SPFL League One:: STENHOUSEMUIR 1 DUNFERMLINE 0: 15//11:14
Jim Jefferies team was on the road for the third successive match and for the second time in those three it was back to Ochilview Park. The Pars were hoping that they could repeat their comfortable Scottish Cup victory over East Stirlingshire with a win over their ground sharing partners, Stenhousemuir.
The only change in the Pars squad from that at Peterhead the previous Saturday was the return of Josh Falkingham who took Lewis Martin's place on the bench. Lewis turned out for the Scotland Under 19s the previous day.
Stenhousemuir made four changes from the side that lost 2-0 to Airdrieonians; in came Ross Meechan, Jamie Reid, Kris Faulds and Gary Oliver. It was second top Pars who kicked off against second bottom Stenny and we could only hope that the home side would find Faissal El Bakhtaoui just as tough as their stadium announced found it getting to grips with his name!
Dunfermline immediately got into an impressive passing game with Alex Whittle and Lewis Spence combining to send Michael Moffat down the left and then Andy Geggan setting up Ross Forbes for the first shot of the afternoon that keeper Greg Fleming dropped on one knee to gather.
In sixth minute Geggan was put through and had a good chance but his right footed shot was well stopped by the former Pars keeper. Whittle then caused Stenny some difficulty down the left but his neat flick to Forbes found his team mate in an offside position. Ryan Scully was being kept involved but primarily sweeping up overhit passes and passbacks.
Moffat and El Bakhtaoui linked well in 13 minutes but when the Frenchman fed the ball out right to Ross Millen his return was too strong. Whittle forced the Pars first corner in 14th minute. Millen sent that in from the left but Fleming fisted that away. Play continued towards the home goal and Forbes tried an early effort that rocketed over the bar.
Forbes was then given an opportunity from a free kick awarded when Ross McMillan was late in on El Bakhtaoui but he drover that into the Stenny wall. At the other end Scully made his first save as Sean Dickson got in a shot from the edge of the box.
In 21minutes Stenhousemuir came extremely close to opening the scoring. Meechan was given space to run into on the right and when he crossed Kris Faulds turned a powerful shot at goal only for the ball to come back off the underside of Scully's crossbar.
McMenamin forced the home side's first corner on the half hour and when that came in from the right Scully came twice to try and take a poorly cleared attempt by Spence and the Pars got lucky when the crossbar again saved them. The Warriors could take heart as slowly but surely they were getting into the game.
Stenny's Gary Oliver was then presented with the ball and as he drew the Pars defence released the ball to McMenamin to his right and the no.9 beat the keeper only for the base of the left goalpost to keep the ball out.
Lewis Spence was forced to retire in 35 minutes with what looked like a hamstring problem meaning Josh Falkingham was introduced slightly earlier than was anticipated. Stenny were unlucky in 39 minutes when Reid sent over a good cross from a corner on the left that McMillan just failed to get his head to and Buchanan headed behind. Thankfully Scully grabbed the subsequent corner.
Whittle created and just failed to convert as Fleming came out towards him. Falkingham's good delivery from the right byeline was cut out by Lithgow and then El Bakhtaoui got a half chance that he crashed over the bar from an angle on the right.
Shaun Byrne and then Falkingham tried shots from 25 yards out, the first was blocked and the second travelled across goal and out on the left. Millen launched a free kick in from the left touchline in the second added minute of the half and although Stuart Urquhart got close to heading the ball on Stenny survived.
Maybe a wee bit lucky at the break that the woodwork kept Stenhousemuir out. After a very lively start the Pars had let their opponents into the match. The introduction of Falkingham seemed to inject some urgency but yet again it was a goalless first half.
Stenhousemuir 0 Dunfermline 0
El Bakhtaoui earned an early free kick with his flight of feet down the right but when Forbes sent the ball into the box it was well defended. After McMenamin collected a yellow card for a late challenge, Millen lobbed another free kick into the box this time from the right but again to no effect.
Six minutes into the half Falkingham was given the chance but Fleming parried away the ball and then Forbes powered in the rebound only for Fleming to again beat the ball away. Next Geggan and Moffat combined to lay the ball off for Whittle on the edge of the box but again the defence came out on top.
Andy Stirling replaced Ross Forbes just before the hour mark but within two minutes McMenamin's shoulder charge felled Scully and Ryan Goodfellow had to come on as Dunfermline's final sub of the afternoon.
Play was stopped again after Meechan had to receive treatment before Millen sent over a corner from the left then El Bakhtaoui and Falkingham tried a short taken one from the right but still the Pars could not test Fleming.
At the other end Oliver gave Goodfellow a save to make but it was an easy one to take but then on 71 minutes McMenamin produced a cross from the right that FAULDS swept past a fairly helpless sub keeper. 1-0
A Pars corner in from the left three minutes later was defended by McMenamin's header. Next Stirling got round the defence on the right and cut across an inviting ball that Duncan got away before it reached any Dunfermline players.
Stenny got very deep and Dunfermline enjoyed the space. Stirling buzzed around the area and El Bakhtaoui hung on to possession to give Urquhart a chance but it came to him too quickly to convert.
Stenhousemuir were denied a second goal in 86 minutes when Goodfellow came out quick and strong to take the ball off the feet of McMenamin. There was likely to be a good number of minutes added for stoppages and substitutions so the Pars kept trying hard to break down their opponents rear guard.
In 94th minute Josh Falkingham got to the right byeline and chipped an inviting ball across the face of goal where Moffat got his head to it but directed the ball unbelievably wide left.
It was to be the Warriors first win over Dunfermline in 13 games, their first win over the Fifers since September 1984.
STENHOUSEMUIR: Greg Fleming; Ross Meechan (Robbie Duncan 68), Stewart Greacen, Ross McMillan (c), Alan Lithgow; Jamie Reid (Gregor Fotheringham 78), Kris Faulds, Kieran Millar, Sean Dickson (Tom Walsh 78); Colin McMenamin, Gary Oliver
SUBS NOT USED: Ciaran Summers, Josh Watt, Fraser Eddington, Chris Smith (GK)
SCORERS: Faulds (71)
YELLOW CARD: McMillan (16), McMenamin (47), Millar (58), Oliver (95)
DUNFERMLINE: Ryan Scully (Ryan Goodfellow 64); Ross Millen, Gregor Buchanan, Stuart Urquhart, Alex Whittle; Shaun Byrne, Lewis Spence (Josh Falkingham 36), Andy Geggan (c), Ross Forbes (Andy Stirling 59); Faissal El Bakhtaoui, Michael Moffat
SUBS NOT USED: Ryan Thomson, Chigozie Ugwu, Allan Smith, Ryan Williamson.
YELLOW CARD: Urquhart (81)
REFEREE: Nick Walsh
WEATHER: Dry 9C
NEXT MATCH: SPFL (home) v Stirling Albion
Saturday 22nd November, kick off 3.00pm at East End Park
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