League Cup: ST MIRREN 2 DUNFERMLINE 1: 26/08/14
Two changes in the Pars side for the trip to St Mirren Park for the League Cup tie against the Buddies. It was the first time that the teams have met in this competition since September 2008 when Dunfermline won 2-0 against a St Mirren team that included John Potter.
Faissal el Bakhtaoui (ankle) and Ross Drummond (twisted ankle) were out, Ryan Williamson and Ryan Thomson came into the starting eleven. There were four changes in the home side from that which lost at home to Dundee on Saturday. Steven Thompson returned to captain the side and there were starts as well for Ellis Plummer, Isacc Osbourne and Gregg Wylde.
The Pars kicked off with the late eveing sun at their backs but the early play was all with the home team. Josh Falkingham had an early warning for a very rash tackle but after five minutes the Pars were able to push up and earned a free kick on the right. Falkingham floated that in but Marian Kello was out quick to hold.
In seventh minute Wylde flashed the ball across the Pars box and Thompson came close to connecting. Even when Adam Drury returned the ball there was a job to be done with Lewis Martin clearing. A Kenny McLean challenge on Falkingham then handed the Pars a free kick 15 yards into the opposition half. Ross Millen sent the ball into the Saints box and it dropped nicely for Lewis SPENCE to stick it away in the bottom left. 0-1
The 250 or so travelling support broke into song and enjoyed St Mirren's lame attempts to break down the Fifers defence. Another free kick this time for Thomson being sandwiched between two opponents offered Millen another opportunity to pump the ball into the Saints box but Kello punched the ball away.
Next a run from Williamson set up Chigozie Ugwu but the defence closed him out quickly. Ugwu blocked a clearance and Moffat grabbed the chance to shoot and his effort escaped narrowly wide left. On 20 minutes Millen slid in on John McGinn to concede a corner but when that came in from the left he met the ball with a firm header. Two minutes later Millen headed behind for safety and yet again the Pars defended the corner successfully.
St Mirren continued to press and when a ball came over from the left Buchanan's header dropped for Drury and when he shot from 12 yards the crossbar came to Dunfermline's assistance. The visitors were permitted to pass the ball around and even as early as 25 minutes into the game the home support were beginning to vent their frustrations.
As the sun went down and the floodlights came on, St Mirren pushed up giving Dunfermline more defensive work which they dealt well enough with, albeit rather doggedly at times. Pressure was taken off when Spence was fouled and then Eli Plummer denied Ugwu a shot at goal although he was annoyed his keeper hadn't come for the ball.
The Pars first corner was won by Moffat in 37 minutes and the 'ring a ring of roses' tactic was deployed but Kello fisted clear Millen's cross. On 40 minutes after Ugwu had headed into the box Moffat charged down Kello's kick and won another corner from the left that again Kello punched away.
Two minutes from the break St Mirren got the break of the ball as Millen blocked and Martin pulled off a tremendous tackle to prevent John McGinn advancing in the right side of the box. There was a fright when a long range shot was beaten down by Scully only to have two Buddies buzz round about him but between them Martin and Buchanan scrambled the ball away and the Pars went in ahead at the interval with the stats crediting them with 55% possession in the first half.
Half Time: St Mirren 0 Dunfermline 1
Saints manager Tommy Craig made two substitutions before the restart with Steven Thompson and Isaac Osbourne withdrawn to be replaced by Ross Caldwell and Calum Ball. The move proved to be a masterstroke with CALDWELL cutting in and whacking the equaliser past Scully in 50th minute.
Within two minutes Thomson slipped Ugwu a great chance and Kello was a little lucky to divert the strikers effort round his near post. Geggan headed over from the resultant corner and then Moffat fired wide right moments later. Moffat got in on the right and his pass across the face of goal was grabbed by Kello as Ugwu and Thomson challenged.
A foul by Plummer on Spence led to a free kick in a central position midway into the Saints half and although Millen picked out Buchanan his header did not test the keeper. Thomson had a shot blocked on 18 yards before Williamson won a 58th minute corner. Kello fisted out and then held a lob pitched back in.
Scully then pulled off a magnificent save as Calum Ball looked certain to score. St Mirren continued to fight and give as good as they got. McLean was next to test Scully as the advantage continued to be with the Buddies. Buchanan lost out to Caldwell on half way and hitting on the break, Wylde drove the shot into the sidenetting on the right.
Midway into the second half great close control from Moffat allowed the ball to be sent out to Williamson on the right and Saints were relieved to see their man rise to head clear. Thomson won a corner on the left in 70th minute and Kello again fisted away Millen's inswinger. Then when Moffat crossed from the left Falkingham came close to getting the necessary touch just six yards out.
A Ugwu run won another corner but Thomson glanced his header outside the far post. Wylde was then wild at the other end after St Mirren broke away despite it looking like Spence should have been awarded a free kick. Falkingham accepted a Thomson pass on the edge of the box and whizzed a shot inches wide of the right upright.
In 78 minutes Moffat dispossessed the right back and fed Ugwu the chance but he was closed down and Falkingham too couldn't get in a shot. It was a cruel blow when the home side scored to go ahead for the first time on the night with just ten minutes remaining. They appeared to barge their way through the middle to feed CALDWELL the ball and he crashed it past Scully. 2-1
Andy Stirling, one time a youth player at St Mirren came on for Ryan Thomson and then Ross Forbes replaced Andy Geggan. St Mirren had to contend with a superb run from Williamson to win a 90th minute corner. Come on ye Pars was the chant from behind the goal but St Mirren headed clear. Scully came up for another corner at the very end but the Premier League side hung on for the two added minutes.
A great show from JJ's men who will gain great confidence from this show and were desperately unlucky to lose.
ST MIRREN: Marian Kello; Jason Naismith, Marc McAusland, Ellis Plummer, Jeroen Tesselar; Adam Drury, John McGinn, Kenny McLean, Isaac Osbourne (Calum Ball HT); Steven Thompson (c)(Ross Caldwell HT), Gregg Wylde
SUBS NOT USED: Mark Ridgers, Gary Teale, Thomas Reilly, Sean Kelly, Adam Brown
SCORERS: Caldwell (59, 80)
DUNFERMLINE: Ryan Scully; Ryan Williamson, Lewis Martin, Gregor Buchanan, Ross Millen; Andy Geggan (c)(Ross Forbes 87), Lewis Spence, Josh Falkingham, Ryan Thomson (Andy Stirling 83); Michael Moffat, Chigozie Ugwu.
SUBS NOT USED: Shaun Byrne, Stuart Urquhart, Allan Smith, Jonathan Page, Ryan Goodfellow (GK)
SCORERS: Spence (9)
YELLOW CARD: Falkingham (10), Spence (59)
REFEREE: Steven McLean
WEATHER: Fine 19C
NEXT MATCH: SPFL League One (away) v Stranraer
Saturday 30th August 2014, kick off 3.00pm
Ladbrokes Championship: Saturday 18th March, Dunfermline v Ayr United kick off 3.00pm