A bizarre winning goal in added on time secured fifth place in the Championship for Dunfermline in an enjoyable day in the sun in Dumfries. Nicky Clark's winner, his 16th goal of the season, came when the game seemed about to end goalless. The home side had more goal attempts but the Pars defence was resolute, and the 3 points were not undeserved.
Michael Paton replaced (a presumably injured) Jason Talbot at left back - which must have been a career-first for the right winger, in what was the only change from the team that defeated Morton last week. Queens began the game knowing that only a victory would be enough to move above Dunfermline into the top half of the division. The home side's main threat, naturally, came from top scorer Stephen Dobbie, with the veteran striker looking to add to his 26 goals for the season.
Dobbie threatened early, before Rhys McCabe had attempts from 2 free kicks outside the box. John Rankin then sent a shot just past Sean Murdoch's post. Both teams were keen to attack, and the game contained more action than most end of season matches. Dunfermline's best chance of the first half came when Kallum Higginbotham passed to Nicky Clark, who had time and space to do better than his eventual tame effort.
Queens' midfielder Callum Tapping had the ball in the net after 53 minutes but the linesman's flag was already raised. Dobbie was still a threat and shot wide and then was booked for an apparent dive in the penalty box.
Joe Cardle replaced the Moff on the hour, with Higginbotham moving into a central role and Paul McMullan switching to the right wing. Cardle, who has had a disappointing past few months, largely unused and not making an impact when given game time, had his best performance for some time, actively influencing the game and creating problems with his movement. This is the Cardle we would all like to see next season - mixing up play and showing the ability he undoubtedly possesses.
The game progressed with Queens trying to score the goal they needed to leapfrog the Pars in the table, but vulnerable to quick Pars counter attacks. Murdoch, who had made some good saves and who was aided by a great display from Callum Fordyce, then provided an unlikely goal assist with his upfield clearance that Clark connected with. Queens' keeper Lee Robinson was out of position, then seemed to slip, as the ball went past him and trundled into the net. The Pars players and fans celebrated the goal, the last of the season, and a fitting way to end the final match of 2016/17.
Pars starting 11, with marks out of 10:
Photos and edits by Pars Review.
Full match photo gallery will be posted tomorrow.