SPL v Kilmarnock
DUNFERMLINE 1 KILMARNOCK 1 Date: 07/02/12
Attendance: 2303, Kick Off: 3:00pm.
Referee: Calum Murray
On loan goalkeeper Iain Turner sustained a back injury in the warm up meaning Chris Smith stepped in to the team at the last minute. Dunfermline subsequently took the field with no substitute keeper on the bench. There were four other changes from the team that lost at Pittodrie. Gary Mason dropped out, Ryan Thomson, Andy Dowie and Paul Willis were relegated to the bench. In to the team came new signings Jordan McMillan and Kyle Hutton while Paul Burns and Andy Kirk also returned.
Kilmarnock made one change from the side that lost at Easter Road in the Scottish Cup on Saturday; Lewis Toshney, on loan from Celtic took the place of James Dayton.
Dunfermline attacked the goal at the Cowdenbeath end as they faced a Kilmarnock team that had won just two matches in their last twenty away games. Apart from a marginal offside decision against Liam Buchanan the opening ten minutes were a tentative affair as the sides sized each other up.
The first attempt at goal came in 14 minutes when Andy Kirk turned and sent the ball over the crossbar from 25 yards. Then two minutes later Buchanan sprung Manuel Pascali on the right side of the defence and flashed a low ball through the six yard box. The ball broke to David Graham but his effort was headed away by James Fowler.
The same Kilmarnock player was to make an impact in the opposite box in 21st minute when a Toshney cross was defended out only as far as FOWLER who drove the ball through a busy penalty box and past Smith. The visitors duly found themselves a goal up which many would describe against the run of play.
Hearts were in the mouth when Gordon stole the ball off Burns. The break down the left fed Dean Shiels and he had a one on one with Smith but the keeper came out on top. In 27 minutes Buchanan forced the first corner of the match but Killie cleared.
Then in 31 minutes Graham and Burns had chances in the box but the visitors kept the Pars out. Dunfermline were creating without testing the red shirted Cammy Bell. Ten minutes from the break Kilmarnock had a good chance to extend their lead. Shiels might have shot as he broke through on the left but Boyle slid in bravely as the Killie striker tried to find Paul Heffernan in front of goal.
Smith dropped to his left in 37 minutes to hold a Shiels effort. Two minutes later a Toshney cross from the right picked out Danny Racchi and he sent a crisp shot over the crossbar. Dunfermline created their own threat from a McMillan thrown in level with the penalty spot but despite good close play by Buchanan Killie ushered the ball out.
Then in 44 minutes Burns pass to Graham was switched swiftly on for KIRK to net at the far post as Bell came racing out in vain. The goal was no less than the Pars deserved for a good first half in which it was commonly acknowledged that both goals were possibly scored by the team who were not on top at the time.
Half Time: Dunfermline 1 Kilmarnock 1
Kilmarnock got the second half underway and the early pressure came from their corner from the left. Shiels delivery gave Michael Nelson no fewer than three goes at goal but the Pars defence blocked each time. Then a loose cross gave Smith the jitters and he had a nervy moment as he decided to kick instead of holding the ball. Shiels was nudged off the ball in the box by Hutton but that was adjudged to be good defending.
In 52 minutes Buchanan broke through into the left side of the box but the angle was narrowing all the time and his shot beat the keeper only to slip wide of the far post. Kilmarnock sent good balls into the box with Toshney in particular producing quality crosses.
On 58 minutes Smith pulled off a great block when Heffernan intercepted Kirk`s pass back. Rutkiewicz did well in closing down the Killie striker but the save certainly kept his team in the game. Sadly the big goalkeeper followed that up with a far from convincing kick that he scuffed across the penalty box.
First substitution of the night was made by the visitors, a Belgian for a Welshman - Dieter Van Tornhout for Danny Racchi in 61 minutes. Smith then pulled off another good save from Heffernan after a fine move sweeping forward from Ben Gordon through Fowler. The Pars first tactical substitution followed that with birthday boy Joe Cardle coming on for Paul Burns with David Graham switching to the right.
Hutton made a superb interception on a Shiels cross that Heffernan was arriving to convert. Liam Kelly had the next chance but from 22 yards he smacked the ball high into the empty East Stand. A Boyle ball into the back post created enough threat for Pascali to push Kirk but there was to be no penalty kick before at the other end another save from Smith at his near post kept Shiels cross out.
In 73 minutes Heffernan`s cross from the right was set up for Van Tornhout but McMillan got a touch to send the ball over for a corner. The Pars survived that as they did Boyle`s challenge on an opponent on the edge of the box. Kirk had a shot from a Turnhout pass back that set him up but he sent the ball wide of the far post. A Killie free kick was sent over the bar before a double substitution with Martin Hardie and Steven McDougall replacing the Pars front two.
Hutton was yellow carded in 79 minutes for a professional foul on Shiels and then Smith made a fine save from Hay`s set piece. Killie maintained the pressure with the ball flashing through the box more than once. Mark Kerr cleared off the line and Boyle nicked the ball away from Heffernan when in a goalscoring position.
Graham made a surging run in 86 minutes and his ball to McDougall was crossed for Hardie but his header was deflected for a corner. Then it was the Fifers turn to press and Hardie got a shot in from the corner but Bell saved and the defence cleared.
Into the 90th minute Kerr conceded a free kick and collected a yellow card in the process. The game`s two added minutes changed nothing and it ended in a draw that was more welcome to the visitors than it was for the Pars. Nevertheless given the amount of chances that the Ayrshire side produced in the second half a draw was gratefully accepted.
DUNFERMLINE: Chris Smith; Jordan McMillan, Kevin Rutkiewicz, Alex Keddie, Paddy Boyle; Paul Burns (Joe Cardle 64), Mark Kerr, Kyle Hutton, David Graham, Liam Buchanan (Martin Hardie 80), Andy Kirk (Steven McDougall 80)
SUBS NOT USED: Andy Dowie, Ryan Thomson, Paul Willis,
SCORER: Kirk (44)
YELLOW CARD: Hutton (79), Kerr (90)
KILMARNOCK: Cameron Bell; Lewis Toshney, Michael Nelson, Manuel Pascali, Ben Gordon, James Fowler, Garry Hay, Danny Racchi (Dieter Van Tornhout 61), Liam Kelly, Dean Shiels, Paul Heffernan (James Dayton 82).
SUBS NOT USED: Rory McKeown, Kyle Letheren, Matthew Kennedy, Zdenek Kroca, Mohamadou Sissoko.
SCORER: Fowler (21)
WEATHER: Fine 1C
50/50 Draw winning number: 45733: Prize worth £352
NEXT MATCH: (home) SPL v Rangers
Saturday 11th February 2012, kick off 12 noon
Ladbrokes Championship: Saturday 18th March, Dunfermline v Ayr United kick off 3.00pm