SPFL League One: DUNFERMLINE 0 STRANRAER 1: 20/12/14
For John Potter's first game in charge there were three changes from the Pars team that lost 3-0 at Airdrie the previous week. In came two players that he had brought through the ranks, though they were no strangers to the first team, Lewis Martin and Lewis Spence. Jonathan Page and Andy Stirling dropped out of the team and squad altogether. Allan Smith was relegated to the bench to make way for Ryan Thomson.
Second placed Stranraer went with the same side as was successful at Peterhead except for Jamie Longworth in place of Stephen Stirling upfront.
The teams changed ends before the Pars kicked off attacking the goal at the McCathie Stand end. A thin ray of December sunshine illuminated Thomson and Moffat as they got the Potter era underway.
Dunfermline shaped up with Andy Geggan on the right of a back four. Ross Millen was on the other flank. In front of them was Spence and Byrne, then a middle three of Josh Falkingham, Thomson and Alex Whittle, Michael Moffat upfront.
The visitors had the first chance of the afternoon when Chris Aitken's third minute corner was met by Longworth and his header was directed wide right from eight yards. A sixth minute free kick allowed Millen to deliver a dangerous ball into the Stranraer six yard box and David Mitchell won the challenge with Thomson to send the ball out right. The home fans were most annoyed that referee Calum Murray stopped play before Dunfermline hads a chance to cut the ball back. The reason for the stoppage was Steven Bell who lay still on the six yard line but after treatment for what looked like a leg knock the former Pars midfielder was able to return.
The dropped ball was challenged but nothing came of that. Dunfermline kept up the pressure with two corners in tenth minute. Geggan came closest at the first and Millen overhit the second. A couple of yellow cards, one for the Blues Scott Rumsby followed a minute later for one for Whittle showed that these sides were out to make their Christmas a good one.
Both sides had opportunities; Grant Gallgher pulled his shot across the face of goal while Falkingham at the other end had his effort from the edge of the box blocked.
A 24th minute Millen free kick was forced out for corner after Thomson's effort was deflected and then there was a scramble at the corner with some fairly desperate but effective defending from Stranraer. That came to as close when Buchanan went in high attacking the loose ball.
It would have been an injustice had there been a goal against, but Sean Winter got in a shot from 16 yards that thankfully went along the ground to Ryan Scully.
On 28 minutes the Pars keeper made an outstanding right handed stop from an Aitken free kick just 19 yards out after Winter had fallen over Buchanan's outstretched leg. It was a magnificent save, the kind that can change the destiny of matches.
Just four minutes later there was a huge let off for the visitors. First Moffat cut in from the left and released an on target shot that Longridge blocked but then the ball went right and Falkingham cut back into the six yard box. The good pass evaded Thomson as he lunged in but Moffat sent the ball towards the net only for Mitchell to stop on the goalline.
The crowd were roused as the Pars continued to play good attractive attacking football. Geggan was unlucky with his knock down at another Millen corner and Falkingham showed some admirable skills to beat men on the right and send over another dangerous cross and then another that was not.
The heat of the match boiled over in 37 minutes when Steven Bell and Lewis Spence got involved in a tussle. Everybody else it seemed piled in and both Bell and Longridge were yellow carded before Stranraer took the free kick.
In 44th minute Whittle forced a corner on the left and when that was defended Byrne found himself to impressively beat two men on the left side of the Stranraer box but have his shot blocked. In the first minute of added time Aitken thrashed a free kick into the box from the right and Martin got the first touch away. Bell reclaimed the ball but his shot was blocked out so it was all level at the break.
Half time: Dunfermline 0 Stranraer 0
The second half was only 90 seconds old when Whittle released Moffat into the left side of the opposition box but the striker pulled his shot across goal and out on the right. A Geggan delivery in from the right then missed out Moffat and Thomson as Stranraer defended.
Play stopped for treatment to both players in 49th minute after Spence clattered into the back of Gallagher. Both were able to continue but the 18 year old Pars midfielder collected a yellow card.
Some magic from Whittle on the left took him past his man and he then zipped a great ball across the face of goal that Falklingham was just a yard short of converting. The next move again ended up with Whittle delivering a dangerous ball in for Moffat and Thomson but Mitchell got his hands on it and Falkingham was penalised for trying to kick in out of the keeper's hands.
It was one way traffic and again Whittle laid the ball off for Moffat on the left and this time his shot landed on the roof of the net. Then in 59th minute, Stranraer were to get the opening goal and it was certainly tough on the Pars. A corner was won on the right as the ball was beaten off Millen's heel. Aitken sent the cross over and Craig Pettigrew was able to gather in the centre of the penalty box. The defender's drive was well stopped by Scully but he could not prevent the ball getting loose in front of goal and Frank McKEOWN stabbed the ball home. 0-1
John Potter then made the first substitution of his managerial career introducing Allan Smith for Lewis Spence in 66 minutes. Moffat was set up by Falkingham for another crack at goal but the former Ayr United player failed to control the chance and Stranraer fans breathed again.
Smith won the ball on the right and play was switched through Thomsomnm to Whittle and expectations were raised but his release into the box only found the Stranraer keeper. McKeown's 74th minute yellow card was definitely one for the team. He cut down Moffat on the edge of the D when it looked like his luck was about to change, but unfortunately Millen's subsequent free kick was driven high over the crossbar.
Two Pars corners in 77th minute were defended before Ryan Wallace made his comeback replacing Ryan Thomson for the final ten minutes. Dunfermline pushed but Moffat, Falkingham and Wallace with their choice of final options.
Moffat had the ball in the net but Wallace was blown up for offside after Buchanan's ball in from the right was crashed on target from the edge of the box by the sub. Mitchell parried the ball to his left and Moffat finished from an acute angle but the flag was up.
In 90th minute Wallace was denied what would have been a spectacular finish as Mitchell pulled off a fine save. Stranraer's first ever league win at East End Park would take them to the top of the table, six points ahead of fourth placed Pars.
DUNFERMLINE: Ryan Scully; Andy Geggan, Gregor Buchanan, Lewis Martin, Ross Millen; Shaun Byrne, Lewis Spence (Allan Smith 66); Josh Falkingham (c), Ryan Thomson (Ryan Wallace 80), Alex Whittle; Michael Moffat.
SUBS NOT USED: Stuart Urquhart, Ross Forbes, Chigozie Ugwu, Sorel Chemin, Ryan Goodfellow (GK)
YELLOW CARD: Whittle (13), Spence (50)
STRANRAER: David Mitchell; Craig Pettigrew, Scott Rumsby, Frank McKeown, Jackson Longridge, Grant Gallagher, Steven Bell (Barry Russell 57), Chris Aitken, Sean Winter, Craig Malcolm, Jamie Longworth (Danny Storey 80).
SUBS NOT USED: Anthony Marenghi, Adam Forde, Daniel Tobin (GK).
SCORERS: McKeown (59)
YELLOW CARD: Rumsby (12), Bell (37), Longridge (38), McKeown (74)
REFEREE: Calum Murray
WEATHER: Overcast 6C
NEXT MATCH: SPFL League One (away) v Brechin City
Saturday 27th December 2014, kick off 3.00pm
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