A derby game that lacked the edge that local rivalry usually supplies saw Dunfermline give their best performance for some time. Although the result meant that the Pars drop one place in the Championship table, into the relegation play-off place, the team had a much more solid look about it which gives hope for the weeks ahead.
There were 3 changes from the team that started against Dumbarton last week: John Herron, Farid El Alagui and Joe Cardle replacing Ryan Williamson (Andy Geggan moving to right back), Gavin Reilly and Michael Paton. Manager Allan Johnston once again stuck to his favoured 4-4-2 formation, with Nat Wedderburn and John Herron lining up together in central midfield for the first time as a pairing. Both played well, and were a huge improvement on the Geggan & McCabe midfield duo who featured so often this season. Andy Geggan was at right back, and provided experience and a level of assurance to the defence, and delivered his own best performance of the season. This should be Geggan's position from now on unless another right back signs at some point.
The first half was fairly uneventful, with Rovers' best chance coming from a weak header from Lee Ashcroft that barely reached Sean Murdoch, forcing the goalkeeper to run from his goal to make a half clearance that, fortunately for Dunfermline, Raith failed to take advantage of. The Pars' best chance fell to Farid El Alagui, who received a pass from Joe Cardle but shot straight at Rovers' keeper Kevin Cuthbert, when he really should have scored.
The second half was much livelier, with Dunfermline the better team. John Herron had a great run past 2 Rovers players, and his well-placed shot towards the bottom corner was blocked by a defender to prevent a superb goal being scored. Nicky Clark should have scored from a perfect Kallum Higginbotham cross but looked almost surprised when the ball fell to him, and the chance was lost. Rovers' defender Iain Davidson then made a miraculous goal line clearance, somehow managing to clear the ball despite his balance taking him back into the net, with the ball diverted away from goal.
Higginbotham was having a tremendous game on the right wing, with some great flicks and passes, and a willingness to be involved in every attack, plus some pinpoint crosses that his team mates did not turn into goals. Herron had a good game and will improve with more matches, while Wedderburn was a rock in midfield. The defence did well but were fortunate when Murdoch charged from his goal, headed the ball forward but straight to the opposition, the ball then being played to Ross Callachan who was off target when he had sight of an open goal from 20 yards.
Dunfermline had other chances through a Geggan header and a Cardle shot from inside the box.
Rovers began to time waste in the second half, despite being 12 points ahead of Dunfermline in the League and having scored 4 goals at Falkirk in their last away game. Forever a Wee Team.
Referee Craig Thomson had a dreadful game - surely the most over-rated official in the Scottish game, an incompetent character who made multiple wrong decisions affecting both teams.
Pars starting 11, with marks out of 10:
All photos by Pars Review.
A full match photo gallery will be posted on Sunday.