For the second consecutive game, 2 different Dunfermline teams took the field against pre-season opposition and just as in Saturday's game (at the same venue, Bayview) against East Fife, it was the youth team who were 'undefeated' during their period in play. There is nothing to be read into that, however. These games are just slightly glorified training exercises. Last night a back 3 defensive system was tried out with 2 of the new summer arrivals - Mark Durnan (captain for the night) and Danny Devine playing alongside Lewis Martin in central defence. Ryan Williamson and Jackson Longridge were wingbacks, while there was a 3 man central midfield of Kallum Higginbotham (right side), James Craigen (centre) and Louis Longridge (left). Up front, 17 year old Lewis McCann, who scored one of the Pars' goals in the win over East Fife, was partnered by Andy Ryan.
It was McCann who was the most impressive Pars player. Physically strong for his age, he did not look out of place alongside senior team mates and he also added another goal to his pre-season tally. He was denied another by a good save from the Raith keeper and also did well in his general play.
Raith took a 15th minute lead when Grant Gillespie lashed a shot beyond Pars keeper Cammy Gill. The 'home side', playing all their pre-season and Betfred Cup games in Methil while Stark's Park has an artificial pitch laid, also included ex-Pars Nat Wedderburn and Liam Buchanan.
Dunfermline equalised after 20 minutes. Big Nat lost possession and Louis Longridge took advantage, playing in Lewis McCann whose angled shot went beyond the Raith keeper (Robbie Thomson, son of ex-Raith and Pars keeper Scott Thomson). Dunfermline were playing some good football and James Craigen was unlucky to see his shot go narrowly wide after a long series of passes throughout the Pars team ended with the midfielder just missing out on a goal. Raith were barely in the Dunfermline half but went ahead, partly due to some very slack refereeing by Andrew Dallas. Referees often allow free kicks to be taken away from where play stopped but in this case, Raith took the kick from at least 25 yards (no exaggeration) from where an alleged foul took place. The ball was flighted into the penalty box and Mark Durnan was penalised for fouling Valentine. Cammy Gill made an excellent save from the penalty but despite pushing the ball wide, Raith's Ross Matthews was quick to react and scored from a tight angle to put Raith ahead.
With Lee Robinson, Lee Ashcroft, James Vincent, Tom Beadling, Joe Thomson and Callum Smith all out of contention tonight - although all those players except Ashcroft were in the stadium, with slight injuries that were not worth risking - the team will inevitably look much different in the weeks ahead. The 3 at the back system worked well although it was noticeable that with Higgy playing inside right, Ryan Williamson was less effective as an attacking force. Andy Ryan toiled up front and was often dropping back to get the ball.
The other scorer from Saturday, Matty Todd, came on at half time and looked lively in midfield. He was joined by his team mates from the Pars youth squad after an hour, together with a new keeper and a trialist striker (both players' identities unknown). There were no further goals but it was a good chance to see the young players who will make up much of our reserve team this season. Captained for the final 30 minutes by Stuart Morrison, who has also filled out physically and looks ready to compete for a first team place, players such as McCann and Todd will also be contenders for at least a place in match day squads alongside their senior colleagues in the months ahead.
Pars starting line-up: