A disastrous second half saw Dunfermline leave Stark's Park humiliated and out of the Scottish Cup after handing Raith Rovers a passage into the next round. The home side were no threat until the Pars defence collapsed, with captain Lee Ashcroft sent off, his replacement Mark Durnan then conceding a penalty, and the third of the Three Stooges, Danny Devine, guilty of allowing the ball to bounce past him for the third goal. An absolute shambles at the back after playing relatively well in the first half, but unable, as always, to score a goal when dominating.
It's the same old story and there has to be movement in the January transfer window otherwise this season could end in a relegation battle. We have a cushion over the teams below us but until we can score a goal, take the lead and maintain it for a sustained run of games, we will inevitably struggle. There is zero end product with this group of players. Exiting the Cup will not help matters, as the budget for bringing in new players will be impacted. At the very least, we need bodies in to replace the two Hearts loanees who have been recalled to their parent club. Regardless of any budget for new signings, we would still have Keena and Martin in the squad and so whatever money has been saved by their departures (assuming we were paying at least part of their wages) has to be reinvested. That is the minimum requirement. Ideally we would have a complete overhaul - in the same way the Jack Ross gutted St Mirren's squad in January 2016. We may not be bottom of the division as St Mirren were but our results are dire and we have no leaders in the team, along with a chronic lack of goal threat. There's not much creativity in the final third of the pitch either - it's not all on the strikers - there aren't exactly many clear cut chances being created.
Myles Hippolyte should have given the team the lead after 36 minutes but his close range effort was saved by Robbie Thomson. Hippolyte had the whole goal to aim at and should have given the Rovers keeper no chance but that aside, we played well with Faissal El Bakhtaoui lively in the opening 20 minutes. Unfortunately, Faissal's good play was not matched by his weak finishing, fluffing one attempt and then shooting weakly into Thomson's arms in the second half. He was then replaced by Robbie Muirhead, a player who has to rank as the worst Pars signing in living memory. Yes, worse than Noel Whelan, Gavin Reilly and others. He's that bad.
The game turned after Ashcroft allowed the ball to bounce past him and then hauled down Chris Duggan. He was correctly red carded by Bobby Madden and his place in defence taken by sub Mark Durnan, with Hippolyte going off. The first Rovers goal came after 70 minutes. Durnan appeared to swing an arm at Duggan and from the resultant penalty, Lewis Vaughan put the ball past Lee Robinson. The Pars keeper had been booked in the lead up to the kick, pretending to kick dirt from his boots against the post, forgetting that the pitch was plastic. Morons in the home support also seemed to forget that their grass playing surface had been replaced last summer, and threw 3 flares onto the pitch, The stadium announcer spoke over the tannoy, confirming that damage had been caused to the artificial surface.
The second goal, in the 79th minute, saw Duggan cross from the right and Vaughan head his own second with the Pars defence posted missing. Vaughan then completed his hat trick when in virtually the same area of the pitch where Ashcroft was red carded, Danny Devine let the ball bounce over his head, failed to react, and looked on as Vaughan ran past him and slotted the ball past Robinson.
The end of the game saw stand-in captain Kallum Higginbotham ask one of the Pars supporters for a ''discussion'' after some of the players had applauded the away support. Higgy saw something in the away stand and then walked back across the pitch, gesturing to someone to come down and see him. The Police intervened to avoid further embarrassment to the club.
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