Dunfermline lost out narrowly to the reigning SPFL Development League champions at East End Park last night, but there was much to take encouragement from in the performance of John Potter's team. The length of the Under20s division separated these clubs last season, but on this showing the gap has been narrowed significantly. The Pars fielded 4 over age players - Jason Talbot, playing in central defence; Nat Wedderburn, in his second game since his injury absence; John Herron, signed on loan from Blackpool last week; and new signing Farid El Alagui, who is building up match fitness.
Ex-Par PJ Crossan was the main threat in the Celtic team, showing exactly why Celtic wanted him this summer despite the player only having made two brief substitute appearances for Dunfermline's first team. He was substituted late in the game to warm applause from both sets of fans in the main stand.
For the Pars, captain Johnny Galloway continues to impress, and at 17 years old he already has the air of a much more experienced player. Goalkeeper Cammy Gill made 3 great second half saves, while full-backs Reece Duncan and Conner Duthie also look good prospects. Jason Talbot, who is halfway through a 2 game first team suspension, did not have a good game, being caught for pace more than once and forcing Gill into one of his saves through slack defending. Nat Wedderburn is gradually getting match sharpness back but his role in the first team may be restricted to that of playing in front of the back 4 in games where the team are expected to be under more pressure. Offensively, Nat has limited worth. Farid El Alagui showed some good touches and forced one good close range save from Celtic keeper Ross Doohan. Farid was also denied a stonewall penalty in the 58th minute, when he was blatantly shoved in the back but the rather podgy referee was hopelessly behind play, and the assistant referee naturally did not want to get involved despite being 10 yards from the incident.
The game's only goal came after 64 minutes when Celtic's Josh Kerr was given too much space at the back of the 6 yard box to get on the end of a corner and place his header beyond Gill.
The Pars tried to get the equaliser and were unlucky not to do so in the closing 5 minutes when a combination of good luck (a defensive clearance by Celtic almost going into their own net) and determined defending by the visitors prevented the game from ending in a draw, which would have been a better reflection on the 90 minutes.
Team line up below, plus match photo gallery (all photos by Pars Review).
Subs used: James Thomas, Callum Smith and Brandon Luke, replacing Farid El Alagui, Ciaran Lafferty and John Herron.
Photo gallery: All photos by Pars Review. To see full size photos, please click on images and then move through the gallery using side arrow or by clicking each photo.