SFL v St Johnstone


Fixture: Irn Bru SFL Division One

Attendance: 3697, Kick Off: 3.00pm.

Referee: Crawford Allan

Calum Woods replaced the injured Scott Thomson, the only change from the side that started against QOS the previous Saturday. St Johnstone made one change as well; they were without Martin Hardie (virus)┬ and Liam Craig took his place. Trialist 21 year-old Dan Smith got another outing for the Saints.

For both sides this was likely to be a good indicator of what the 2008-09 season has in store for them. Dunfermline kicked off defending the goal in front of their own fans in the North Stand. DA won a corner after only 20 seconds and kept up the pressure with two more within the first two minutes.

Kevin James headed away but Alex Burke has a good attempt to pump the ball at Graham Bayne and next Kevin Harper got in a 30 yarder than went close but just outside the left goalpost. Paul Gallacher`s first touch in fifth minute was to hold a Harper header back to him.

The Fifers wre all over the Perth outfit in the opening ten minutes with Nick Phinn providing Harper the chance to flash the ball across the face of the Saints goal and then Austin McCann to do the same from the other side.

In 11 minutes McCann supplied Andy Kirk with the opportunity to turn in the box and the Irishman was unlucky to see his effort slip wide right. Silky football from Burke and Bayne won another corner on the left and although that came to nothing Dunfermline kept up the territorial dominance.

Euan McLean held a Stephen Glass shot that had taken a deflection and when St Johnstone countered Phinn intercepted to send Kirk back into the opposition half.┬ Despite his jersey being pulled he picked out Burke on the left but his shoting was off target.

The Pars lost Kevin Harper midway through the first half, presumably with a recurrence of the injury that ended his last game prematurely as well.┬ Iain Williamson was soon in the thick of it and with the home support growing increasingly annoyed with their teams efforts it was the subs crosses that first tried to pick out Scott Wilson and then minutes later picked out Kirk on the edge of the six yard box to shoot wide.

Gallacher was kept alert with a Greg Shields clearance that ricocheted off Wilson. He was also well out to fist clear the┬ cross (and Austin McCann) in 33rd minute even when the far side linesman had spotted an offside decision.

The home side were getting into the match for the first time really and Swankie`s 37th minute cross from the left saw Wilson and Holmes spill as they both dived towards the ball.┬ Gallacher collected as the home fans appealed for a penalty.

Gary Irvine produced a fine ball from the right touchline from which Craig got the first on target effort of the afternoon. Gallacher held that before Wilson was yellow carded for halting Steven Milne. Just as Saints threatened to punish Dunfermline for not converting their dominance, it was the travelling support who were on their feet to greet a goal two minutes from the break at the other end.

Sub Iain┬ WILLIAMSON seemed to have loads of time to compose himself after his initial shot from a Phinn pass was blocked by James. The ball lay invitingly and┬ the youngster scored with his┬ left footed shot from ten yards.┬ The connection was not one of his best but who cares, the ball went in off the base of the right post to put DA 1-0 up.

Half Time: St Johnstone 0 Dunfermline 1

Derek McInnes made a double substitution for the restart with Collin Samuel and Andy Jackson replacing Derek Holmes and Gavin Swankie.┬ The Pars defence were going to have to cope with three men up; the two subs and Steven Milne.

Williamson had the first real opportunity of the second half with a shot from a Burke cross but Kevin Rutkiewicz cleared off the line.┬ Samuel then almost paid a dividend for his manager narrowly missing out when sending Smith`s corner over the bar.┬ The two subs next rose to challenge for another ball played in from deep but the ball continued out right.

Bayne had headed over a Glass corner over the crossbar before Dunfermline struck again in 56 minutes. Kirk broke on the left to return the ball square four yards out.┬ Nick PHINN got both feet on the ball as he ran the ball in to give McLean no chance.

The Perth side`s support fell silent as they continued to watch their hopefuls disappoint.┬ They saw a Smith corner flicked on but Rutkiewicz missed out at the far post.┬ Calum Woods required physio`s treatment in 64 minutes but was fit to resume.

Another two Pars corner rallied the Pars support again.┬ Bayne was off target with the first, then┬ Williamson couldn`t get enough on the second. There was danger in the counterattack, Irvine broke to play Milne into the Pars box but Gallacher claimed possession.

St Johnstone tried hard but in vain, to find a way past Gallacher. Smith`s cross was met by Gary Irvine at the far post but his effort was turned into the sidenetting by the keeper.┬ Next Gall pulled off a fine save to deny Samuel whose downward header lifted wickedly up. Williamson too, had a fine block on a Craig shot.

St Johnstone forced three successive corners in 82nd minute and their best chance seemed to be a penalty appeal at the second when James header appeared to go behind of an arm.

Scott Muirhead replaced Andy Kirk and the sub won the corner in 89 that Bayne just couldn`t control.┬ But┬ while continuing to┬ bother the home defence they managed to pressurise Ruitkiewicz into passing┬ to Phinn whose chip forward┬ to BAYNE 25 yards out. He took a touch before beating the keeper with a fine strike to make it 3-0 and to record his first competitive goal for the Pars.

This was a great result for Jim McIntyre`s team, the club`s best league win on the road since the 4-1 win at Easter road on September 11th 2002 and it will be one that will alter opinions of neutrals no doubt.┬ Dunfermline did make St Johnstone look poor in all departments. There`s one three SFL fixtures played but┬ Pars people┬ can look forward to the next 33.

ST JOHNSTONE: Euan McLean; Gary Irvine, Kevin Rutkiewicz, Kevin┬ James, Trialist, Gavin Swankie (Collin Samuel HT), Liam Craig, Chris Millar, Paul Sheerin (Peter MacDonald 86), Derek Holmes (Andy Jackson HT), Steven Milne.
SUBS: Stuart McCaffrey, ┬ Alan Main (GK)
YELLOW CARD: Irvine (44)

DUNFERMLINE: Paul Gallacher; Calum Woods, Greg Shields, Scott Wilson (c), Austin McCann; Kevin Harper (Iain Williamson 23), Nick Phinn, Stephen Glass, Alex Burke; Andy Kirk (Scott Muirhead 84), Graham Bayne.
SUBS: Paul Willis, Stuart Dearden, Callum Reidford
YELLOW CARD: Wilson (41)
SCORER: Williamson (43), Phinn (56), Bayne (89).

WEATHER: Dry 21┬║C

NEXT MATCH: MG Alba Challenge Cup (home) v QOS Wednesday 20th August 2008, kick off 7.45pm

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