilbride to come, are in a great position to qualify for the last 16 of the competition.
Manager Stevie Crawford made 2 changes to the team that started against St Mirren on Sunday - Kyle Turner and Lewis McCann replacing Andy Ryan and Josh Coley. This competition is an extension of pre-season and so squad rotation is very much part of the process with games coming in quick succession. The changes were a success, with Turner in particular having an excellent game.
The first goal came after 3 minutes and was all done to the skill and directness of Kyle Turner. Collecting the ball in the inside right position, he ran through the centre of the visitors' defence before placing the ball firmly into the corner of the net. What a player this boy is: not only for his goals but his general play was a joy to watch and we could really be on the verge of having someone very special on our hands. I have not felt as excited about a player since the Calderwood era - Turner is a rare talent.
Another summer signing, Kevin Nisbet, enjoyed a memorable evening, bagging a hat trick in his first competitive game at East End Park for the club. His first and Dunfermline's second came from a header after a pin point cross from Ryan Dow on the right. Nisbet's second was another header, this time from a Lewis Martin cross from the left. 3-0 after 25 minutes and the game was effectively over, although Ryan Scully had to come out and block a shot from Euan East when Dunfermline were 2-0 up. That was Rovers' best chance of the game; their only other noteworthy efforts were 2 long range second hand strikes in the second half - the first by Guiliano Morena that brought off a fine save from Scully, and another good strike from distance from Aron Lynas that took a slight deflection and narrowly missed Scully's goal.
Right back Aaron Comrie found himself in the centre forward position in the 40th minute and was perfectly placed to score from another Dow cross. Five minutes later, Nisbet completed his hat trick when he got to a Paul Paton through ball before outrushing Rovers keeper Ryan Goodfellow. Unfortunately ex-Par Goodfellow was injured in the incident and remained on the pitch to receive treatment during most of the half time break. He was stretchered off with an oxygen mask on but was able to give thumbs up signs to the crowd - here's to a speedy recovery, Ryan.
The second half did not bring the same flurry of goals but the one goal that was scored was Turner at his best: from Dow's pass, the young attacker glided through the Rovers defence and shot past substitute keeper Christopher Smith.
New signing Josh Edwards was one of 3 Pars substitutes brought on during the second period, and could have scored with almost his first touch but sent the ball wide from close range. The team continued to attack but were unable to add to the 6 goal tally.
There was a disappointing end to the game when Rovers substitute Smart Osadolor cynically took out Turner on the half way line. A red card could have followed but the player was given a yellow while Turner was being attended to by medical staff. The Pars player looked dazed when he eventually was able to stand, and the referee sounded the final whistle seconds later. Turner needs to have better protection from this type of thuggery.
A classic example of a game of two halves: Dunfermline's new-look side left Paisley with 3 Betfred Cup group points after withstanding a second half comeback from a St Mirren team that looked dead and buried at the interval.
The Pars lineup was the same as started against Hibs in the final first team pre-season friendly last weekend, with the exception of Stuart Morrison replacing injured centre half Euan Murray. Morrison, a central defender for most of his young career, has played in midfield for the first team and reserves at the end of last season and this pre-season, with Stevie Crawford and Greg Shields both commenting that they see midfield as the 20 year old's position. So it was something of a surprise that Morrison, and not substitute Tom Lang, who was selected alongside Lee Ashcroft. It proved to be a good decision as Morrison was solid at the back and helped the team to a hard fought win.
Paul Paton, who this week took over from Lee Ashcroft as club captain, was the only Pars player over the age of 30 - indeed, the next oldest player was 27 year old Ryan Dow, with the bulk of the team aged 20 or 21 and teenagers coming off the bench later in the game.
St Mirren lined up with few new signings but with the most of their Premiership regulars from last season. Lack of options up front was highlighted as an issue by their new manager Jim Goodwin but such was the Pars' command of the opening 45 minutes, it would scarcely have mattered who featured in attack for Goodwin's team. That would change as the game progressed but from the outset Dunfermline took control of the game, and opened the scoring after 19 minutes when Ryan Dow finished off a move inside the right side of the penalty box.
Five minutes later, the Pars made it 2-0. Kevin Nisbet played a good ball to Andy Ryan, who went past two Saints players and expertly put the ball beyond Vaclav Hladky in the Saints goal. The Pars travelling support greeted the goal with a mixture of joy and almost disbelief that the team were 2 goals ahead of their Premiership opponents.
Ryan had a chance to make it 3-0 in the 39th minute but shot over the bar. The third goal came in a minute later - Ryan's shot hit the post and Tom Beadling fired home the rebound. Half time: St Mirren 0, Pars 3.
