SPFL Championship: DUNFERMLINE 5 DUMBARTON 1: 04/03/17
Dumbarton and Dunfermline went head to head in the contest to make sixth place their own. Seven points behind Queen of the South above them the sides were separated only on goal difference, the Pars three better off than their opponents.
On the back of a fine performance at Easter Road in front of the BBC Alba cameras the previous Saturday, manager Allan Johnston went with the same starting eleven and his Dumbarton counterparts Strvie Aitken named the same side as played Falkirk last time out.
Dunfermline came out on top in a 4-3 scoreline when they last met the Sons at East End Park and from that match on the opening day of the league season six of Dumbarton`s starting eleven turned out for this encounter but only four of Dunfermline`s - Lee Ashcroft, Andy Geggan, Michael Moffat and Kallum Higginbotham.
Number 72, Christian Nade got the match underway with the visitors attacking the goal at the McCathie Stand end. Within 30 seconds Higginbotham had a shot blocked and forced a corner within the first minute as well.
Dumbarton created an early chance when Robert Thomson put in a powerful effort from the right and they too had a corner within three minutes.
Four minutes later Higginbotham and Moffat linked up to give the latter the opportunity to cross to the far post. Nicky CLARK leapt high to meet the cross and the Pars took the early lead. 1-0
The Fifers looked confident with both flankers, Higginbotham and McMullan taking on the Dumbarton defence. In contrast keeper Alan Martin displayed uncertainty when not taking a relatively easy take leaving Mark Docherty to sweep up for him.
There was real entertainment in the 17th minute exchange by Herron backheeling Clark`s pass into the path of McMullan but his shot was blocked. Then when Nat Wedderburn immediately won the ball back, McMullan got in another shot but was off target.
Nade was warned for his tackle on Geggan down in front of he Pars dugout, the Pars captain recovered to take the free kick and although his delivery created danger the Sons defence cleared.
Dumbarton were able to push further up and in 24 minutes a David Smith ball in from the right was cut out before Nade could convert and the Pars successfully defended the corner. Great control by Moffat allowed Dunfermline to try and hit on the counter. Clark superbly beat the offside trap as Moffat threaded the ball though the middle but Martin came out and blocked the strikers effort.
Play continued in the final third and Clark kept the ball in on the left to turn it back to McMULLAN who took a touch before dispatching his 27th minute shot into the far corner of the Sons net. 2-0
There followed a disagreement between Docherty and Carswell which concluded with the latter having to leave the field and Sam Stanton was the first sub to be deployed.
The goalscorer really should have bagged a brace within eight minutes after a cross the box pass from Moffat was missed by the defender and travelled to McMullan who given plenty time, smashed his shot over the crossbar.
The Pars sought another before the break and when Geggan robbed Andy Stirling it looked that punishment could be enacted but Dumbarton broke down the move. Moffat was next putting in a strong run in from the left to force a corner but that was ably defended.
As the break got closer Stevie Aitken`s side pushed again and it took a great double save from Murdoch in 41 minutes, first from Thomson and then from Smith to keep the shut out possible.
Half time: Dunfermline 2 Dumbarton 0
The visitors started the second half great intent seeking to do better than their first half 45% possession. In the sixth minute of the half Moffat raced through after getting the break as Buchanan took out Clark. Unluckily the Dumbarton keeper yet again came out on top of a one on one.
Murdoch got up to tip away Docherty`s inswinging corner from the right and Higginbotham`s clip sent Moffat away up the right but Dumbarton won back possession to deny McMullan another crack at goal.
John Herron was forced to retire in 58 minutes and Rhys McCabe came on as the Fifers first sub of the match. Within two minutes the Pars were three ahead. A corner from the left was met by the in running CLARK whose header was forced past the helpless Smith on the right upright. 3-0
Lewis Vaughan then threatened to waltz the ball through the middle of the Pars defence but Ashcroft pulled off a great tackle to rob the ball off him. With twenty minutes remaining it began to feel like the match was won. Dumbarton lived dangerously as they fell deeper. Higginbotham had his shot blocked and so did Clark but when the striker switched it to McMullan he curled a good effort that Martin turned away at his left hand post.
Both sides made substitutions in 73rd and 76th minutes. Nat Wedderburn and Michael Moffat went off to standing ovations and Lewis Spence and then Gavin Reilly were introduced. Lewis put in the cross that led to CLARK`s hat trick in 79th minute. Higginbotham had possession on the edge of the box but bided his time until he picked out the Pars sub on the right side of the box and his delivery proved decisive as the striker rose to head home the Pars fourth. 4-0
CLARK then found the net again from a Geggan pass flicked on by Higginbotham, five minutes later and with the last kick of the ball he might have netted again but thrashed the ball into the Norrie.
In between Dumbarton had produced a bit of a revival. Daniel HARVIE found the net immediately after the Pars fifth and the player also hit a 25 yard free kick on to the roof of the net.
It was a resounding and very welcome victory.
DUNFERMLINE: Sean Murdoch: Andy Geggan (c), Callum Morris, Lee Ashcroft, Jason Talbot: Nat Wedderburn (Lewis Spence 73): Kallum Higginbotham, John Herron (Rhys McCabe 58), Paul McMullan: Nicky Clark, Michael Moffat (Gavin Reilly 76).
SUBS NOT USED: Joe Cardle, Michael Paton, Callum Fordyce, David Hutton (GK)
SCORERS: Clark (7, 60, 79, 84), McMullan (27)
DUMBARTON: Alan Martin: Mark Docherty (Tom Lang 73), Gregor Buchanan, Darren Barr (c), Daniel Harvie: Stuart Carswell (Sam Stanton 30), David Smith, Lewis Vaughan, Andy Stirling, Robert Thomson, Christian Nade (Garry Fleming 75).
SUBS NOT USED: Ross McCrorie, Kyle Prior, Callum Gallagher, Jamie Ewings (GK)
SCORERS: Harvie (85)
YELLOW CARD: Thomson (30), Buchanan (53), Fleming (81)
REFEREE: Kevin Clancy
WEATHER: Cloudy 6C
NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship: (home) v Queen of the South, Tuesday 7th March 2017, kick off 7.45pm
Half time 50/50 winning ticket was ticket number 86153 for the prize of £806
Betfred Cup v Peterhead: Saturday 22nd July 2017, kick off 3.00pm