The mother of all endings sees Pars rescue a crucial point
Declan McManus was replaced by Andy Ryan in the only change to last week's starting 11.
It was all about the ending - scenes that will live forever in the memory of all Pars fans and that rivalled great moments of the past, as a 95th minute equaliser in front of the large travelling support sent players and fans wild. Possibly the most crucial goal since Martin Hardie's winner against the Wee Team 7 years ago, maintaining a 5 point gap between ourselves and Inverness, who now have to win both their remaining games and hope that we also lose at home to Dumbarton in our 1 remaining fixture, next weekend.
With Tom Beadling still missing, the team saw only 1 change from last week, Andy Ryan in for Declan McManus. Jean Yves M'Voto kept his place in central defence.
Dunfermline began the better of the 2 teams and went ahead in the 13th minute when Andy Ryan collected a pass from Lewis Martin and drilled the ball home from 12 yards. Referee Stephen Finnie, a hapless figure and a questionable choice to take charge of yet another Pars game, brought Inverness back into the match when he awarded a free kick to Inverness in the 16th minute. It looked to me as though Lee Ashcroft had been fouled but Finnie gave the decision to the home side. From the resultant kick, Joe Chalmers' shot found the net via the post to make the score 1-1.
The goal rattled Dunfermline and gave Inverness fresh impetus. A couple of half chances went unfinished for the Highlanders and half time came with the Pars relieved to be on equal terms, after starting strongly but gradually losing shape as the half went on.
Inverness began the second half positively with Pars keeper Lee Robinson doing well to deny Liam Polworth. Three minutes into the half, Inverness took the lead when Nathan Austin ran through the centre of the Pars defence and put his team ahead with a good finish. It was disappointing how easily the striker was allowed to run through with the ball but credit has to be given for how he created the chance for himself and his clinical finish.
Allan Johnston then replaced Fraser Aird with Joe Cardle. A second substitution followed soon after, with Kallum Higginbotham withdrawn and Declan McManus joining Ryan and Clark up front. Dunfermline were not lacking effort but were fortunate not to lose a third goal, with Inverness wasting chances on the break. In fairness to the Pars team, these gaps only appeared due to the number of players thrown into attack. Inverness then began time wasting, with Brad McKay shouting at a ball boy to leave the ball and other home team players mysteriously developing injuries that lead to Finnie stopping play whenever Dunfermline had possession.
Clark had a couple of half chances to equalise and Ryan did not properly connect with a volley. It seemed as though the game was slipping away. Johnston then brought Callum Morris on, with the defender playing up front alongside M'Voto, McManus, Clark and Ryan as the game neared its end.
Then it happened.
With 95 minutes played, Cardle flighted in a free kick and through a ruck of players, Clark got his head to the ball. From behind the goal, there was no more glorious a sight than the ball heading towards to bottom corner of the net. Pandemonium followed. The fans piled down from the stand and joined the players in celebrating a goal that meant a precious point was won from what seemed like a certain defeat. The final whistle a minute later saw Inverness players fall to the turf, this time not faking injury but through the bitter disappointment of losing a goal in time that was added on due to their earlier time wasting.
No one can doubt the spirit in this squad of players. They kept pushing and would simply not accept defeat. Clark's goal - his 21st of the season - now joins those scored by players from the past in critical games and in the most dramatic of circumstances. What a day to be a Pars fan!
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