Pars draw a blank against unadventurous opposition
Jason Talbot returned to the squad after suspension and Jean Yves M'Voto was fit again after missing Tuesday's Inverness game through suspension. Both players were named among the substitutes, with midweek squad members Andy Ryan and Scott Lochhead out of the 18.
After Tuesday's 1-0 win over Inverness, a win over fourth-placed Morton would have cut the gap between us and our visitors to a single point, with a game in hand against Brechin due to be played in 3 days. Unfortunately, a second consecutive win could not be achieved and the remarkably unambitious Greenock side left with a point that pleased their manager Jim Duffy. Despite defeating Dunfermline 3 times in League and Cup games this season, Morton seemingly had no great desire to cement their top 4 place with a win today. Dunfermline, undoubtedly pressing for a winner, were unable to get the one goal that would surely have won the game.
The game was played in freezing cold wind with occasional snow flurries. The atmosphere in the stadium was as cold as the weather, with the home fans sitting passively throughout. There was no chorus of booing at any point, but the tepid response from the stands tells its own story.
The first half was uneventful. Morton's only clear chance of the entire game came after 9 minutes when Jack Iredale shot wide from a good position. For Dunfermline, Nicky Clark had an early effort saved by Derek Gaston, while later in the half Declan McManus shot into the side netting.
McManus was involved again in the 59th minute when he broke down the right. His pass found Clark but the striker could not capitalise on the opening, with the ball then reaching James Craigen and eventually cleared. This was the type of chance that should have ended in a goal - but while Dunfermline are now hard to score against, they are also having problems finding the net themselves, lacking a clinical edge.
There was an element of bad luck for the Pars when Tom Beadling hit the bar and then sub Dan Armstrong saw his shot strike the post. McManus had another chance when Gaston saved a Kallum Higginbotham shot and when the ball fell to McManus, he could not get a clean shot on goal, scuffing his effort, and the chance was lost.
Allan Johnston, who had no recognised striker on the bench, substituted Clark and put winger Armstrong up front alongside McManus. Fraser Aird was also given game time in place of the ineffective Craigen.
Apathy is taking a hold on the dwindling Pars support, with goals scarce and little to get enthused about. There is still hope of a play-off place and with greater creativity and a more ruthless approach in front of goal, the team may yet achieve a top 4 finish, especially if the opposition are as unambitious as Morton.