An encouraging opening 45 minutes followed by an experimental second half ended in Dunfermline losing out to Hibs in East End Park's only pre-season friendly of 2019/20, with much to take - and learn - from the game, which is the true goal of all warm-up matches.
Manager Stevie Crawford sent out what is arguably his strongest available starting 11, in a 4-4-2 formation. With options available, the manager selected Aaron Comrie at rightback, and Euan Murray to partner captain Lee Ashcroft in central defence. Wingers Ryan Dow and Josh Coley interchanged during the game, while the 2 central midfield slots were taken by Paul Paton and Tom Beadling. The other positions were filled by Ryan Scully, Lewis Martin, Andy Ryan and Kevin Nisbet.
The Pars started well, pressing their Premiership opponents who were backed by a big travelling support that almost filled the away stand. It was at that end of the ground that Euan Murray headed home an Andy Ryan corner to put Dunfermline 1-0 ahead, with 4 minutes gone. Hibs then came into the game with efforts from Stevie Mallan and Darren McGregor but the Pars almost made it 2-0 after Ryan's shot was saved and Nisbet was unable to get to the rebound in time. Nisbet almost scored himself halfway through the first half but saw his shot deflected wide.
At the other end, Lee Ashcroft headed away a dangerous Martin Boyle cross, and Ryan Scully made a good reaction save from Joe Newell. Scully was a strong contender for man of the match with 3 excellent saves during the match.
Andy Ryan was involved heavily in most Pars' attacks and from one good run forward he saw the chance to shoot but his shot unfortunately went wide of Chris Maxwell's goal.
Just as Dunfermline had scored early in the first half, so too did the vistors in the second period. Once again, a corner at the Cowdenbeath end was converted - from Mallan's kick, Hibs sub Adam Jackson connected perfectly to score with an overhead kick in the 48th minute.
The game then lost part of its rhythm when both teams made a series of substitutions. By the end of the game, Dunfermline had replaced all 11 starters, while Hibs also made changes, with only goalkeeper Maxwell and midfielder Mallan completing the whole 90 minutes. While there were several promising players on the Pars bench, and with no argument to giving all of them game time, it was clear that when utilised as a group rather than one or two being filtered into what might be regarded as our strongest team, their lack of experience and lack of physicality was a big factor. The Pars subs were all 22 years old or younger - mostly teenagers - and while none were individually disappointing, they were, not surprisingly, less equipped to cope as a group. This is the approach the management team have taken for the coming season and although patience will be required at times, there is enough promise in the squad to suggest a bright future for many of these players, given time.
Daryl Horgan's penalty in the 72nd minute and Florian Kamberi's header 5 minutes later gave the Edinburgh side a 3-1 win. Pars sub Gabby McGill came closest to getting on the scoresheet for Dunfermline after 73 minutes when his well placed shot was saved by Maxwell. Scully, meanwhile, had to be alert to save a Shaw shot after an error from Ashcroft. The Pars captain had an uncomfortable afternoon - also conceding the Hibs penalty. His first half defensive partner, Euan Murray, had a very good game and already looks to be a very good signing.
With the first team pre-season friendly schedule now complete, we can look ahead to the first competitive game of the season, next Sunday in Paisley in the Betfred Cup.