SFL v Ross County


Fixture: Irn Bru SFL Division

Attendance: 2213, Kick Off: 3.00pm.

Referee: John McKendrick

Dunfermline made the 154 mile trip north to Victoria Park, Dingwall where second placed Ross County awaited them. They were without long termed injured Graham Bayne, Stephen Glass and Steven McDougall. Added to the Pars Manager`s woes were injuries to both Andy Kirk (hamstring in training) and to Calum Woods (calf injury against Celtic).

Ross County made one change from the side that hit nine passed Stirling; Steven Watt replaced the suspended Alex Keddie. It was the home team that kicked off defending the goal at the Academy end where around 100 of the 180 or so travelling supporters were standing.

County`s Garry Wood threatened in 65 seconds driving through the left side of the Pars defence to send a low ball whizzing through the six yard box and out for a bye kick at the far post. In sixth minute though Greg Ross forced a corner on the right.

Willie Gibson picked out Joe Cardle on the edge of the box but his on target effort was blocked and then keeper Michael McGovern flattened Neil McGregor as he punched clear. The Pars began to string passes together and looked particular positive down the right.

It was from the other flank that Dunfermline created the opening goal in tenth minute. A long ball from Cardle sent David Graham deep and wide but his cross was sufficiently in front of the keeper to find PHINN at the far post and he smashed the ball into the roof of the net.

Exactly a minute later Graham curled a shot from 25 yards around the left post but the Pars continued to enjoy most of the possession. County were finding it hard to cope but looked capable of hitting quickly on the counter.

Alex Burke tried a shot from a defended McCann cross and then the ball cannoned off the referee to present Steven Bell with an opportunity but the surprise was too great. In 22 minutes Phinn`s cross towards Bell was headed behind for another corner for the visitors from the right. Gibson yet again picked out Cardle unmarked on the edge of the box but yet again the defence blotted out his well struck attempt.

Burke whacked a 26th minute shot over the bar from distance then four minutes later Cardle put Graham through one on one with McGovern but the keeper`s legs kept out the second Pars goal. The home side were pegged back

A Gibson pass for Ross on the overlap allowed the full back to skin his former team mate Scott Morrison and his cross was knocked up in the air but PHINN got on the end of the ball when it dropped and drilled a superb finish into the far side of the net to make it 2-0.

Two minutes later Graham sent the ball inches wide of the right post, the Pars striker was caught offside before from a free kick for Morrison`s yellow card earning tackle on Bell when Dunfermline brought McGovern into play again holding Bell`s headed effort.

This was a first half where the excessive number of midfielders gave Dunfermline dominance and loads of possession. The football in a Fifer`s eyes was good but Graham was a lonely figure in front of goal. Nevertheless a healthy lead and much grounds for optimism at the break!

Half Time: Ross County 0 Dunfermline 2

Derek Adams made a double substitution at the start of the second half, introducing Stuart Kettlewell and Iain Vigurs for Martin Scott and Paul Di Giacomo. As you could have anticipated the home side were fired up for the restart and play was uncomfortably in front of the Dunfermline goal.

County forced a corner on the left in 54 minutes.  The cross was only cleared as far as Paul LAWSON on the edge of the box and he thumped the ball through a crowded penalty box to get a goal back for the Dingwall side.

Steven Watt headed narrowly wide from a 62nd minute corner as County subdued the Pars. Next minute Burke came extremely close to restoring their two goal lead. His fine shot from 25 yards was well saved by McGovern and he recovered fast to prevented Cardle netting the loose ball.

There was a huge let off at the other end after McCann was dispossessed and Michael Gardyne got free on the right to square and miraculously Garry Wood sent the ball wide right from just two yards.  In 68 minutes Vigurs smashed a shot narrowly outside the left post and Morrison had a fierce shot blocked after the ball pinballed around the Pars box.

As the game entered the final 20 minutes the Pars support grew quieter and more concerned for although Fleming still had little to save the ball was being shot over the bar and escaping out for goal kicks.

The Fifers came back into it with McCann earning a corner in 78 minutes but it was soon back at the other end but County sub Andrew Barrowman deflected a Morrison rocket away from goal. County then struck as the Pars defence failed to clear their decks and Steven WATT completed the comeback with the equalising goal in 85 minutes.

Dunfermline had chances at a Muirhead corner with McGregor and Bell and then Graham all striving to get the killer blow.  As County took the ball away Graeme Holmes and Scott Morrison tangled and the County no.3 went to the deck.  He made the most of it and the farside Assistant advised Referee John McKendrick that a red card was in order.

There was a late let off as Gardyne failed to get on a cross from the left so the game ended 2-2, the third draw of the campaign between the sides.

ROSS COUNTY: Michael McGovern, Scott Morrison, Scott Boyd, Gary Miller, Steven Watt; Michael Gardyne, Martin Scott (Stuart Kettlewell HT), Paul Lawson, Richard Brittain (c); Paul Di Giacomo (Iain Vigurs HT), Garry Wood (Andrew Barrowman 71).
SUBS: Joe Malin, Steven Craig
YELLOW CARD: Miller (39), Morrison (42), Lawson (68), Watt (82)
SCORER: Lawson (54), Watt (85)

DUNFERMLINE: Greg Fleming; Greg Ross, Neil McGregor, Andy Dowie, Austin McCann (c); Willie Gibson (Graeme Holmes 71), Steven Bell, Nick Phinn, Alex Burke, David Graham, Joe Cardle (Scott Muirhead 84).
SUBS: Jim McIntyre, Gary Mason, Greg Paterson (GK)
SCORER: Phinn (10, 32)
YELLOW CARD: Cardle (30)
RED CARD: Holmes (89)


NEXT MATCH: (home) First Division v Ayr United
Saturday 20th February 2010, kick off 3.00pm

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