Dunfermline Athletic 1 Hamilton Academical 1Author: Alistair Campbell Date: Saturday, 15th Dec 2012
Hamilton set their stall out straight from kick-off to make it hard for the Pars, and their plan nearly worked to perfection as they spurned two late chances to win this. Stevie May had finished their first attacking move and although Barrowman soon equalised from Dargo’s cut-back, chances were scarce and a draw was probably just about right.
With snow earlier in the week and concerns over the threats to cash-flow from a postponed fixture, the under-soil heating had apparently been employed in the days before kick-off. As it happened it was a relatively balmy 8 degrees come 3 p.m. although the wind whistling through the main stand made it feel much colder.
Callum Morris had received a two match ban for his red card at Livi and so John Potter came into the side as left centre back in a straight swap. The other change was Ryan Thomson getting a start instead of the absent Joe Cardle and with Paul Gallacher unable to recover from his ankle injury the Pars went with Hrivnak in goals, a back four of McMillan, Dowie, Potter and Jordan, a midfield quartet of Falkingham, Husband, Geggan and Thomson and a front pairing of Barrowman and Dargo. Ryan Goodfellow was the substitute keeper, and he occupied the bench along with Wallace, Kirk, Whittle and Byrne.
Hamilton lined up with four along the back, and the experienced Alex Neil sitting just in front. With four in midfield, that left Stevie May, resplendent in his yellow boots, red thermal, black gloves and long hair, to plough a lone furrow in attack.
The Pars kicked off attacking the Cowdenbeath end, but the game was slow to get going, with nothing of note happening for the first few minutes, before the Pars should have taken the lead with their first attack. Jordan started the move on the left but the ball was worked to the right where both McMIllan and Falkingham were involved before Husband chipped the ball in and Barrowman miscued from the corner of the six-yard box.
The Pars continued to have more of the ball in the early stages, but with Hamilton getting 10 men between the ball and the goal, the home team was getting little joy. The visitors may have had a plan to pressurise Potter, but if they did then sitting too far back made the successful execution of such a scheme unlikely. John’s first few touches weren’t the best, but each time adequate enough to clear his lines, and when May tried the old-fashioned kick and rush to outpace him Dowie was swiftly across to deposit the ball in the North-West stand.
However, the visitors took a shock lead in 17 minutes. A ball down the line saw Crawford get away from Jordan, and although his cutback from the byeline was behind Routledge, May arrived to guide the ball past Hrivnak from the edge of the box. 1-0 Accies.
Geggan soon had a chance to level – with few options he had a dig himself from 20 yards, which Cuthbert beat away – before Hamilton nearly doubled their lead. A corner from the right saw Neil lose his marker but fire over the top.
The Pars were still struggling to make headway – balls from the flanks were easily defended, and the timing of forward runs into the channels wasn’t matching the timing of passes. It took McGlinchey to miss a ball forward from Husband, still wearing his old boots, to allow Falkingham free on the right but Cuthbert narrowed the angle to save. This was encouraging, and not long after the Pars equalised. Dargo was level with his man when he made the break to get onto Dowie’s pass and ran clear but when he didn’t cross to Thomson who had made a run to the back post and instead turned back onto his left, it looked as if the chance was gone. However Craig picked out Barrowman by the penalty spot and he squeezed the ball home in off the far post. One all.
Barrowman had a chance a couple of minutes when Dargo laid the ball off to him and for once he has some space, but his 20 yard effort just wouldn’t curl enough and flew past the keeper’s left-hand post.
Hamilton maintained their strategy – when Geggan nearly burst through, falling literally at the last hurdle when he tried to leap over the last tackle, they were suddenly looking dangerous at the other end, but the Pars held firm and the score was level at the break.
Half Time: Pars 1 Accies 1
When these teams met at New Douglas Park last time, the Pars burst out of the traps to score within seconds of the kick-off, and they should really have done the same here. Geggan won the ball, found Husband who showed quick feet to go past his man, but with the chance to shoot himself chose to play in Dargo on the right, but his shot was wild and off-target.
Three minutes later there could have been a goal at either end. Hamilton played a neat one two at the edge of the box to free Fisher, who could have shot left footed, but chose to turn on to his right and Hrivnak did well to tip the ball onto the post when a goal seemed inevitable. The ball squirted across the goal line and McMillan nearly sliced his clearance into his own net. Then from the corner the Pars had several goes at clearing the danger, before Jordan passed to Thomson rather than blasting the ball up the park, and Ryan burst forward, passed to Dargo on the left touch line who immediately swept the ball to the far side to set Falkingham free on goal. Sadly, for the Pars, Cuthbert got enough on the ball to divert Josh’s shot for a corner.