SFL v St Johnstone


Fixture: Irn Bru SFL Division One

Attendance: 4653, Kick Off: 3.00pm.

Referee: Calum Murray

It was same again for the Pars; the same starting eleven and the same bench that was deployed at Tannadice on Tuesday night. St Johnstone made one change; Kevin Moon preferred to Gavin Swankie.

The CCW Stand was well filled with noisy Saints fans intent on releasing blue and white balloons as the visitors kicked off attacking the goal in front of the Norrie McCathie Stand.

St Johnstone pushed up from the start although they were nearly caught out by an early shot on target from Kevin Harper. With 90 seconds on the clock Kevin`s 25 yard effort forced a save out of Alan Main, the red shirted keeper diving to his left to hold comfortably.

A foul on Nick Phinn, presented Stephen Glass with an opportunity from a free kick on the right side 25 yards out but the shot skidded off the wall and away. Chris Millar carried the ball all the way up the right and St Johnstone maintained pressure on the defence.

The game was still in its fifth minute when Glass challenge on Paul Sheerin was rather harshly penalised. As the blue no.11 juggled the ball on the edge of the box, the tackle was deemed high and from the resultant free kick the visitors took the lead. Liam Craig and Martin Hardie stood over the ball just 20 yards out and it was the right foot of HARDIE that lifted the ball over the four man wall to hit the net just inside the left goalpost.

Ten minutes later a Steven Milne lay off set up Hardie with another good chance but fortunately his low drive from just outside the penalty box went wide right. Dunfermline were kept well away from the St Johnstone goal until, in 18 minutes, Calum Woods cross in the direction of Bayne was knocked down for Phinn but the Perth defence closed with down.

Next Glass sent another free kick over the bar and then a left footed cross from Woods was cut out just as Phinn was about to accept the opportunity. Scott Wilson forced Dunfermline`s first corner of the game in 24 minutes and there was rejoicing from the Pars players and fans as WILSON headed the ball back across goal to beat Millar at the right upright.

The Dave Clark Five`s Glad all Over had barely ceased when Woods weak header back was intercepted by Steven Milne but remarkably he managed to lift the ball over the bar. The game then had a five minute stoppage when Glass` challenge on Kevin Moon left the St Johnstone player motionless on the deck. Referee Calum Murray showed the Pars player a yellow card and Moon had to be carried off showing not a lot of consciousness.

When the match resumed Harper was swiftly forward to deliver a fine low ball into the box that Andy Kirk just failed to get on the end of.  Gavin Swankie had come on for the injured Moon and immediately he could have reached super sub status.  He slipped the ball passed Greg Shields and fired a shot on target that required Gallacher to save.

Phinn headed a 37th minute effort over the bar before Woods played a fine ball into the left side of the Saints box but Main was out to bravely save at the feet of Phinn.  The final minutes of the first half saw the Perth side have advantage of possession but the Pars players gave them no scope for endangering the scoreline.

Half Time: Dunfermline 1 St Johnstone 1

Kirk and Bayne got the second half underway at ten past four and Main had to hold early crosses - one from each side courtsey of Harper and then McCann.  On 47 minutes Harper ran on to a fine ball down the right channel and Main was relieved to watch the winger`s effort run across his goal and out.

A Phinn cross from the byeline was dropped by Main and a defender quickly stuck that behind for a 51st minute corner but that was cleared. Dunfermline`s energetic start to the second period had roused the home support who next saw Woods come in from the right to shoot over the bar from 18 yards.

Chris Millar was dominating St Johnstone`s play and he released a ball to Craig down on the right that was pumped into the six yard box but Gallacher held Milne`s backward header. The travelling support were certainly making their presence felt and the match assumed an almost cup tie atmosphere.

On the hour Phinn was adjudged to have played the ball as it was belted over for a cross and Craig floted over a dangerous ball from the free kick that the Pars got away.  Harper was taken down on the byeline and Glass launched another free kick into the danger zone that was defended out only as far as Harper but his attempt was blocked.

The Perth folk erupted in 66 to greet a fantastic strike from Liam CRAIG. The former Falkirk player left Phinn on their knees as he launched a 30 yard effort from a central position that sailed into Gallacher`s net.

Steven Milne then got to the right byeline to chip the ball to the far post for Derek Holmes to head on target but Alex Burke was on guard to hook the ball off the line. That was the former Killie man`s last involvement as Iain Williamson came on to replace him.  Simon Wiles also subbed for Andy Kirk as the Pars prepared for a final push to salvage at least a point.

Dunfermline forced two more corners in 78 minutes but the nearest they came to solving the deficit was a Woods header over the bar. Three minutes later Woods swung a long diagonal pass deep left that Wiles latched on to and squared a dangerous ball that Williamson might have converted had he not been nudged in the challenge.

Phinn had two bites at a chance then Thomson clipped a cross that Woods headed but that was dramatically headed behind.  The Pars pushed and pushed with the home suport roaring them on but try as they did it only served to rehearse the Perth folks celebrations.

It has been seven years since Dunfermline last defeated their Perth neighbours and sadly it remains so.  With Partick defeating Queen of the South at Firhill this result takes St Johnstone to the top of the league.

DUNFERMLINE: Paul Gallacher; Calum Woods, Greg Shields, Scott Wilson (c), Austin McCann (Scott Thomson 82); Kevin Harper, Nick Phinn, Stephen Glass, Alex Burke (Iain Williamson 70); Andy Kirk (Simon Wiles 74), Graham Bayne.
SUBS: Steven Bell, Callum Reidford (GK)
SCORER: Wilson (24)
YELLOW CARD: Glass (29)

ST JOHNSTONE: Alan Main; Gary Irvine, Liam Craig, Chris Millar, Kevin Rutkiewicz, Stuart McCaffrey, Kevin Moon (Gavin Swankie 34), Martin Hardie, Derek Holmes (Collin Samuel 79), Steven Milne, Paul Sheerin (Steven Anderson 50).
SUBS: Jody Morris, Lee Robinson (GK)
SCORER: Hardie (5), Craig (66)
YELLOW CARD: McCaffrey (49), Irvine (88)


NEXT MATCH: (away) First Division v Airdrie United
Tuesday 4th November 2008, kick off 7.45pm

Sammy says thanks very much for visiting our web site where we have lots of news for young Pars fans.