A victory in the first League game of the season, a hat trick for the team's outstanding player and a dominant display that somehow ended bizarrely with 2 penalties conceded in stoppage time and a red card that could lead to the loss of an important player next week.
Pre-match there were celebrations as the League 1 Champions flag was unfurled by Pars chairman Ross McArthur. The air of positivity carried into the game, and in the team selection by manager Allan Johnston, who reverted to an attacking 4-4-2 formation which meant no place for defensive midfielder Nat Wedderburn, despite his good performance in the Betfred Cup game last week. Jason Talbot was suspended, with Lewis Martin moving to left back. Ryan Williamson returned from illness at right back, Andy Geggan, now free from suspension, replaced Lewis Spence in midfield, and Gavin Reilly came back into the starting 11 to partner the Moff in attack.
After a flurry of unsuccessful attacks from both teams, the first goalscoring chance of the game came after 14 minutes. Kallum Higginbotham was fouled in the box and a penalty was awarded. Unfortunately, Moffat's spot kick struck the left hand post and stayed out.
Four minutes later Dumbarton took the lead. Pars keeper David Hutton was at fault twice: initially deciding to go with a 1 man defensive wall to guard Ryan Stevenson's 20 yard free kick. Not surprisingly, Stevenson found the target, and Hutton could only weakly palm the ball to the side, and straight to Dumbarton striker Robert Thomson, who clipped the ball into the net.
Gavin Reilly, who already looks in real need of a goal to increase his confidence, had a great chance to equalise in the 20th minute when Moffat played in a perfect cross, and from point blank range Reilly's header was saved by Alan Martin.
Dunfermline equalised 3 minutes later and it was talisman Joe Cardle who scored, taking a pass from the team's other main creative force, Kallum Higginbotham, and shooting beyond Martin. Cardle then got his and the team's second in the 26th minute when he gathered Ryan Williamson's pass, stepped past a defender, and lashed the ball home.
Despite further efforts from Dunfermline there were no further first half goals.
The Pars started the second half in command, and after Lee Ashcroft went close with a header from a pinpoint Higginbotham cross, another chance fell to Reilly, but his poor first touch from a Rhys McCabe pass meant the chance was lost.
After 66 minutes Cardle completed his hat trick. Dumbarton defender Frazer Wright played a woeful pass out of defence straight to Moffat, who played in Cardle who showed great composure to score with ease. Cardle then began to show his full range of skills, entertaining the crowd with some great flicks and touches in midfield. On this form, Cardle is unplayable and an absolute joy to watch.
With 9 minutes remaining, substitute David Hopkirk (pictured, right) expertly finished from close range to put the Pars 4-1 ahead. It seemed more goals would follow - and they did, but not in the way the flow of the game might have suggested.
In the first minute of injury time, Pars sub Michael Paton needlessly gave away a penalty which Mark Docherty converted. This seemed to be a mere consolation, but 2 minutes later, deep into added on time, Lee Ashcroft fouled Thomson and the visitors were awarded another penalty. Ashcroft was red carded, which could be challenged depending on the interpretation of the revised law on red carding players who have conceded a penalty. A yellow card should now be issued if the penalty was conceded in a failed attempt to win the ball. Ashcroft appeared to shove his opponent, and a second viewing would be needed to establish if the red card was correct, or should be reduced to a yellow. If the red card stands, he will miss next week's visit to Easter Road.
Docherty scored his second penalty to make the score 4-3. Thankfully, referee Barry Cook ended the game soon after the restart, and although the scoreline was no reflection on the Pars dominance, 3 points are ultimately all that matters.
Pars line-up with marks out of 10 for each player:
Photos by Pars Review. A full match photo gallery will be uploaded tomorrow.