SPL v St Mirren
ST MIRREN 2 DUNFERMLINE 1 19/11/11
Attendance: 4363 (inc 524 Dunfermline fans), Kick Off: 3.00pm.
Referee: Crawford Allan
The Pars travelled to Paisley for the first time since 2007 to face St Mirren who have moved home since the last meeting. Paddy Boyle came in for the injured Andy Dowie, the only change from the starting eleven at Easter Road two weeks ago. On the bench for the Pars were three of the under 19s - central defender Kerr Young, central midfielder Shaun Byrne and left wing back Ross Drummond.
St Mirren made two changes from the side that faced Hearts last time out; Steven Thomson and Nigel Hasselbaink replacing Graham Carey and Gary Teale both of whom found themselvrs on the bench. The home side kicked off on a gloomy afternoon at New St Mirren Park and on 90 seconds Jim Goodwin`s low shot from 30 yards was parried away by Paul Gallacher, then in four minutes a Kenny Watson drive came back off Paul Burns at the top of the penalty box raising claims for a penalty from the home support.
The Buddies pressed hard for an early breakthrough and the Dunfermline defence soon knew that they were into a game. A Paul McGowan free kick in from the left was trapped under Burns and there was a melee until the ball was cleared only for shot to come in from the edge of the box that Gallacher held despite an awkward deflection. Then on eight minutes St Mirren piled forward again only for Steven Thomson to drive on target but to be blocked by his own player - McGowan.
In 14th minute Gallacher turned a McGowan shot around his left hand post and from the resultant corner Lee Mair headed wide left. Still St Mirren attacked the Pars and the ball was played across the face of goal all too frequently. Dunfermline failed to involve St Mirren keeper Craig Samson but David Graham at least got close enough to drive a shot into the left sidenetting.
St Mirren were forced into a early substitution with Graham Carey replacing Steven Thomson after just 18 minutes. The Pars were not retaining enough possession when they got the opportunity and St Mirren conitnued to create all the chances. On 21 minutes McLean had a great chance but just failed to time his run to head home a fine Goodwin cross.
When the ball was skied in front of the St Mirren goal Samson was fortunate to see Paddy Boyle penalised for his attempt to convert the chance at the right post. In 25 minutes Saints got the goal that was threatening for some time. Goodwin and Carey created the break to play Hasselbaink in the left side of the box and he was forced to the byeline by Keddie but got in the cross that McLEAN met to stick past Gallacher from close in.
The Pars had a very good chance to get the equaliser back after Paul Willis worked hard to get the opportunity to centre and Ryan Thomson timed his run to get his head on the cross but directed his effort wide left. On 31 minutes it looked inevitable that Saints would get a second but Thompson`s header back across the box for McLean was twice kept out by the magnificent Paul Gallacher.
Pressure continued to be piled on the Pars defence, Van Zanten nearly getting on the end of another neat Goodwin chip until a Willis free kick and subsequent Burns run into the box took the visitors upfield. Two crosses in from the right by Willis kept Samson deployed. Indeed the keeper did really well to deny Andy Kirk who was on the end of another Willis free kick after Buchanan was fouled by Mair.
It had been a first half in which the Fifers had endured a considerable amount of pressure but the final ten minutes certainly belonged to the visitors and there looked as though there was still all to play for as the teams headed toards the break. But as the game went into added time McCann was caught on the right by Thompson and the striker`s cross was touched past Gallacher at his near post by HASSELBAINK..
Half time: St Mirren 2 Dunfermline 0
Dunfermline got the second 45 underway but within two minutes John Potter required the physios treatment after falling awkwardly in the six yard box. The former Saint was able to continue and Buchanan forced a thrown down at the right corner flag to rouse the very vocal away support but the home defence held firm.
The first real chance of the second period fell to Hasselbaink and he pulled his shot from the edge of the box wide left. Carey troubled on the left and his perseverance allowed a cross to McLean at the far post but the striker despatched the ball over the crossbar. McGowan then displayed some great control to burst past defenders and shoot to the right post but Gallacher held easily.
In 59 minutes Jim McIntyre made a double substitution when Andrew Barrowman and Joe Cardle replaced Liam Buchanan and Paddy Boyle. Gall made a good save at his near post as Carey drove in a free kick low from the right.
A Dunfermline goal in 62 minutes raised many questions around the ground. Samson failed to take a CARDLE shot but as the ball came back off the post the keeper, under prssure from Barrowman, deflected the ball back into his own net. No one was very sure who would be given the credit but hey, who cares. The goal lifted the Pars and their support behind the goal.
Willis powered over a free kick, long throw and a corner as the pressure was applied. The Dunfermline substitutions had made a difference and the final one in 72 minutes was Steven McDougall for Andy Kirk. A 76th minute corner - St Mirren`s second of the second half was sent in from the left by McLean and McAusland glanced a header beyond the far post.
Apart from a McDougall / Cardle attack Dunfermline were pegged back as St Mirren had chances from more corners. In 82 minutes a classic Cardle run carved out a shooting chance and only a superb save from Samson stopped Super Joe`s netbound shot.
Danny Lennon threw on Gary Teale and he made an impact pressing his side up the park. The odd chance that then came the Pars way bounced in front of Samson but Willis failed to get in for a heroic touch. Thomson also had an opportunity but hit his shot narrowly over the crossbar from 18 yards.
There were three minutes added for stoppages and in the second one Willis won a corner down on the right. The ball came back out to Graham but his looping shot from 20 yards dropped wide left. It had been a valiant Pars performance in the second half but the points were to remain in Paisley.
ST MIRREN: Craig Samson; Lee Mair, Jeroen Tesselaar, Marc McAusland, David van Zanten: Kenny McLean, Steven Thomson (Graham Carey 18, (Ilias Haddad 75)), James Goodwin, Nigel Hasselbaink, Steven Thompson, Paul McGowan (Gary Teale 84).
SUBS NOT USED: Graeme Smith, David Barron, Joe McKee, Thomas Reilly,
SCORER: McLean (25), Hasselbaink (45+1)
YELLOW CARD: Hasselbaink (73)
DUNFERMLINE: Paul Gallacher, John Potter, Alex Keddie, Austin McCann (c); Paul Willis, Ryan Thomson, Paul Burns, David Graham, Paddy Boyle (Joe Cardle 59); Andy Kirk (Steven McDougall 72), Liam Buchanan (Andrew Barrowman 59).
SUBS NOT USED: Chris Smith (GK), Shaun Byrne, Kerr Young, Ross Drummond.
SCORER: Cardle (62)
YELLOW CARD: Thomson (71)
WEATHER: Overcast 12C
NEXT MATCH: (home) SPL v Aberdeen
Saturday 26th November, kick off 3:00pm
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Ladbrokes Championship: Saturday 18th March, Dunfermline v Ayr United kick off 3.00pm