SPFL League One: DUNFERMLINE 1 STIRLING ALBION 1: 14/03/15
For the visit of bottom of the table Stirling Albion, John Potter stuck by the same starting eleven that had success over Ayr United the previous Saturday. It was the first time since mid November that the Pars had gone with the same again. The only change was to their bench; Ryan Williamson, Declan O'Kane, Ryan Thomson drop out and Gregor Buchanan, Josh Falkingham and Alex Whittle returned to take their places.
Stirling manager Stuart McLaren made four changes to his starting eleven after their most recent match against Morton. Lewis Coult, Sandy Cunningham and former Ayr defender Kevin McKinlay came in for Angus Beith, Andy Stirling and Ross Forsyth while between one former Par keeper replaced another, Callum Reidford being preferred to Greg Paterson. Conditions of Par Andy Stirling's loan to the Forthbank club were that he could not play in this fixture.
The Pars kicked off against opponents seeking not just their first league win at East End Park since April 1993 but also what would be their third league win of the 2014-2015 season. Athletic attacked from the kick off with Andy Geggan belting the ball up the left for David Hopkirk to chase but the Binos snuffed that one out.
Phil Johnson beat his man on the right and sent over a cross that Coult touched on for Gordon Smith at the far post but Ross Millen conceded the sixth minute corner to clear the threat. Stirling's corner was dangerous but the defence cleared. It took the home team some time to get to grips with the match as Stirling enjoyed plenty of early possession. Hopkirk tried to cut in from the left but his cross was blocked and it was back into the Bionos control.
A Stirling free kick in 12 minutes was pumped towards the right side of the Pars penalty box and when Willie Robertson took the nod down he drove a shot on target from 20 yards that Ryan Scully had to dive to his left to beat away.
Dunfermline then had a chance of their own in the next minute. Yet again Hopkirk was the creator and it looked as though Lewis Allan would score from six yards but central defender Chris Smith dived in to block the flick on.
Another Stirling free kick in 17 minutes this time from the left, required Scully again to keep out a netbound effort as Cunningham diverted the ball on target. There was disquiet from the stands as George appeared to take an arm in the face as McKinlay tackled the former Celtic youth.
It was McKinlay's high diagonal ball towards Coult that opened up the next opportunity but Gordon Smith failed to hit the target. Next there was disappointment at the other end when Spence fed Hopkirk on the edge of the box but instead of shooting he opted to pass inside for Spence and he was dispossessed before he could pull the trigger on a shot. Reidford had then to be fast off his line when Allan threatened to break into the right side of the box.
As the first half hour passed Stirling had to be pleased with their efforts. They drove a 30 yard free kick into the one man Pars wall but kept up the pressure with another on the right touchline just 15 yards from the corner flag. Adam Cummin came very close with a header at the back post and the ball sailed narrowly past that post.
The home support was growing increasingly frustrated and thatr didn't change as Hopkirk, Moffat and Allan failed to take an advantage. The groans had only just receded when Moffat latched on to the ball on the left side of the Stirling box but his shot bounced over off the crossbar.
Josh Falkingham replaced Paul George with ten minutes until half time but still the visitors pegged the Fifers back. Ross McGeachie was forced by Allan into conceding a corner in 43 minutes but Reidford held Hopkirk's inswinger at his back post.
Another corner this time from the right was headed away by Chris Smith but Moffat robbed possession back but when he fed Hopkirk to centre again Smith mopped up once more. There was to be one more chance before the half time whistle but Stirling's defence cleared as Geggan raced in to try and meet a Hopkirk cross.
Half time: Dunfermline 0 Stirling Albion 0
Stirling got the second half underway and still they gave their opponents little time to dweell on the ball. Hopkirk's 48th minute shot across goal and wide right was the first attempt and then after McGeachie had blatantly barged Moffat off the ball a quickly taken free kick gave the Pars another start at the visitors defence but unfortunately they blotted out that.
For the first time in the match play was anchored in the Stirling final third. Moffat had an effort blocked, Reidford fisted away a Millen cross and then Moffat forced a corner on the left.
In 54 minutes Cummins was yellow carded for cutting down Spence allowing Millen to fire the 28 yard free kick over the five man wall only for Reidford to touch the attempt over his crossbar. From the resultant Hopkirk corner Urquhart returned the ball only for Coult to head off the line.
Stirling came very close from a corner on the hour when Chris Smith's header was stopped by Miillen on the line and his follow up header went wide right. Lewis Allan was withdrawn and Andy Barrowman given the opportunity to alter things with 25 minutes remaining.
Unfortunately the goal that Easst End Park wanted came at the other end. An inswinger of a corner from the left was touched on by Coult and when the ball came down off the crossbar Gordon SMITH was there to stab the ball into the Pars net from close range 0-1.
For the restart Alex Whittle replaced Lewis Spence and it was the sub who provided the cross just three minutes later from which Andy GEGGAN headed in at the far post. 1-1
In 79 minutes Hopkirk who had switched to the right side drove a good attempt on to the roof of the net. A Millen free kick on the left level with the 18 yard line was defended but within a minute the ball dropped for Barrowman 15 yards out but he blasted his shot wildly high and wide.
Into the final five minutes and the Pars raced to try and find the winner. Barrowman sent Hopkirk down the right and the former Annan man's delivery found Barra at the back post but his header was deflected behind. Moffat was penalised for leaning too much on Cummins as the pair tussled for the ball on the top of the box.
In 89 minutes a verty good cross from Hopkirk was met by Barrowman's glancing header but Reidford pulled off a great save to disappoint the home fans who were eager for that vital goal.
Moffat hooked a Barrowman knock down wide right in the second minute of added time and Geggan crashed a shot over the top from 20 yards in the next. In 94th minute Millen delivered a free kick from 22 yards out but referee Salmond saw some holding in the box and that was it. There was to be no last minute winner this time and it ended all square.
Elsewhere Airdrieonians defeated Morton 2-1, Peterhead won 3-0 over Brechin City and Forfar Athletic defeated Stranraer 1-0. That meant three of the four teams in the play off places lost but Dunfermline now still lie six points behind fourth placed Brechin City.
DUNFERMLINE: Ryan Scully; Ross Millen, Kyle McAusland, Lewis Martin, Stuart Urquhart; Paul George (Josh Falkingham 35), Andy Geggan (c), Lewis Spence (Alex Whittle 72), David Hopkirk, Michael Moffat, Lewis Allan (Andy Barrowman 65).
SUBS NOT USED: Shaun Byrne, Gregor Buchanan, Faissal El Bakhtaoui, Ryan Goodfellow (GK)
SCORERS: Geggan (75)
YELLOW CARD: Spence (63)
STIRLING ALBION: Callum Reidford; Ross McGeachie, Adam Cummins, Chris Smith, Kevin McKinlay (c); Willie Robertson, Craig Comrie; Phil Johnston, Sandy Cunningham, Gordon Smith (Lee Hamilton 76); Lewis Coult (Scott Shepherd 80).
SUBS NOT USED: Chris Paton, Graham Weir, Jordan Herron, Scott Davidson, Greg Paterson (GK)
SCORERS: G Smith (71)
YELLOW CARD: Cummins (54), Comrie (65)
REFEREE: George Salmond
WEATHER: Overcast 6C
NEXT MATCH: SPFL (away) v Stenhousemuir
Saturday 21st March 2015, kick off 3.00pm at Ochilview Park.
Ladbrokes Championship: Saturday 22nd April, Dunfermline v Falkirk kick off 3.00pm