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.