SPFL League One: DUNFERMLINE 2 COWDENBEATH 1: 02/01/16
Cowdenbeath were first foots to East End Park for the first time since 1984 and since that match was abandoned the Pars were in search of their first home New Year Derby win over Cowdenbeath since 1955.
The match was a commemoration for the late Pars captain Norrie McCathie who tragically died 20 years ago on 8th January. Norrie joined Dunfermline from Cowdenbeath and so it was fitting that the Blue Brazil were the visitors on this special day.
Ahead of kick off there was a special tribute to Norrie with both teams lining up on the east side of the centre circle to face the Norrie McCathie Stand to observe a minutes silence in the former club captain's memory.
Allan Johnston went with the same starting eleven and bench as at Forfar on Boxing Day while Cowdenbeath manager Colin Nish was forced into two changes from the side that defeated Ayr United in midweek. Out went Dean Brett and Andy Murdoch to be replaced by Lewis Milne and former Par Chris Kane.
Cowdenbeath in all black kicked off towards the McCathie Stand end but the Pars were awarded a free kick in just 30 seconds that allowed Michael Paton to pump the ball into the visitors box where skipper Pat Scullion headed the delivery away.
Cowdenbeath had possession as the fourth minute was met with maximum participation of applause for Norrie. The Pars were pegged back until Andy Geggan dispossessed an opponent in the centre circle to send Joe Cardle forward and he slipped the ball on for Faissal El Bakhtaoui but although he drew the keeper his sixth minute on target shot from 15 yards was blocked by a defender.
Two minutes later the Pars swept forward with Cardle picking out Jason Talbot on the left wing but his cross went behind for a goal kick. There were offside decisions against both sides before Geggan received a back heeler from Cardle to try and then find Moffat on the left side of the box but the pass was too strong. A better ball from Paton in 13th minute escaped through the Cowden six yard box without contact.
Josh Falkingham tried a pop from 30 yards out but was off target wide left and high. Then in 18th minute the first East End goal of 2016 came from a fine swift flowing movement from Cardle to El Bakhtaoui that released MOFFAT into the box on the left and he hit a fine left footed shot into the Cowdenbeath net. 1-0
It was looking good for the league leaders until Marc McAusland went down in front of the dugouts and after a lengthy stoppage including attempts to stretcher the central defender off, Marc limped off. The Pars man had slipped and went over on his foot. Shaun Byrne came on as the 23rd minute sub as Andy Geggan dropped back to the centre of the Pars defence for the second home game running.
The defence was immediately tested with Murdoch beating away a right footed Greig Spence effort and Liam Callaghan blasting the follow up into the stand. Cardle had a chance but failed to dispense the shot before there was controversy after Colin Nish protested for a penalty after Spence went over the outstretched Sean Murdoch in the Pars box. The striker made no appeal but his manager's actions led to him being ordered to the stand after 29 minutes.
Two minutes later El Bakhtaoui broke through the middle and sent a great ball into the path of Moffat. The Pars striker's shot beat keeper but was cleared by Scullion as Falkingham raced in from the right. A Cardle blast was then blocked by Kane and then on another run the gloved Cardle drove a shot from 27 yards narrowly wide left.
In 37 minutes Cowdenbeath broke through with SPENCE running on to a long ball out of defence, drawing Murdoch and slotting home from the right past Richards-Everton. 1-1
Immediately there was a gilt edged chance for Moffat to restore the lead within two minutes his header on a Rooney cross just not getting enough purchase on it to get on target.
Dunfermline took the full 45 minutes before they forced a corner but when Paton swung the ball in from the right the ball was headed away before it could reach Ben Richards-Everton. Chris Kane collected the first yellow card of the game before after four added minutes the first half concluded.
Half time: Dunfermline 1 Cowdenbeath 1
Dunfermline got the second half underway but after just 60 seconds it was Talbot who made a crucial header in his own six yard box to deny the visitors. The home support chanterd 'get into them' as they wished their team up the park. Rooney forced a 50th minute corner but that was defended and then Byrne followed up with a shot thast cleared the crossbar.
