An emphatic victory and a continuation of the high standard set in last week's game at Hibs saw Dunfermline claim 3 home points. There was an outstanding goalscoring performance from Nicky Clark, scoring 4 times, and other standout performances from some of Clark's team mates. Even the substitutes, so often left unused this season, contributed and while manager Allan Johnston may still have a preferred first 11, he will know that there are other players ready if called upon.
Dumbarton began the game on a 4 game unbeaten run and on the same points total as Dunfermline, although having played 2 games more. Ex-Pars Gregor Buchanan, Andy Stirling and Robert Thomson were all in the Dumbarton starting line-up. Dunfermline were unchanged from last week's draw at Hibs. It was the visitors who threatened early. In the third minute, the ball fell to Robert Thomson who crashed in a piledriver from distance that Sean Murdoch tipped over. In the 7th minute, Dunfermline took the lead. Michael Moffat played in a perfectly weighted cross for Nicky Clark to score his 10th goal of the season. The Pars began to dominate with the attacking quartet of Clark, Moffat, Kallum Higginbotham and Paul McMullan all involved. After 24 minutes, Moffat again showed his ability to create chances by putting Clark through on goal. Dumbarton keeper Alan Martin blocked Clark's effort. Three minutes later Dunfermline went 2-0 ahead. Clark found McMullan who hit a shot into the top corner. Martin got a hand to it but was unable to prevent the goal.
What followed next was a shocking incident involving 2 Dumbarton players. Mark Docherty appeared to headbutt his team mate Stuart Carswell. With blood pouring fro his face, Carswell walked off the field and into the dugout, in some distress. He was substituted but no action was taken by the referee.
Dunfermline continued to dominate but it was Murdoch who was called upon to prevent what seemed a certain goal 3 minutes before half time. Thomson headed the ball towards the corner of the goal and Murdoch got down well to palm it away, and was then quick to react when David Smith got to the ball and hit a shot that the Pars keeper cleared with his boot at his left hand post.
The Moff was having an excellent game and could have got a much deserved goal in the 50th minute. He raced into the box, and got a shot in that the Dumbarton keeper did well to save.
In midfield, Nat Wedderburn was in great form, showing once again what an important player he is, and how central a figure in the team he has become. An outrageous and unlikely pirouette was one highlight of his performance, and he barely had one misplaced pass all afternoon.
Rhys McCabe replaced John Herron on the hour after Herron seemed to be struggling with an injury. Dunfermline went 3-0 ahead soon after that change, when Clark headed home from a corner.
With a busy schedule of games over the next 2 weeks, Allan Johnston made use of 2 more substitutes and replaced The Moff and Big Nat with Gavin Reilly and Lewis Spence. Once again, a goal followed soon after the introduction of a sub, when Clark completed his hat trick in the 79th minute, taking a pass from Spence and placing the ball in the far corner out of the keeper's reach.
Clark then got his fourth after 84 minutes, with a header from an Andy Geggan cross.
Dumbarton got a consolation goal a minute later through Daniel Harvie.
With the last kick of the game, Clark tried for his fifth but his shot blazed over from just inside the penalty box.
A fantastic win, and a very good performance from the whole team, with a standout display from Nicky Clark.
Starting 11 plus subs, and marks out of 10:
Photos by Pars Review.
Tomorrow: full match photo gallery.