Rarely, if ever, have I watched an entire half of a game where Dunfermline were so comprehensively outplayed as in the second period of today's game against Hibs. After a fairly even first half, the Pars were unable to gain any foothold on the game after half time, and yet it took a mistake followed by an own goal, and then a penalty, for visitors Hibs to go ahead and eventually seal the game with a late 3rd goal. The game made for depressing viewing for Pars fans, as the team were not able to complete one simple attacking move in the second half, and after a flurry of substitutions which did nothing to improve matters, we had the sight of Michael Moffat being red carded, a bizarre and most unlikely ending to a terrible Dunfermline performance.
Pars manager Allan Johnston brought Ben Richards-Everton and Nat Wedderburn in to the team, replacing Ryan Williamson and Rhys McCabe, while Gavin Reilly also returned, in place of the injured Nicky Clark. The usual 4-4-2 system was in place and in the opening stages, both sides threatended, Michael Paton with an effort for Dunfermline, and James Keatings for Hibs.
In the 22nd minute the Pars were awarded a penalty after Lee Ashcroft was pushed in the box. With memories of the 3 spot kicks all saved at the away end of the ground against Dundee United a few weeks ago, Kallum Higginbotham took the kick and confidently sent it past Marciano in the Hibs goal. Farid El Alagui then had a tremendous chance to make it 2-0 but shot tamely from close range.
Hibs had a series of free kicks from around 20 yards awarded by referee Alan Muir and from one of them by Fraser Fyvie, Sean Murdoch made a superb finger tip save to save a certain goal.
The second half began with Hibs attacking the Pars goal, and that set the pattern for almost the full 45 minutes. Dunfermline had 2 corners and one long range blast over the bar by substitute David Hopkirk, and that was it as far as attacking the home end. Hibs had all the possession and only a couple of near misses and another great Murdoch save prevented a goal coming early in the second period.
After 55 minutes the equaliser did come, and once again this season, Dunfermline contributed to their own downfall. Higginbotham dithered on the ball then sent a weak pass straight to James Keatings. His shot deflected off Ashcroft's head to give Murdoch no chance.
Higginbotham was having a terrible game, constantly giving away possession, while the midfield were non existent. Hibs had wave after wave of attacks and it was from a long ball over the top of the Pars defence that the second goal came. Ashcroft was caught out and pushed Andrew Shinnie, a definite penalty, one which Grant Holt converted with ease to make it 2-1 to Hibs.
Johnston made 3 substitutions, firstly bringing on David Hopkirk to replace El Alagui. Hopkirk went to the middle of the attack for less than 60 seconds before Moffat was brought on, replacing Higginbotham, with Hopkirk moving to the left. A strange sequence of events, Hopkirk replacing a striker and Moffat replacing a winger, with Hopkirk's brief time in the middle the result of the manager's muddled thinking.
McMullan then replaced Paton, but the long balls that Johnston denies his side ever resort to were being fired aimlessly towards a forward line with no height. Hibs lapped it all up, totally relaxed despite the single goal lead, knowing their hosts posed no threat.
The third goal came after Lewis Martin was left behind by Shinnie, whose pass found Brian Graham, the Hibs sub then firing the ball past Murdoch, whose anger towards his defence and Martin in particular being clear, and understandable.
Moffat was sent off in the final minute for what looked like a simple foul, which then escalated into a stramash, and referee Muir showing the Pars striker a red card.
The second half was a disgraceful performance by a home side that capitulated and showed no heart, fight or any idea of how to put together a half decent attack. Punts up the park to small strikers are a waste of time. Not being able to get the ball, far less string together 3 passes, is an equally big problem for the manager to address.
Pars starting 11, with marks out of 10:
All photos by Pars Review.
A full match photo gallery will be posted on Sunday.