The second half saw St Mirren have much more possession, with Dunfermline playing deeper, either by design or through the efforts of the home side. Niggly fouls were given by overly-fussy referee Steven MacLean and Dunfermline could not find the flowing football that they had shown earlier in the game. Despite this, the pair of St Mirren goals that came within 90 seconds of each other were both avoidable - one a little unlucky and the other the result of an error. After 63 minutes, Cody Cooke's shot deflected off Tom Beadling and into the net; then Saints got a second soon after when Ryan Scully fumbled a cross and the ball was turned into the net by Danny Mullen. With 25 minutes - plus added on time after Stuart Morrison required treatment for a head knock - still to play, it seemed that St Mirren now had the impetus, with the Pars' comfortable halftime lead now reduced to a single goal.
Dunfermline replaced Nisbet, Ryan and Dow with Gabby McGill, Kyle Turner and Lewis McCann, and it was from a McGill pass that Josh Coley should have made it 4-2 but his shot from 10 yards was straight at Hladky. This was a rare second half attack and a goal at that point would have taken a lot of pressure off a Dunfermline team who were clinging on to their one goal advantage.
St Mirren continued to have more of the ball but rarely tested Scully. A corner kick deep into injury time was cleared and the sound of MacLean's whistle to bring the game to an end was followed by celebrations from a relieved Pars support.
To start the Betfred Cup group with a win at the home of the group favourites was very pleasing. While it was concerning to drop out of the game so alarmingly in the second half, overall the team showed resilience under pressure and their first half performance was more than deserving of the 3 points.
Pars Review Man of the Match: Tom Beadling
Pars starting 11:
An encouraging opening 45 minutes followed by an experimental second half ended in Dunfermline losing out to Hibs in East End Park's only pre-season friendly of 2019/20, with much to take - and learn - from the game, which is the true goal of all warm-up matches.
Manager Stevie Crawford sent out what is arguably his strongest available starting 11, in a 4-4-2 formation. With options available, the manager selected Aaron Comrie at rightback, and Euan Murray to partner captain Lee Ashcroft in central defence. Wingers Ryan Dow and Josh Coley interchanged during the game, while the 2 central midfield slots were taken by Paul Paton and Tom Beadling. The other positions were filled by Ryan Scully, Lewis Martin, Andy Ryan and Kevin Nisbet.
The Pars started well, pressing their Premiership opponents who were backed by a big travelling support that almost filled the away stand. It was at that end of the ground that Euan Murray headed home an Andy Ryan corner to put Dunfermline 1-0 ahead, with 4 minutes gone. Hibs then came into the game with efforts from Stevie Mallan and Darren McGregor but the Pars almost made it 2-0 after Ryan's shot was saved and Nisbet was unable to get to the rebound in time. Nisbet almost scored himself halfway through the first half but saw his shot deflected wide.
At the other end, Lee Ashcroft headed away a dangerous Martin Boyle cross, and Ryan Scully made a good reaction save from Joe Newell. Scully was a strong contender for man of the match with 3 excellent saves during the match.
Andy Ryan was involved heavily in most Pars' attacks and from one good run forward he saw the chance to shoot but his shot unfortunately went wide of Chris Maxwell's goal.
Just as Dunfermline had scored early in the first half, so too did the vistors in the second period. Once again, a corner at the Cowdenbeath end was converted - from Mallan's kick, Hibs sub Adam Jackson connected perfectly to score with an overhead kick in the 48th minute.
The game then lost part of its rhythm when both teams made a series of substitutions. By the end of the game, Dunfermline had replaced all 11 starters, while Hibs also made changes, with only goalkeeper Maxwell and midfielder Mallan completing the whole 90 minutes. While there were several promising players on the Pars bench, and with no argument to giving all of them game time, it was clear that when utilised as a group rather than one or two being filtered into what might be regarded as our strongest team, their lack of experience and lack of physicality was a big factor. The Pars subs were all 22 years old or younger - mostly teenagers - and while none were individually disappointing, they were, not surprisingly, less equipped to cope as a group. This is the approach the management team have taken for the coming season and although patience will be required at times, there is enough promise in the squad to suggest a bright future for many of these players, given time.
Daryl Horgan's penalty in the 72nd minute and Florian Kamberi's header 5 minutes later gave the Edinburgh side a 3-1 win. Pars sub Gabby McGill came closest to getting on the scoresheet for Dunfermline after 73 minutes when his well placed shot was saved by Maxwell. Scully, meanwhile, had to be alert to save a Shaw shot after an error from Ashcroft. The Pars captain had an uncomfortable afternoon - also conceding the Hibs penalty. His first half defensive partner, Euan Murray, had a very good game and already looks to be a very good signing.
With the first team pre-season friendly schedule now complete, we can look ahead to the first competitive game of the season, next Sunday in Paisley in the Betfred Cup.
Archives (current site)