If only football matches lasted 45 minutes - or 44. For the fifth time in 6 games this season, Dunfermline went into the break ahead but were unable, for the fourth game out of those 6, to add any goals in the second half. Last week, the game against Dundee turned in the 44th minute with the award of a penalty to the opposition, resulting in a 2-0 lead being reduced to 2-1 and the pendulum swinging in favour of Dundee for most of the remainder of the game. Yesterday, with Dunfermline leading 1-0, a Queens' header crashed off the bar in the final minute of the opening period. An escape, but once again a sign of what was to follow.
Stevie Crawford made 2 changes to his starting 11: Kyle Turner, suspended last week, came in on the left wing for Josh Coley, while Andy Ryan replaced Lewis McCann up front.
The home side, managed by Allan Johnston, included ex-Pars Faissal El Bakhtoui, Michael Paton and Scott Mercer.
It was talisman Turner who opened the scoring in the 8th minute after a skillful dodge past 2 Queens defenders and a well placed shot beyond Robby McCrorie in the home goal. Andy Ryan should have made it 2-0 with a shot from 15 yards that went wide and then Kevin Nisbet, played through on goal, could only hit his shot at the out-rushing McRorie. In other games, the team have established at least a 2 goal lead but the failure to add to Turner's goal was to prove costly.
The second half began with the infamous Dumfries seagulls still perched on top of the moss-covered roof of the main stand. The club had issued a warning during the week (I kid you not) that anyone caught feeding the seagulls would be ejected from the ground; the stadium announcer repeated that warning before the game started then added, in jest presumably, that ''you can't feed them but you can eat them if you want''. Gallows humour, Dunfries-style. The birds, who apparently settle down and do their business on Palmerston's artificial pitch when games are not being played, had certainly made their mark on the seats of the East Stand where we sat.
Back to the game - although the second half was largely devoid of quality or incident. Queens showed a cynical side to their game, twice pulling back Dunfermline attackers when a breakaway seemed possible. Five home players plus Allan Johnston were booked, with no yellows issued to Crawford's team.
With Dunfermline unable to take hold of the game, Queens equalised through old foe Gary Oliver after 62 minutes. Lee Ashcroft's challenge and attempted clearance fell to Oliver who tucked the ball beyond Ryan Scully. The Pars keeper then made an excellent save, tipping a goal-bound Darren Brownlie header over the bar. There was late drama when Paul Paton hit his own post with a sliced clearance; then referee Steven Reid, who had not enjoyed the best of games, seemed to point to the spot after Queens' Connor Murray was challenged in the box, then changed his mind to the relief of Pars players and fans.
In the final minute, a Pars corner was headed wide by Euan Murray, who fell awkwardly and required medical attention. Concern grew for the defender as he was stretchered off but fortunately it was confirmed after the match that a hospital visit was not required after his neck had been injured in the incident.
A disappointing game overall, with the trend for second half declines continuing.
Thankfully, there were no reports of any seagulls being eaten by any especially-hungry local or travelling fans.
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