Pre-season friendly: Dunfermline 0, Hibs 4
The first pre-season friendly open to the public resulted in an ultimately convincing win for the away side but not before a first half that really should have seen Dunfermline on level terms at the very least. The Pars lined up in a 3-5-2 formation, that sometimes morphed into 3-4-3 or 3-4-1-2 with Kallum Higginbotham moving further forward. The departure from the familiar 4-4-2 was largely successful until second half substitutions saw the formation revert back to a back 4. The initial back 3 of Callum Morris, Jean Yves M'Voto and Lee Ashcroft that started the game nullified the Hibs' attack and restricted the visitors to a single shot on goal from open play in the first half; unfortunately, that shot - from Danny Swanson, in the 24th minute, found the net and gave Hibs a 1-0 lead that they held until half time.
Dunfermline had several goal attempts in the first half - Nicky Clark had 2 headers that glanced wide of the post, David Hopkirk fizzed a good effort just wide of the post from distance, and the same player then missed a glorious chance to score when put through on the goalkeeper, only to seemingly stumble and fluff his shot. Lee Ashcroft then headed an equaliser that referee Kevin Clancy dislalowed for a non-existent foul on Hibs keeper Marciano, who dropped the ball under pressure before Ashcroft turned the ball in.
Aaron Splaine was impressive in midfield, capable of good cross-field diagonal passes, and full of energy. He was booked late in the first half for a foul which Hibs then hit the woodwork from the resulting free-kick.
The second half began with Michael Paton replacing Splaine in midfield, the first of a raft of substitutions that led to the formation reverting to 4-4-2; in addition to Splaine, Lewis Martin, Lee Ashcroft, Nat Wedderburn, Kallum Higginbotham, David Hopkirk and Nicky Clark were replaced between the 53rd and 85th minutes by Joe Cardle, Conner Duthie, Scott Lochhead, Callum Smith and trialists Cameron King and Michael Coulson. The Pars had far less attacking threat in the second half, with the best chance falling to a hesitant Ryan Williamson, who was in a position to shoot inside the box but seemed reluctant to do so, and the chance was gone. Trialist Coulson looked lively and was unlucky not to score when he created space inside the box but saw his shot saved.
Gaps were appearing in the Dunfermline midfield that Hibs fully capitalised on. Former Arsenal and Liverpool star Jermaine Pennant doubled Hibs' lead after 59 minutes. Two further Hibs goals followed from Martin Boyle and Olly Shaw.
For most of the first half, when Dunfermline were at full strength, they more than matched their Premiership opponents in general play, but without scoring. Outwith tonight's starting 11 plus at most a couple of substitutes (Cardle, again, was impressive), there is a real lack of strength in depth, and while the central defence is good enough for Championship football, the full-back/wing-back positions require upgrading. A cutting edge up front is currently lacking, and it also has to be noted that the clever link-up play of Michael Moffat is also noticeable by its absence.
Pars starting 11 and subs:
Tomorrow: full match photo gallery.
Photos: Pars Review
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