The type of away victory that was characteristic of Dunfermline sides through the years and reproduced to pleasing effect by the current squad, who have now developed a harder edge to match their ability on the ball. The Pars side, coached actively on the sidelines by the new management team, were able to grind out a win against a higher placed team, in conditions that were not conducive to free-flowing football.
The team was announced with no changes from last week's win against Inverness but shortly before kick-off, Jackson Longridge was withdrawn through injury. Ryan Williamson came into the team at rightback, with James Craigen moving to take over Longridge's slot at leftback. Robbie Muirhead was added to the subs bench.
The formation was the same diamond as last week but with Tom Beadling in the defensive midfield role, and James Vincent at the attacking tip of the midfield diamond. Last week it was Vincent in the defensive role - which he is more suited to - and Joe Thomson as the attacking midfielder. The lineup below shows how Stevie Crawford moved certain players around in the middle of the pitch this week. For part of the game, Ryan Blair and Joe Thomson swapped positions on the right and left.
Starting 11 and formation:
The first half was not one for the football purist, with the weather influencing the standard of play. Anyone who ventured from the relative comfort of the coo shed to the hot dog stand on the terracing would have felt the force of the wind, which was against the Pars in the opening 45 minutes. Ayr United had more of the ball and there were half chances for Lawrence Shankland and the Moff. The best chance, and best save, of the first half was a close range effort from Ayr's Andy Murdoch which Ryan Scully did well to block.
The second half saw the weather improve slightly and Dunfermline enjoy more of the ball. The team pressed the Ayr side at every opportunity and almost took the lead when Bruce Thomson netted, denied by the referee's whistle as James Craigen's cross to Anderson was adjudged, correctly, to have been from behind the goal line.
Aidan Connolly, who had begun the game alongside Anderson and was then moved to a number 10 role in the second half, was unlucky not to give Dunfermline the lead when in a move similar to that which denied Ayr's Murdoch in the first half, saw his shot instinctively saved by Ayr keeper Ross Doohan.
Connolly was replaced by Louis Longridge after 66 minutes and 5 minutes later, the Pars substitute scored the game's only goal. Ryan Williamson overlapped to great effect and his cross was handled by Michael Rose. A definite penalty and Longridge stepped up to send Doohan the wrong way, the ball nestling in the right corner.
The team managed the remainder of the game with encouraging composure. The only worrying moment came when Ayr's Aaron Muirhead sent a header wide with 5 minutes remaining.
A well-earned win and the Pars support left the ground, itself a reminder of a different era, singing the name of the head coach, just like the old days.
Ryan Scully 8 A very important first half save and was assured throughout, recording his third shut out in 4 games since moving from Morton.
Ryan Williamson 7 A confidence player. Tentative at times but showed what he is capable of with a superb run and cross that lead to the penalty award.
Danny Devine 9 The centre half's transformation continued with a no-nonsense performance yesterday. Appears to be more vocal and is developing into a good leader.
Lee Ashcroft 8 Apart from one sliced clearance that thankfully missed his own net, the captain's resurgence in form continued alongside his defensive partner.
James Craigen 7.5 From makeshift rightback to makeshift leftback after Jackson Longridge's late withdrawal: the ultimate team player and a manager's dream.
Tom Beadling 7 Broke up play well in the DM role, quietly effective.
Joe Thomson 7 Harried the opposition and tried to drive the team forward, especially in the second half.
Ryan Blair 7 Continued his good start with the club. Tidy and hard working.
James Vincent 6.5 Played in the forward end of the diamond but not a natural attacker, turning back too often. Better employed in as a defensive midfielder.
Aidan Connolly 7 Denied a goal by Doohan's reflexes. Made a nuisance of himself and did the job asked of him.
Bruce Anderson 7 One half chance in the first half, one disallowed goal in the second (scored after the whistle was blown). Not an easy shift for the young striker but showed plenty of effort before being booked for diving and then substituted.
Louis Longridge 7 Scored the penalty with ease. Had a chance to send Blair through on goal but delayed the pass and the opportunity was lost.
Myles Hippolyte 6 On for the final 8 minutes. Had one nice turn which was not matched by the shot that followed. A good outlet up front as the team saw the game out.
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