Job done as a Nicky Clark hat trick gives Pars 3 points and closes gap on top 4
For the second midweek game in a row, Ben steps in to write the match report.
No changes to the starting 11. One change on the bench: fit-again Andy Ryan replaced Dean Shiels.
A good overall performance from the Pars against a hard-working Brechin side facing inevitable relegation and without a win in 28 League games this season. After struggling to score goals in recent games, we quickly established a 2 goal lead with goals from Nicky Clark in the 8th and 9th minutes. Both were well-taken finishes. Clark then completed his hat trick, and the scoring, after 54 minutes.
The Pars were dominant in both halves, keeping possession and winning their fair share of second balls. The crowd at Brechin are very close to the pitch and there was good banter with home goalkeeper Graeme Smith. Glebe Park can have the feel of being in a bowling club, and being so close to the players, it was good to hear the commanding and motivational shouts from Dunfermline players to team mates to keep their standards up and giving praise and encouragement.
With his 3 goal haul Nicky Clark has now equalled his goals tally of 16 from last season, with 4 of those goals coming against Brechin. Much has been made of Clark's record against part time teams (14 of his 16 goals have been against part time opposition) but as a penalty box poacher, he relies on service, which comes more regularly against so-called "lesser" opposition. If he was given the same opportunities to score against full-time teams, the chances are he would have even more than his current total for the season.
Although there was a clear expectation of a Pars victory last night, credit has to be given for the professional way the players went about achieving the win. Dundee United and Livingston have both drawn games at Brechin this season, while Morton and St Mirren won by single goal margins. We have now played Brechin away twice and won both games 3-0.
As a whole though there were good performances throughout but I’d say the standouts were Tom Beadling - another solid midfield performance; Lee Ashcroft - a dominating and vocal defensive display; Lee Robinson - some good saves when tested; and Nicky Clark - 3 well-taken goals, showing what he can do when given the opportunity to score.
With the game won, Allan Johnston brought on Dan Armstrong and Andy Ryan for Nicky Clark and Declan McManus after 64 minutes, and Fraser Aird for James Vincent 8 minutes later. Dunfermline continued to attack but couldn't add a further goal. Ex-Par Finn Graham came close to scoring a fine goal for Brechin, skillfully working his way past a group of Pars players before shooting wide.
Now we look ahead to Saturday when we visit Tannadice, another massive game in the play-off race, especially with Queen of the South’s win over Dundee United last night. With St Mirren and Livingston secure in the top 4, there’s now up to 4 other teams who could enter, exit or miss out of the play-offs and there’s absolutely no reason why we can't achieve a top 4 place if we keep our standards up over the next month or so.