A game that Dunfermline largely dominated saw 2 goals gifted to the opposition - again! - and a failure to win 3 points against the current favourites for relegation. Manager Allan Johnston once again stuck rigidly to his favoured 4-4-2 formation, with injuries to Ben Richards-Everton and Farid El Alagui leading to Ryan Williamson and fit-again Nicky Clark returning to the starting 11, with Lewis Martin moving to central defence. Joe Cardle was fit enough to be listed as a substitute.
Dunfermline started the brighter of the teams, and came closest to scoring through a long range chip from Kallum Higginbotham that hit the bar, and a couple of efforts from Nicky Clark. As the half wore on, play became turgid. Pars captain Andy Geggan avoided being completely anonymous by continually mis-passing and giving the ball away. How a player in such poor form - for weeks now - is still in the team and has retained the captaincy is an indictment of the manager's failure to adequately staff his squad with a half-decent replacement.
Dumbarton took the lead in the 37th minute, and appropriately for Halloween weekend, it was the result of a horrific piece of defending. Ryan Williamson allowed Robert Thomson to get past him, unchallenged, the ball reaching Joe Thomson who gave Sean Murdoch no chance. This blog does not make scapegoats out of players, but any fair and balanced assessment of Williamson's defensive capabilities would have to conclude that Ryan just does not possess the awareness or basic attributes required of a defender at this level.
Michael Paton was substituted at half time, replaced by Joe Cardle, with Higginbotham moving to the right wing. There was an immediate improvement in the Pars' play, with Cardle providing energy that had been lacking before his introduction. The equaliser came after 50 minutes through a great run down the left wing by Jason Talbot, and his excellent cross found the head Nicky Clark, who scored with ease.
Michael Moffat was brought on in place of Gavin Reilly and had an opportunity to give Dunfermline the lead, but connected weakly with an attempt from close range. Higginbotham had 2 shots from distance that flew over and past the goal.
With 9 minutes remaining, Dunfermline went 2-1 ahead. Cardle played the ball to Clark, whose shot hit the post and fell to Cardle who scored from 6 yards out. The players and fans celebrated wildly.
A minute later, the Pars defence threw away the lead. Williamson failed to cut out a cross, and with the Pars central defenders nowhere to be seen, Jason Talbot was left on the wrong side of Garry Fleming, who was able to get the necessary touch on the ball to divert it into the net.
Dunfermline's final chance fell to Nicky Clark, who was played through by a defence-splitting ball from Moffat. Clark's shot from the right side of the box went wide of the post.
Dumbarton kept pressing for a winner and went close twice in the final minute. A draw was a fair result but the Dunfermline performance was once again poor. The manager's claim that "we are better than this" is sounding more deluded with each passing week.
Pars starting 11, with marks out of 10:
All photos by Pars Review.
A full match photo gallery will be posted on Sunday.