Dunfermline Athletic 0 Aberdeen 1Author: Alistair Campbell Date: Wednesday, 26th Sep 2012
The standing ovation that the Pars received after the final whistle was an acknowledgement of the way the team had played, as well as testament to the inequity of the result.
Dunfermline dominated the first half and were a little unfortunate that Jamie Langfield and the woodwork had stood between them and a deserved lead.
Although the game was more even in the second half, the Pars again came close to scoring on more than one occasion, before the Dons snatched an unlikely winner deep into stoppage time.
Jim Jefferies went with what by now appear to be his first choice line-up with Josh Falkingham, recovered from his tonsillitis, replacing Craig Dargo who dropped out completely. It was refreshing to see no hint of any compromises in an effort to thwart the threats of the supposedly superior team as the Pars lined up in 4-4-2 formation.
The Dons left some of their bigger names on the bench, and looked to start with a 4-4-1-1, Smith playing slightly deeper than McGinn in attack. Jonny Hayes, destroyer of Pars Scottish Cup hopes last year when he was on the books of Inverness, started wide on the left, Gavin Rae was in central midfield, erstwhile forward Magennis was right-back, and that scion of the infamous Considine clan, Andrew, partnered Mark Reynolds in central defence. However, it was former Pars keeper Jamie Langfield who was to be their key player.
The Pars kicked off towards the Cowdenbeath end and it was soon apparent that they were up for the contest, Barrowman robbing Rae inside a minute to send Wallace down the right but his cross was over-hit. Four minutes later the Pars carved out a great chance, Geggan centering and Barrowman touching on to set up Husband but Langfield beat the ball away from the angle.
Next to show was Falkingham, running on to a through ball, but he couldn’t outpace Robertson and the full-back put in a saving tackle. However, it was all Dunfermline, with the Pars players hassling the Dons into mistakes, before going on the attack with quick one-touch passing. Sometimes, they had too many options – McMillan had 5 players ahead of him as he broke in 12 minutes, the ball eventually being worked via Jordan to Cardle on the other wing, and Reynolds’ diving header from Joe’s cross found his own side-netting.
Still the Pars dominated – Falkingham’s determination saw the ball break to Wallace just inside the box, but again Ryan’s cross-shot missed the target. The Pars passing and movement was such that the stand-side linesman was having his work cut out to keep up, making several border-line calls.
Aberdeen eventually got some play – Clark found a bit of space in the box but not for long as Morris closed him down, then when Morris tried to beat a man deep in the Dons half in 35 minutes, the visitors showed they could break quickly as well, Magennis and McGinn combining before the move dissolved.
Such was the pressure that Rae soon had to risk both giving away a penalty and the retribution of the referee with a trip on Cardle as he tried to take Falkingham’s lay-off on the edge of the box. It was just outside, and Wallace’s free-kick struck the wall. The home crowd were beginning to wonder if they would pay for this profligacy, when McGinn broke free with 5 minutes left of the half. Gallacher thought about charging from his goal, realised he wouldn’t get there and reversed, got his positioning right and McGinn blasted over the bar. That was a left off and the Pars nearly took advantage. Cardle won a corner, took it himself and the ball broke to Barrowman who turned and hit a left foot shot off the inside off the post with Langfield well beaten.
Despite the goalless scoreline, the Pars were given a standing ovation at the break.
Half time: Pars 0 Dons 0
The second half started in heavy rain and was much more even – the Pars’ little lay-offs and dummies round the edge of the box were being read better by the Dons defence, and they were competing more in midfield. They even began to threaten on occasion: in 51 minutes Magennis sent in a cross that Hayes tried to control as he ran in, but the ball rather bounced off him into Gallacher’s arms. Another quick break after Dowie misplayed a pass was thwarted by Morris sticking his foot in. Meanwhile Cardle had very nearly broken the deadlock when he turned Magennis inside out before curling in a right footed shot that scraped the outside of the post.