Winless run continues in controversial circumstances
A return to 4-4-2 with what could be regarded as the strongest 11, a familiar starting line-up that saw Dean Shiels and Kallum Higginbotham replace Lewis Martin and Michael Paton.
MINUTES THAT MATTERED:
6' Ryan Williamson had a glorious chance to score his first ever goal when he was played in by Kallum Higginbotham. His effort was deflected wide when he should have scored
9' Sean Murdoch raced out of his goal to make a clearance. The ball appeared to hit Murdoch's hands outside the penalty box, then Saints forward Gavin Reilly made contact with Murdoch's legs and a foul was given. Murdoch was booked and from the resultant free kick Saints shot wide
24' Reilly headed straight at Murdoch - a glaring miss
38' GOAL Ian McShane sent a ball across the box that was turned in by Cammy Smith. 1-0 St Mirren
43' Declan McManus' header almost gave Dunfermline an equaliser
44' Reilly was put through on goal and with Murdoch rushing out, the dud ex-Pars loanee lifted his shot wide of the post
64' Dunfermline were awarded a penalty for a foul on Williamson. Higginbotham placed the ball on the spot but with St Mirren players harrassing the linesman, referee Craig Charleston changed his decision and gave St Mirren a free kick
74' Lee Ashcroft headed down a Cardle corner but Morris could not make good enough contact with the ball
82' Sub Michael Paton's first touch was a free kick that picked out Nicky Clark but his header was easily saved - it ought to have been a goal
87' The Pars' other sub, Fraser Aird, sliced a shot wide when he looked certain to grab a late equaliser
An improved performance that deserved at least a point but ended in another defeat. A return to 4-4-2 should not have been a surprise, as when under pressure, people often revert back to what gives them most comfort. In Allan Johnston's case, it seemed odd that he would start a home game against Queen of the South with a 4-1-4-1 formation yet go with 4-4-2 away to St Mirren the following week. It was not the formation that was to blame for the defeat, however. St Mirren were not a side capable of dominating the midfield, and so Johnston's favoured formation was not placed under undue pressure.
Referee Craig Charleston is no friend of the Pars, and he made several decisions that raised doubts as to his supposed neutrality. While the home fans were unhappy with his decision to only book Sean Murdoch early in the game, St Mirren manager Jack Ross admitted post-match that a yellow card was probably sufficient, after he had watched the incident on video. What was undeniable was Charleston's reluctance to book any Saints players, while issuing 5 yellow cards to Dunfermline. This included 2 incidents involving Saints' Adam Eckersley, who kicked out at Declan McManus in front of the linesman - no action taken - then later in the second half made a 2 footed lunge that saw a free kick given against him but not even a word, far less a card, from the Falkirk-based referee.
Dunfermline missed 3 golden chances to score: Ryan Williamson should have burst the net in the first half but saw his eventual effort deflected wide; Nicky Clark had a chance with a second half header but missed the goal; and Fraser Aird sliced a shot wide near the end of the game from a few yards out. For the home side, Gavin Reilly missed with a header and then a lob wide with the goal gaping.
We are at the stage now of praising the team for showing some determination. They are struggling and have now gathered only 3 points (all draws) from the past 7 League games. Earlier in the season we would have won a game such as today's. St Mirren and Dundee United are the poorest teams in many seasons to be fighting out the top spot in this division, which says something about the quality of the teams below them.
Johnston now faces a game at home to Brechin next week that must be won.
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