Stalemate in Methil with a bonus point for penalty shoot-out success
After the resounding 6-0 win over Elgin at East End Park on Saturday, Dunfermline again faced lower division opposition in the Betfred Cup group stage, this time East Fife. Not surprisingly, the Methil team provided stronger opposition than Elgin, being a division above Saturday's opponents and having home advantage. However, the Pars dominated possession and had more attempts at goal (17 to East Fife's 3) but wasteful finishing and the failure to test the 2 East Fife goalkeepers (one each half) meant that the game finished in a draw. The Betfred Cup awards a bonus point for winners of a penalty shoot-out after drawn matches, and it was Dunfermline who won, by 9 penalties to 8.
Allan Johnston selected the same team that faced Elgin, with new signing Dean Shiels on the bench after international clearance was received. Aaron Splaine was also fit again, and also listed among the substitutes.
The beautiful summer evening had the expected cool breeze from the sea just over the New Bayview boundary walls, and Dunfermline soon established superiority in terms of ball retention. The home side, who had manager Darren Young among their subs due to missing several players through injury, were unable to test Pars keeper Sean Murdoch. Dunfermline also did not trouble either of East Fife's goalkeepers too greatly, with the home side playing Tom Codery in goals in the first half, and ex-Par Ryan Goodfellow in the second period. The closest Dunfermline came to a goal in the first half was when Nicky Clark had the chance to shoot, but delayed, and the opportunity eventually was lost. Kallum Higginbotham also had a goal attempt after a pass-back to the keeper was penalised, but the East Fife defensive wall stood firm and blocked Higginbotham's shot.
The second half began in much the same manner, with the Pars having plenty of the ball and launching continuous attacks, which ended either in a shot hit over the bar or a move fizzling out before Goodfellow in the East Fife goal could be tested. Midway through the half, Johnston made a double substitution, giving Shiels his debut, and also putting on Scott Lochhead, with Higginbotham and Big Nat being withdrawn. It became immediately obvious that Shiels, who was positioned alongside Michael Paton in central midfield, is still a quality player, and looked a level above most of the other players on the pitch. Lochhead also made a positive contribution, as did the third sub, Callum Smith, who had a late shot that Goodfellow saved. Smith had replaced the hard working Declan McManus, who was the team's best performer.
And so the game went to penalties, which last season would have been Dunfermline's worst nightmare. Both teams scored their opening 8 attempts, with the Pars scoring through Shiels, Paton, Clark, Cardle, Lochhead, Morris, Ashcroft and Williamson. Smith then scored the Pars' ninth, after which East Fife's Ben Gordon hit the post with his effort.
The bonus point could be important come the end of the group stage and Dunfermline now have 5 points from a possible 6. They also have a class act in Shiels, who will be a great asset in the season ahead.
Pars starting 11 & subs:
Tomorrow: full match photo gallery.
Photos: Pars Review
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