SPFL League One: DUNFERMLINE 2 AYR UNITED 1: 07/03/15
East End Park welcomed back former Par Ian McCall as the manager of opponents, Ayr United. He arrived seeking points to lift them away from the play off spot at the foot of League One.
This was the first match in the last round of league matches and while taking it one game at a time, Dunfermline desperately yearn for as many points as they can muster in the quest to keep their promotion hopes alive.
Both captain and vice captain were suspended for this match. Josh Falkingham as a consequence of collecting too many yellow cards and Gregor Buchanan due to his red card at Stranraer. Into the team that drew on Tuesday night at Brechin came Stuart Urquhart, Paul George and David Hopkirk. Jim Paterson and Andy Barrowman were the other two dropping out of the starting eleven.
Ayr United made two changes with Brian Gilmour and David Robertson being promoted from the bench. Jon Paul McGovern and Peter Murphy made way for them and Alan Forrest was absent with tonscilitis.
The visitors kicked off attacking the goal at the McCathie Stand end facing a Pars team that lined up 4-4-2. Ross Millen, Kyle McAusland, Lewis Martin and Stuart Urquhart made up the back four with Michael Moffat and Lewis Allan upfront. Between them the midfield lined up Paul George, Andy Geggan, Lewis Spence and David Hopkirk.
Within three minutes Ayr created a chance, a cross in from the left just evading Robbie Crawford. Two minutes later Allan got himself into a great position breaking down the left. In the Ayr box Moffat was marked but George beyond him in loads of space was appealing for the pass that was too weak when it was executed.
From a throw in on the left, Urquhart got in a better cross after exchanging the ball with Moffat but George's header went well wide right. At the other end Crawford got in a cross from the right that fell in a dangerous area bnut thankfully the Pars defence cleared. Craig Beattie drove a 30 yard effort at Ryan Scully in 13 minutes and two minutes later headed away from Dunfermline's first corner of the afternoon.
That defensive header allowed Michael Donald to race away with George in pursuit. The 26 year old found Jordan Preston on the left side of the Pars box with his pass but the striker who is on loan from Blackburn Rovers was denied a shot by some fine defending.
Next George sent an extremely inviting ball through the Ayr six yard box but neither of the Pars strikers got the necessary touch. Then Allan got in on the left side but his neat cut back travelled behind the inrushing Moffat.
In 29 minutes a free kick 30 yards out gave Ayr a chance at goal but Adam Blakeman drove that wide right. Mofffat's progress towards the Ayr goal was abruptly stopped by David Robertson and the former Dundee United and St Johnstone mdfielder collected a yellow card in conceding a free kick on the edge of his box. McAusland and Millen lined up to take it, the latter clearing the defensive wall only to be denied by the crossbar.
The Pars were to come desperately close with their next attack. Moffat found Allan in front of goal but his shot low to the keeper's right was saved and Hopkirk's follow up was fired wide right. Minutes later Allan was in another great position on the left side of the box but with two men waiting in the middle his cross went too close to David Hutton and the keeper saved again.
In 42 minutes the Pars buzzed around the Ayr box but Millen was taken aback when Urquhart's delivery travelled through a crowded box and Hutton stopped the net bound effort. As the interval beckoned Moffat broke but in setting up Hopkirk to his left the former Annan striker strayed offside. First half possession 54% Dunfermline, 8 shots to Ayr's three.
Half time: Dunfermline 0 Ayr United 0
The second half started with Ayr's Brian Gilmour hitting the inside of the left upright within 90 seconds of the restart. Hopkirk cut in from the left and tested Hutton with a 52nd minute shot from the edge of the box. Then a Pars corner from the right kept up the pressure and although the defensive headed away Hopkirk's delivery, Allan was presented with a chance to shoot from 18 yards but the ball ended up clearing the crossbar.
Back at the other end in front of the 200 or so travelling visiting fans in the East Stand sub Ryan Donnelly hit a good chance wide of target from just ten yards. There were 58 minutes on the clock when Spence fed Moffat who then flicked the ball on for Hopkirk on the left but he hit the left goalpost with a fine effort.
Hopkirk then produced speed and skills to get round Craig Murray but he found no takers for his excellent chance. Next time Hopkirk took responsibility when through in a similar position and crashed the ball into the Ayr net off the helpless DEVLIN. 1-0 in 63 minutes.
Three minutes later Moffat was presented with great chance in front of goal but the keeper did just enough to get the ball away for a corner. That one came to nothing as did another earned by Moffat in 67 minutes.
Ayr made a double substitution and then Dunfermline their first in 72 minutes; Shaun Byrne replaced Paul George. The Pars were to increase their lead just four minutes later when Hopkirk's corner from the right was met by the head of Andy GEGGAN at the near post. 2-0
Moffat was unlucky to have his shot blocked after making a surging run through the middle but his old club, faced to dropping to ninth in League One put up a fight. Their goal in 86 minutes gave them the lifeline they sought. The goal was a scrappy affair with Scully keeping out Preston at his left hand post before CRAWFORD squeezed the ball in to make it 2-1.
Barrowman was then unlucky with a shot for the Pars and deep into added time Donnelly had a crack at goal only for Dunfermline to block. Three welcome points.
DUNFERMLINE: Ryan Scully; Ross Millen, Lewis Martin. Kyle McAusland, Stuart Urquhart; Paul George (Shaun Byrne 72), Andy Geggan, Lewis Spence, David Hopkirk, Michael Moffat, Lewis Allan (Andy Barrowman 84).
SUBS NOT USED: Ryan Williamson, Declan O'Kane, Ryan Thomson, Faissal El Bakhtaoui, Ryan Goodfellow (GK)
SCORERS: Devlin (og 63), Geggan (76)
YELLOW CARD: George (17)
AYR UNITED: David Hutton, Craig Murray (Jon Paul McGovern 69), Nicky Devlin, Scott McKenna, Michael Donald; Robbie Crawford, Brian Gilmour (Morgyn Neill 69), David Robertson, Adam Blakeman; Jordan Preston, Craig Beattie.
SUBS NOT USED: Craig McCracken, Ryan Donnelly, Andy Muir, Shaun Newman (GK).
SCORERS: Crawford (86)
REFEREE: Nick Walsh
WEATHER: 12C Cloudy
NEXT MATCH: SPFL League One (home) v Stirling Albion
Saturday 14th March 2015, kick off 3.00pm at East End Park.
Half time draw winning ticket no. 139949 won £640
Ladbrokes Championship: Saturday 22nd April, Dunfermline v Falkirk kick off 3.00pm