SPFL League One: STENHOUSEMUIR 0 DUNFERMLINE 1: 21/03/15
Dunfermline made five changes for the return to Ochilview Park for the League One fixture against Stenhousemuir. In came Gregor Buchanan, Alex Whittle, Josh Falkingham, Andy Barrowman and Faissal El Bakhtaoui taking the places of Stuart Urquhart, Paul George, Lewis Spence, Michael Moffat and Lewis Allan. Kyle McAusland retained his place in defence which lined up three at the back.
The Pars opponents were Stenhousemuir, the team just below them in the table in eighth place. Brown Ferguson named an unchanged starting eleven and bench as they tried to escape from the threat of the League One play offs.
The home side kicked off but the Pars were soon on the attack with El Bakhtaoui sending in a ball to the near post that Barrowman almost finished, then Ross Millen sent over a ball from the right that David Hopkirk came close to converting. In fourth minute Whittle broke through on the left but Ciaran Summers cleared his cross. Next minute a diagonal ball aimed at Hopkirk was well cut out by Jamie McCormack.
Andy Geggan collected the first yellow card of the afternoon in 12th minute when he cut down striker Colin McMenamin. The Fifers successfully defended the free kick and at the other end threatened when El Bakhtaoui's cut back picked out Geggan but failed to get sufficient power on his shot to do the necessary damage.
Best shot of the game so far was in 16 minutes when 19 year old left back Summers ran on to a chance on the left and Scully saved with his outstretched left hand. Two minutes later Josh Watt sent over a corner from the right but the defence mopped that up.
At the midway point in the first half El Bakhtaoui earned a free kick on the right byeline and when Hopkirk chipped that in Buchanan's header as held by Greg Fleming at the left upright. Stenhousemuir had absorbed a fair measure of pressure but created an opening with Paul McMullan testing Scully with a powerful shot.
Dunfermline's response was an El Bakhtaoui shot from 25 yards that Fleming held diving to his right. McMenamin was awarded a fairly tame free kick in 28 minutes and McMullan made Scully palm the 40 yard attempt over his crossbar. From the short taken corner on the left McMullan screamed one outside the far post.
Kieran Millar was shown yellow when he brought Falkingham's run to an abrupt end on the edge of the box. Hopkirk's free kick was met by Buchanan's head but the ball ended up on the roof of the goals.
Five minutes from the break McMullan sent a free kick from the left across the Pars goal but sub Gregor Fotheringham could only send the ball crashing into the stand. There was a great chance to alter things before half time when in 44 minutes Hopkirk picked out El Bakhtaoui in front of goal but Fleming was able to save the effort. It had been another opening 45 minutes that Dunfermline had dominated but had nothing to show for it.
Half Time: Stenhousemuir 0 Dunfermline 0
The Pars kicked the second half off and forced a corner within 40 seconds. When that came over from ther left Stenny defended but in 47 minutes the next ball from the left, again from the boot of Hopkirk found EL BAKHTAOUI and he fired his shot low to the left of the keeper. 0-1
The Warriors had a chance almost immediately but Whittle blocked Millar's shot from 15 yards out. A Pars free kick in 52 minutes saw Geggan race in to attack Millen's delivery but in a crowded box he failed to get contact. The ball was not cleared however and Barrowman got a chance to challenge at the left post but Fleming prevented him the goal and then Geggan was penalised for trying again.
On the hour Stenhousemuir brought on Martin Grehan for Millar and the one time Dundonald Bluebell came close to being an instant hit with a glancing header on a McMullan free kick. in 64 minutes McMullan went down in a challenge from Whittle and from the 25 yard setpiece McMullan again tested Scully who stopped the ball hitting the right right corner.
McAusland was next to be subject of anotherr soft free kick decision as he tackle Grehan and this time McMullan played a low ball towards the right side of the Pars penalty box that the Fifers defence dealt with.
Kris Faulds was booked when Whittle beat him for the second time as the Liverpudlian worked a route down the left. From the subsequent free kick Geggan raced in to meet Millen's cross but was foiled again. Next Fleming came out on top when in 75 minutes Barrowman was through one on one with him.
Five minutes later a left footed cross from Millen was turned back across goal by Hopkirk but the strikers could not get on the end of the chance. Then in 82 minutes Lewis Martin was deemed to have handled the ball and referee Craig Charleston pointed to the penalty spot. League One's top goalscorer, Colin McMenamin, stepped up and stroked the ball to the right side of the goal. Scully went the right way and parried the shot for his defence to mop up. Phew!
The Warriors battled on but none of their attempts troubled Scully although as the home side battled for a last gasp goal McAusland made a crucial block on McMenamin. The win lifted Dunfermline to fifth place just three points behind Brechin City in fourth.
STENHOUSEMUIR: Greg Fleming; Jamie McCormack, Ross Meechan, Alan Lithgow, Ciaran Summers; Paul McMullan, Josh Watt, Kieran Millar (Martin Grehan 59), Kris Faulds, Anthony Marenghi (Gregor Fotheringham 36), Colin McMenamin.
SUBS NOT USED: Lee Gallacher, Robbie Duncan, Kai Wilson, Craig Sutherland, Chris Smith (GK).
YELLOW CARD: Millar (32), Summers (68), Faulds (72)
DUNFERMLINE: Ryan Scully; Gregor Buchanan, Kyle McAusland, Lewis Martin; Ross Millen, Josh Falkingham (c), Andy Geggan (Declan O'Kane 90), David Hopkirk (Lewis Allan 80), Alex Whittle; Faissal El Bakhtaoui (Lewis Spence 86), Andy Barrowman.
SUBS NOT USED: Shaun Byrne, Paul George, Michael Moffat, Ryan Goodfellow (GK)
SCORERS: El Bakhtaoui (47)
YELLOW CARD: Geggan (12), Falkingham (37)
REFEREE: Craig Charleston
WEATHER: Sunny 10C
NEXT MATCH: SPFL League One: (Home) v Morton
Saturday 28th March 2015, kick off 3:00pm
Ladbrokes Championship: Saturday 22nd April, Dunfermline v Falkirk kick off 3.00pm