Pre-season friendly: Raith Rovers 3, Dunfermline 0
If this isn't in the top 5 of most miserable performances of my 26 years as a Pars fan, it's very close. Let's dismiss talk of "it's only a friendly" - this was an abject, clueless, disjointed performance that can only have one redeeming aspect - highlighting the need to add quality to the current squad, and to complete signings before further embarrassments happen.
The team lined up in a 4-4-1-1 formation. Lee Ashcroft, who is suspended for Saturday's Betfred Cup game, was on the bench, to allow Big Jock (M'Voto) and Callum Morris to have more game time playing as a partnership in central defence. Nicky Clark and David Hopkirk missed out altogether. The remainder of the squad, with the exception of the injured Jason Talbot and young defender Paul Allan, were playing or on the bench. Michael Paton started on the left wing, with Joe Cardle playing behind lone striker Declan McManus.
Raith, newly relegated to the Seaside League, began the stronger team. Their new signings, strikers Liam Buchanan and Greig Spence, were causing the Pars defence problems with their movement. Dunfermline's only real opportinity fell to Ryan Williamson but his shot went wide. Michael Paton was then moved into centre midfield, with Aaron Splaine shunted to the left wing. McManus, making his first appearance of the pre-season, was an isolated figure and must have wondered who was supposed to be supporting him. Cardle wandered around the park, while Higginbotham showed indiscipline both in his temperament and his positioning.
The first Rovers goal came in the 25th minute when Cardle, in right midfield, cut inside and lost possession. Rovers' Bobby Barr then got the better of Callum Morris, and found Liam Buchanan who scored. Morris and Cardle then had an argument about who was to blame.
The home side doubled their lead 8 minutes later when Barr was again the creator. His pass was met by Lewis Vaughan who finished with ease.
The second half began with Aaron Splaine withdrawn and the formation changing to 4-4-2, with Cardle on the left wing and Callum Smith replacing Splaine, and going up front with McManus. Ryan Williamson had a few runs up the right wing and carried the greatest attacking threat, although his final ball often lacked accuracy. Higginbotham was getting angrier the longer the game went on. Nat Wedderburn was ponderous in midfield.
Scott Lochhead replaced McManus, with the Pars attack now featuring a 17 year old (Smith) and Lochhead, who is a midfielder.
Rovers made it 3-0 with a minute remaining when Ross Matthews shot home from 18 yards.
A shambles, and a display that should act as the catalyst for movement in the transfer market.
Pars starting 11 and subs:
Tomorrow: full match photo gallery.
Photos: Pars Review
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