Damage limitation becomes the manager's aim as Pars lose again
Dan Armstrong replaced Andy Ryan in the starting 11. The remainder of the team remained the same as in the last League game. The same subs (with Ryan dropping to the bench) were named, with Fraser Aird and Dean Shiels again not included in the matchday squad.
Team: Robinson, Williamson, Talbot, M'Voto, Ashcroft, Beadling, Craigen, Vincent, McManus, Clark, Armstrong. Subs: Gill, Martin, Morris, Wedderburn, Cardle, Higginbotham, Ryan.
It is now almost 5 months since Dunfermline defeated a team above 8th place in the Championship. This latest defeat saw Allan Johnston admit to damage limitation in the latter stages of the game. Unable to win, the latest objective is now to avoid a heavy loss.
In heavy rain and strong winds, St Mirren went into the game without the ill Lewis Morgan, and named ex-Par Gavin Reilly up front. The home side had the better chances in the first half, with Pars keeper Lee Robinson making a fantastic reaction save to prevent Stephen McGinn from giving Saints the lead. Danny Mullen then put a header wide of Robinson's goal when he really should have hit the target. Dunfermline's only serious effort on goal came from a Nicky Clark shot that Craig Samson did well to turn round the post.
Although St Mirren had more goal attempts than Dunfermline, it was the Pars who had the best chance to break the deadlock. Armstrong passed to James Craigen but the midfielder sliced his shot horribly wide from close range. Joe Cardle then replaced Armstrong.
When it seemed that the game could end goalless, St Mirren were awarded a 69th minute penalty. Jason Talbot, booked in the first half, received a second yellow for conceding the penalty and was sent off. Harry Davis placed his kick straight down the middle to put St Mirren ahead. Lewis Martin was brought on at left back at the expense of Craigen.
Three minutes later, St Mirren made it 2-0. After a tussle inside the Pars penalty box, the ball fell to Liam Smith whose well-struck shot hit the net.
What happened next was an embarrassment to Dunfermline Athletic. Rather than try to mount any sort of comeback, Allan Johnston substituted Declan McManus, and brought on Callum Morris. A centre forward withdrawn for a central defender. Down to 10 men and more than half the outfield players were now defenders. Nicky Clark was left up front on his own. The Pars support made their feelings clear. Is this what we have become? So bad that the best we can do is just keep the score down? Johnston admitted in his post match interview that the Morris substitution was made with avoiding a heavier defeat in mind. This was not the first leg of a home and away play-off tie. While salvaging something at 2-0 down might have seemed unlikely, it is totally unacceptable to so openly surrender any hopes of doing anything except conceding any further goals.
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