Two minutes later Murdoch pulled off a great save to prevent Spence when through one on one with the keeper. From Milne's corner Gordon Smith smashed his effort from a tight angle on the left over the bar. El Bakhtaoui let rip in the next minute but his attempt from 22 yards was always swerving outside the right goalpost.
Play was deep into the Blue Brazils box when El Bakhtaoui was unlucky with his prod towards Byrne. Rooney and Paton attempted an assault down the right but Cowden were soaking up the pressure.
Then on the hour what a take as Declan Hughes fed the ball into the right side of the Pars bnox but Murdoch at full stretch grasped the ball from the feet of Smith. Back at the other end Sneddon blocked an El Bakhtaoui shot and then both Moffat and Byrne pulled the trigger on shots only for defenders to block.
Talbot was getting up the left exchanging passes with Byrne and then Cardle but it was a Cardle cross from the left that caused Kenny Adamson in front of goal, to push Moffat off the ball. Referee Barry Cook pointed to the spot and MOFFAT took the responsibilty stroking the ball into the bottom left. 2-1 after 65 minutes.
Talbot was forward in 72 minutes to test Barclay with a screamer that the tangerine kitted keeper touched over his bar. Two corners followed with Moffat coming close before the visitors cleared from the second. Four more minutes and then Cowden's free kick from the right found Brad Donaldson at the far post but Murdoch performed fantastically well to keep the ball out.
Moffat launched a ball in from the left that the defence looked happy to allow to run out beyond the far post not expecting Geggan's speed to take him to the far post but he turned the ball over the bar.
There was a let off for Cowden in 80th minute when El Bakhtaoui reached the byeline to cut an inviting ball into the centre of the Pars box but Cardle sent the opportunity wide right. Paton fired another over the bar before David Hopkirk replaced Joe Cardle and then Ryan Wallace came on for Faissal El Bakhtaoui. Both subs immediately got involved and had good shots blocked.
Cowdenbeath put in as valiant attempt to find the equaliser but in the end 2-1 was sufficient to secure the points. The news got even better when the full time scoreline of Stranraer 1 Ayr United 0 was announced. A happy new year indeed!
Colin Nish was to say that he thought his team was outstanding and they should have got sometging out of the game. Allan Johnston on the other hand felt that his team looked strong and given the number of chances might have scored six or seven on another day.
DUNFERMLINE: Sean Murdoch; Shaun Rooney, Marc McAusland (Shaun Byrne 23), Ben Richards-Everton, Jason Talbot; Michael Paton, Andy Geggan(c), Josh Falkingham, Joe Cardle (David Hopkirk 83); Michael Moffat, Faissal El Bakhtaoui (Ryan Wallace 85).
SUBS NOT USED: Mickael Antoine-Curier, Rhys McCabe, Paul Joseph Crossan, David Hutton (GK)
SCORERS: Moffat (18, 65 pen.)
YELLOW CARD: El Bakhtaoui (68), Geggan (79)
COWDENBEATH: Jamie Sneddon; Brad Donaldson, Pat Scullion, Kenny Adamson, Fraser Kerr; Chris Kane (Ali El Zubaidi 84), Declan Hughes, Lewis Milne (Craig Johnston 68), Liam Callaghan, Gordon Smith, Greig Spence
SUBS NOT USED: Mo Yakub, Luke Armstrong, Harvey Swann, Ryan McDonald, Trialist (GK)
SCORERS: Spence (37)
YELLOW CARD: Kane (45+1), Adamson (64), Hughes (68), Spence (81)
REFEREE: Barry Cook
WEATHER: Dull 8C
NEXT MATCH: William Hill Scottish Cup (home) v Ross County
Saturday 9th January 2016, kick off 3.00pm at East End Park.
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