SPL v Aberdeen
DUNFERMLINE 0 ABERDEEN 2
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League
Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: Iain Brines
Weather: 13ºC Cool West Wind
Jim Leishman made four changes from the team that faced Kilmarnock in the previous SPL match. Greg Shields returns from injury, Yannick Zambernardi makes his debut, with last week`s subs Liam Horsted and Jamie McCunnie handed starts. This meant Greg Ross, Iain Campbell, Andy Tod and Bartosz Tarachulski all found themselves watching from the dugout.
Aberdeen boss Jimmy Calderwood is forced to make one change; former Par Richie Byrne missing out and being replaced by Scott Muirhead.
Stevie Crawford and Steve Lovell kicked the game off off with the visitors defending the goal in front of their colourful Aberdeen support. The Red Ultras banner and back of the stand to front red and white rolls of cloth were unrolled although the travelling support were not as numerous as expected.
Early play was towards McGregor`s goal but the defence held strong dealing with a 5th minute corner and a couple of dangerous crosses. Five minutes later another weakly conceded corner was tipped away by McGregor who was taking full responsibility for his box. The Pars first corner followed in 13th minute. Horsted`s pass out to the left set up a fine cross from Zambernardi and Mark Burchill`s header was deflected behind on the right. The Pars were penalised for pushing at the corner and Ryan Esson`s dropping of the ball was irrelevant.
Jamie Smith excited the Dons fans when he got the better of Darren Young in the middle of the park and sent a 25 yard shot narrowly over the crossbar. The ex Dens parker then exchanges passes on the edge of the box and got the break off the ball to square for Muirhead in the six yard box but Shields cut out the ball at the critical moment.
Muirhead was given space to make a break down the left wing and when he swung over the cross it was defended only as far as Barry Nicholson but fortunately Lee Makel charged down the shot from 25 yards. As Dunfermline soaked up the pressure, Smith came worryingly close in the 27th minute with a low drive from outside the box that whizzed just outside McGregor`s right hand post.
Four minutes later the old Nicholson - Crawford act almost did the business; Barry latched on to a header won by Diamond in a brave challenge with Zambernardi but fortunately McGregor held the shot albeit at the second attempt. The rain came pelting down and Dunfermline had a couple of chances of their own with Severin wildly clearing a Horsted cross from the byeline and then Burchill going on a run to fire at Esson from 25 yards.
Ten minutes from half time Aberdeen took the lead. Barry Nich worked his way to the byeline out on the right and his delivery was hooked into the net in true Stevie CRAWFORD style. Nich was left celebrating the goal arms upright in front of the stunned McCathie Stand.
Aberdeen threaten further in 41st minute with Allan McGregor forced to make a fine save to stop a Kevin McNaughton piledriver from 30 yards. The Pars had one final sortie before the break with Russell Anderson`s challenge on Derek Young winning a free kick that Makel pumped into the box only for Esson to pick out of the air. Half time was not to be reached without the Dons notching a second however. A free kick on the left was whipped into the box by Jamie Smith and Scott SEVERIN forced a route through to head into the Pars net. Half Time 0-2.
Bartosz Tarachulski came on in place of Mark Burchill and from the restart a knock down from the tall Pole to Darren Young was belted a couple of feet wide of Esson`s left hand post. Next Tarachulski had a pop at goal from wide right after Derek Young had fought well for possession but Esson held with ease. The Pars seemed up for a comeback forcing a corner and making a claim for a penalty when Bartosz was flattened in the penalty box.
A penalty did come the Pars way in 54 minutes nevertheless. Zambernardi`s ball to Tarachulski on the left side led to the Pole`s cross that that was stopped by Zander Diamond`s hand and referee Iain Brines pointed to the spot. The Scotland man was shown a yellow card before Lee Makel stepped up to thump a low effort that came back off the left upright with the keeper going the wrong way. Two penalty misses then in the last two home matches. Luck seems to have deserted Leishman`s boys.
Noel Hunt`s introduction for Horsted brought even more urgency into the home side`s play. Aberdeen were forced back and Dunfermline definitely had the initiative. The Pars strung together passes and for the third quarter of the game seemed to be winning much more of the second balls.
Tarachulski saw his 73rd minute effort stopped by an Aberdeen hand but no penalty this time. McGregor was back in action to intercept a Chris Clark cut back and then a penetrating Crawford pass set up Jamie Smith but yet gain he was wide of target from 25 yards.
The time was running out for the Pars and the luck was not changing as a fabulous rocket of a shot from Yannick Zambernardi, 30 yards out was beaten out by Esson six minutes from time. The second half gave the home support renewed hope for the future but it was the Dons fans who were on song at 4.50pm.
The weather made it was a horrible day for the spectator and the Pars first half performance was equally wretched. In possession terms it was a game of two halves but the Pars amid their gathering depression in second bottom spot, failed to test Dons keeper Ryan Esson. Dunfermline have yet to score at home this season but if they would score from the penalty spot that could have been different.
Both Scott Morrison and Gary Mason watched this game, with the latter stating that he hoped to be back for the away game at Tynecastle next month.
Dunfermline Squad: Allan McGregor; Jamie McCunnie, Scott Wilson, Scott Thomson, Yannick Zambernardi; Greg Shields, Lee Makel, Darren Young, Liam Horsted (Noel Hunt 59); Mark Burchill (Bartosz Tarachulski HT), Derek Young
Dunfermline Subs: Bryn Halliwell, Aaron Labonte, Greg Ross, Iain Campbell, Andy Tod
Dunfermline Strip: Home White and Black
Dunfermline Yellow Card: Hunt (83)
Aberdeen Squad: Ryan Esson; Zander Diamond, Scott Severin, Russell Anderson; Kevin McNaughton, Barry Nicholson, Jamie Smith, Chris Clark, Scott Muirhead (Gary Dempsey 88); Stevie Crawford, Steve Lovell (Richard Foster 77)
Aberdeen Subs: Jamie Langfield, Jamie Winter, Andrew Considine, Kyle MacAulay, Chris McGuire
Aberdeen Goal Scorers: Crawford (35), Severin (45)
Aberdeen Yellow Card: Severin (54)
Ladbrokes Championship: Saturday 18th March, Dunfermline v Ayr United kick off 3.00pm