SFL Div One: AIRDRIE UNITED 3 DUNFERMLINE 3 : Date: 09/03/13
Dunfermline met an Airdrie team for the 100th time in their history unsure whether there would be another. For the 180 or so Pars fans looking around the Excelsior Stadium many would spare the thought 'is this the way our Club is going?' but for 90 minutes thankfully it was back to being concerned about on the field events rather than those off the field.
Jim Jefferies was without Andy Geggan and Jordan McMillan through suspension. Injuries denied him of Stephen Jordan, Josh Falkingham, Shaun Byrne and Andy Barrowman. Joe Cardle and Andy Kirk found themselves relegated to the bench meaning Ross Millen, John Potter, Stephen Husband and Alex Whittle started.
Gavin Griffin, Marc Warren and Liam Watt dropped out of the Airdrie team to make way for Ryan Donnelly, Grant Evans and Willie McLaren.
The visitors kicked off through Craig Dargo and Ryan Wallace but it was their keeper who was first into serious action parrying away a tricky ball into his six yard box within two minutes. The Pars threatened two minutes later from a Wallace free kick fed right for Dargo to turn back in but Callum Morris' attempt from close range was blocked.
In seven minutes Husband got around the Airdrie defence to fire a useful ball through the six yard box with Dargo luckless in his efforts to turn the ball in. Next Husband released a shot from 25 yards that taxed on loan keeper Robbie Thomson. Then just as the Pars looked like taking a grip of the match an Airdrie cross from Willie McLaren on the left was perfect for Nathan BLOCKLEY to ghost in and head the Diamonds into an eleventh minute lead. 1-0
An Airdrie corner in 17 minutes was headed on target by John Boyle but Paul Gallacher held easily. McLaren kept up the pressure from a corner, this time from the right. That did not cause a problem but then a ball from the left was headed at goal by Gregor Buchanan and Gallacher had to concede yet another corner.
The Fifers got back in the game at the midway stage of the first half. Wallace ran over a free kick 25 yards out leaving it for Stephen HUSBAND to rocket a low ball through the four man wall and into the bottom left of Thomson's goal 1-1
Dunfermline then had a good period of possession with Ross Millen getting in two dangerous crosses from the right and Chris Kane and Ryan Wallace doing their best to split the Airdrie defence. On 35 minutes Ryan Thomson was then unlucky not to do better with his near post header from a Wallace corner.
Eight minutes before the interval Morris did well to deny Boyle a shot but really the Fifers were on top and Dargo's cross was met first time by Wallace but his good effort from 18 yards slipped narrowly wide right. Chris O'Neill headed a Dowie cross out for a corner on the left and that was followed by one from the right. Whittle's return was clipped behind by Buchanan but despite incessant pressure there was no return from it.
In 44 minutes another Husband free kick from 25 yards beat the Airdrie wall but was stopped by the thigh of Blockley. It had been a better 45 minutes from the Pars who did not appear to let the off field problems affect them.
Half time: Airdrie United 1 Dunfermline 1
Airdrie began the second half strongly but it was Wallace on the counterattack that created the first opportunity of the period, racing away from Lamie from just inside the Pars half. Dargo was taken by surprise in 48 minutes when his team mate sent a good diagonal ball into the box. Next Wallace popped up on left but again failed to find Dargo with his cut back.
A 53rd minute free kick led to Airdrie regaining the lead. The defence appeared to freeze when the ball came in from the right and DONNELLY smashed the ball into the Pars net. 2-1
In 63 minutes Husband slipped a good pass to Wallace who turned his man and drove a great shot that Thomson did equally well to keep out but in their efforts to convert the loose ball Dargo and Evans collided requiring both teams' physios to come on. The Pars man was able to continue but David Lilley replaced the injured defender.
As the game entered its final quarter Dowie directed his header on a Wallace corner wide of the far post. Andy Kirk then became Jim Jefferies first sub of the afternoon coming on to replace Dargo for the final twenty minutes. It was the bottom of the table team however that missed a gilt edged opportunity from a powerful Bain cross that Donnelly got closest to. Then McLaren did get a shot on target in 77 minutes but Gallacher produced a fine save to keep the deficit at just one goal. Joe Cardle came on for Millen two minutes later for Dunfermline to mount a push.
Whittle fired a shot over the bar and it would be Airdrie who found the net again in 85 minutes, Willie McLAREN controlling a crossed ball to fire it in at the right post. 3-1 Ryan WALLACE struck back right away next minute with a fantastic strike from out on the right. 3-2.
The momentum was then with the Pars and 85th minute sub Allan Smith made a fine run down the left and his good work set up Andy KIRK who rammed in the equaliser in 91 minutes. Two late goals again for Dunfermline at the Excelsior Stadium but this time only enough to come away with a draw against a side that has not won a home game since 11th August.
AIRDRIE UNITED: Robbie Thomson; Chris O'Neill (Jack Boyle 79), Ricki Lamie, Gregor Buchanan, Grant Evans (David Lilley 66), Jamie Bain, Willie McLaren, John Boyle (Jordan Moore 59), Steven Hetherington, Nathan Blockley, Ryan Donnelly
SUBS NOT USED: Kenny Arthur, Liam Coggans.
SCORERS: Blockley (11), Donnelly (53), McLaren (85)
YELLOW CARD: O'Neill (75)
DUNFERMLINE: Paul Gallacher; Ross Millen (Joe Cardle 79), Andy Dowie (c), John Potter, Callum Morris, Alex Whittle; Chris Kane (Allan Smith 85), Ryan Thomson, Stephen Husband, Craig Dargo (Andy Kirk 70), Ryan Wallace,
SUBS NOT USED: Grant Munro, Michael Hrivnak (GK).
SCORER: Husband (22), Wallace (86), Kirk (91)
REFEREE: Crawford Allan
WEATHER: Dull 3C
NEXT MATCH: (away) First Division v Raith Rovers
Saturday 16th March 2013, kick off 3.00pm
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Ladbrokes Championship: Saturday 22nd April, Dunfermline v Falkirk kick off 3.00pm