Progress to the next round of the Scottish Cup was achieved with a 1 goal victory that did not reflect the long spells of dominance that Dunfermline enjoyed for most of the game. As in the previous round, a 4-3 win at Buckie, this was another game that produced several goals and an all-important away win.
Manager Allan Johnston made 3 changes to the team that drew with Ayr last week: Lewis Martin, Callum Morris and Gavin Reilly replacing Jason Talbot, Callum Fordyce and Michael Moffat, who were all named as substitutes. This was Morris' first start of the season, having not played for previous club Aberdeen prior to his return to Dunfermline 2 weeks ago. He fitted in well alongside Lee Ashcroft in central defence, although the defence will be disappointed to lose two late goals.
The fog that caused fans to doubt of the game would take place lifted sufficiently by early afternoon, and the large travelling support filled the small Indodrill stadium, outnumbering the home support by at least 4 to 1.
After a fairly uneventful opening 10 minutes, with Dunfermline having the majority of possession, the game's first bookings were issued after Kallum Higginbotham reacted to a crunching tackle from Steven Hetherington. Both players were booked. Two minutes later Dunfermline took the lead. A through ball to Gavin Reilly was blocked by Alloa keeper Neil Parry. The ball fell to Nicky Clark who swept it into the net.
Higginbotham was showing some great touches on the left wing despite the moronic element of the Alloa support shouting abuse at the Pars winger. The new Zero Tolerance rules have yet to be applied at the Indodrill, with the same small group of home fans encouraging their players to break Paul McMullan's legs at one point, in colourful language. It was from a Higginbotham cross that Clark almost scored again, his header well saved by Parry. Alloa's best chance of the first half then fell to Kevin Cawley who got his shot on target but was unable to beat Sean Murdoch.
The Pars second goal came after 43 minutes, after a series of corners, Higginbotham then varied the routine by playing the ball short to Paul McMullan, who rounded a defender before shooting low into the far corner.
With Dunfermline 2-0 ahead, and Higginbotham already booked, Allan Johnston made a half time substitution, replacing Higginbotham with Joe Cardle. The Pars continued the second half in control of the game, with Cardle and McMullan both coming close to extending the lead further. Nat Wedderburn was in imperious form in midfield, showing a range of passing, short and long, and dominating the middle of the park.
In the 61st minute Cardle got on the scoresheet when he took a pass from Clark and shot home. At 3-0 up, the game looked over such was the Pars apparent superiority.
Alloa got a goal back after 68 minutes, substitute Stefan McCluskey scoring with his first touch, a header that evaded the Pars defence. Two more Pars substitutions were made, with Michael Moffat and Rhys McCabe replacing Nicky Clark and John Herron. Cardle had a great chance to score again when Moffat played him through on goal but the winger shot straight at Parry. The Moff looked to have put his team 4-1 up with a header from a Cardle cross, but the goal was disallowed due to offside.
The Pars lead was then reduced to 1 goal in added on time when Alloa striker Greig Spence, standing in a suspiciously offside position, got in between Sean Murdoch and Lee Ashcroft to turn the ball into the net. Pars left back Lewis Martin then almost gifted Alloa an equaliser when he was caught in possession and from the ball played across, ex-Par Graeme Holmes had a shot that the Dunfermline defence charged down.
Ultimately all that matters in Cup games is progression into the next round, but the win could, and should, have been much more comfortable.
Pars starting 11, with marks out of 10:
Photos by Pars Review.
Tomorrow: full match photo gallery.