Another game lost, this time from a winning position. After an encouraging first half, we lost our way in the second period, with an individual error leading to the winning goal after changing our shape to contain the opposition. Very, very disappointing - we were well on top after new signing Bruce Anderson put us ahead shortly before half time, which gave everyone a huge boost, the first Pars goal of the Stevie Crawford era and the product of good play between our two strikers, something that has been lacking until today.
The team lined up with 2 changes - Tom Beadling was missing, with James Craigen moving into midfield from full-back, and Ryan Williamson coming into the side at right back. Bruce Anderson took Callum Smith's place alongside Faissal El Bakhtaoui in attack. The formation was changed from last week's midfield diamond to 4-4-2, with Kallum Higginbotham and Joe Thomson playing wide on the right and left. We started the game promisingly, with Joe Thomson (twice) and James Craigen striking from distance. Ross County threatened only once in the rarly part of the game, when Ryan Scully saved well from Brian Graham's header.
The defence were clearing the ball in a basic but effective manner, with the exception of a slip from Danny Devine that led to a booking.
Anderson and El Bakhtaoui were linking well together and it was from a Faissal through ball that Anderson was put through, but his final shot was saved by Scott Fox in the County goal. Anderson then had another half chance that he might have done better with. The new striker's time came, though, taking an excellent pass from Faissal and shooting past Fox to put the Pars 1-0 up after 41 minutes.
The second half began with Michael Gardyne replacing Declan McManus for County, in what was to prove a significant change. Gardyne played wide left, and gave Ryan Williamson a hard time, the Pars defender often failing to cut out the danger caused by the County substitute.
Seven minutes into the half, the equaliser came. It seemed as though scorer Billy McKay was offise but it was later confirmed by Stevie Crawford that he was played onside, left unmarked to score from a few yards out. The team lost confidence after the goal was awarded and survived a scare when James Craigen cleared the ball off the line, and then a 64th minute goal from McKay that was ruled offside.
Stevie Crawford then made a double substitution, removing the front pair and bringing on Callum Smith to play as a loan striker and the other new loan signing, Ryan Blair, into what was now a 5 man midfield. It was done to make us harder to break down - clearly - but it also limited our attacking threat. Kallum Higginbotham, whose fluffed clearance in the 72nd minute let in County for a chance that they failed to capitalise on, did the same thing 5 minutes later, only this time Gardyne took full advantage, cutting inside and firing a shot past Scully. Six minutes later, Myles Hippolyte was brought on in place of James Craigen, and we were back with a front two.
This was 3 points lost, and despite a good first half, we are now only 4 points off the foot of the table. We return to League action in a fortnight and need to turn periods of good play into wins. If not, we are in for a very difficult end to the season.
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