SFL v St Johnstone


Fixture: Irn Bru SFL Division One

Attendance: 3595, Kick Off: 3.00pm.

Referee: Steve O`Reilly

For the second match against St Johnstone in five days, Dunfermline were forced into making┬ two changes.┬ Jamie Mole and┬ Scott Thomson were missing after sustaining injury on Tuesday night. Stephen Glass, Graeme Holmes and Kevin Harper were still out so there were starting places for Scott Muirhead and Alex Burke. Derek McInnes brought back Gavin Swankie, Liam Craig┬ and Martin Hardie meaning Derek Holmes, Paul Sheerin and Kevin Moon dropped out of the visitors` team.

Captain Scott Wilson led out the team to make his 250th appearance for Dunfermline Athletic and St Johnstone goalkeeper, Alan Main made his 346th appearance. Bayne and Kirk kicked off for the Pars and in the third minute had the first opportunity of the afternoon when David Graham rounded Graham Gartland on the right side of the box to centre but Graham Bayne`s header looped over the bar.

Dunfermline kept the play up in front of the St Johnstone fans with Andy Kirk flashing the ball through the Saints six yard box and forcing an early corner. Yet again Jim McIntyre was forced into an early substitution with Austin McCann replacing Scott Muirhead in the tenth minute after the former Dons man sustained a knock.

It was the 19th minute before a Calum Woods header over his own crossbar earned St Johnstone their first corner of the game but oh how they made it count. Liam Craig`s left footed delivery was flicked on to the left┬ by Greg Shields but Graham Gartland drove the ball into the goalmouth where Martin HARDIE turned the ball into the net.

The, up until then, quiet folk from Perth broke out into celebratory chants reminding everyone of their league position.┬ Hardie had another chance when a Chris Millar shot from a free kick in from the right was blocked but there was nothing in that effort to bother Gallacher.

The Pars had lost their early momentum until Andy Kirk battled to break through o the right side of the box.┬ Despite there being three defenders around the Pars striker, Gartland pulled him down and the referee made the easy decision to point to the penalty spot. Graham Bayne looked interested in taking it but Andy KIRK won the honour sending his right footed shot deep into the bottom right of the net. Thirty minutes gone 1-1.

Gartland looked shaky when Bell pressurised him on the right byeline and Kirk was unlucky when presented with a chance they he hit just too high and wide left. Main held a Burke free kick as Dunfermline used the confidence from the equaliser to mount a greater offensive.

St Johnstone replied with Gary IRVINE scoring a fine individual goal from the edge of the box just four minutes from the break.. He was well out of position but Bayne had tracked him back.┬ The Saints no.2 notched his first ever goal in senior football, fighting off both Bayne and Shields before executing with a shot into the top right corner that gave Gallacher absolutely no chance.

Half Time: Dunfermline 1 St Johnstone 2

Paul Sheerin came on for Gavin Swankie at half time and it was his 47th minute shot that immediately ignited the second half. Gallacher palmed the 20 yard shot on to his right hand post and Wilson`s challenge on Milne that may have stopped the St Johnstone striker just six yards out caused Steve O`Reilly to show the skipper a straight red. It was a match changing decision and one that both Dinger and Macca felt harsh.┬ Liam CRAIG took the penalty sending to into the right side of the net.

Greg Ross was immediately brought on at right back with David Graham being withdrawn.┬ Thje Pars sub┬ was fortunate in 54 minutes when he clearly pushed Collin Samuel┬ in the six yard box but the referee obviously didn`t see what would have been a second Saints penalty and another red!

It didn`t look too rosy for the Pars now but in 61 minutes Ross got to the corner flag to swing over a ball that Phinn pumped into the six yard box from the left. Bell miscued with his first attempt but connected well after getting a second chance forcing Main to pull off a fine save.

Sheerin won a corner on the left off Ross in 65 but Bell got that away and Hardie lofted a cross in from the right that Craig headed wide. McCann was forward five minutes later to square to Phinn on the top of the Saints area but when Burke accepted the lay off he drove well left of target.

In 74 minutes Hardie fouled Bayne 30 yards out and Burke tapped the free kick right for Woods to try a drive.┬ It was off target to the left but Kirk almost got a toe on it that could have diverted the ball into the net.

There was a fantastic header off the line by Kevin Rutkiewicz in 81 minutes after Rory Loy`s cross from the left was met by the full power of a Ross header but in the end it was an impossible task for the ten men to come back. Another disappointing day for the East End faithful who can vaguely remember that last home league win on 30th December.

St Johnstone at last can feel confident at the top of the league.┬ The three points, coupled with a QOS win┬ at Partick Thistle, takes the Perth club to 56 points, seven clear of the Maryhill men with just four matches to go.

At the other end that win by the Doonhamers takes them to 40 points just one behind DA.┬ Airdrie in the play off position are just five points behind the Fifers.

DUNFERMLINE: Paul Gallacher; Calum Woods, Greg Shields, Scott Wilson (c), Scott Muirhead (Austin McCann 10); David Graham (Greg Ross 48), Steven Bell, Nick Phinn (Rory Loy 72), Alex Burke, Graham Bayne, Andy Kirk.
SUBS NOT USED: Greg Paterson (GK), Paul Willis,
SCORER: Kirk (30 pen.)
YELLOW CARD: McCann (45+1), Kirk (55), Bayne (72), Bell (90+2)
RED CARD: Wilson (47)

ST JOHNSTONE: Alan Main; Gary Irvine,┬ Kevin Rutkiewicz, Graham Gartland, Steven Anderson;┬ Chris Millar, Martin Hardie (Steven Doris 77), Liam Craig, Gavin Swankie (Paul Sheerin HT), Collin Samuel (Derek Holmes 82), Steven Milne.
SUBS NOT USED:┬ ┬ Steven Kinniburgh,┬ Euan McLean
SCORER: Hardie (19), Irvine (41)
YELLOW CARD: Hardie (71)


NEXT MATCH: (away) First Division v Ross County
Saturday 18th April 2009, kick off 3.00pm

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