SFL v Stirling Albion


Fixture: Irn Bru SFL Division

Attendance: 1370, Kick Off: 3.00pm.

Referee: Steven Nicholls

Dunfermline made the short trip to near neighbours Stirling for the first time since March 2008.  Last time the Pars won thanks to a Kevin Harper hat-trick, this time it was Andy Kirk who left with the match ball. 

The home side have had a fruitless return to the First Division taking just one point out of the first possible nine.  For the match against the Pars they made two changes from the side that lost to Falkirk the previous Saturday; Michael Mullen and Ross Forsyth replacing Andy Gibson and Nathan Taggart. Jim McIntyre was seeking to shore up his defence who had both Clyde and Raith knock two past them in the two most recent games, Chris Higgins and Gary Mason returned and Alex Keddie and Alex Burke dropped out altogether.

The teams changed ends for the kick off but that was delayed as the match officials found a problem with the net that the Pars were to be attacking at the north end. After a three minute delay Stirling kicked off through Smith and Mullen. The yellow boots of Willie Gibson created the early danger sending in a cross from the right that the opposition defence despatched to the stand.

First shot at goal in second minute was from distance by Andy Kirk but Scott Christie held easily. The first corner of the match was taken on the left by Gibson but that failed to get elevation but soon Gibson was presented with a chance on the edge of the box. He took one touch too many and the defence squeezed him out.

It was all Dunfermline but a packed defence was doing its job even though Christie`s punch on a Cardle cross was unconvincing. Cardle cut in from the right and made an opening but he scuffed his shot and again Stirling survived. In eleventh minute Gibson was wide on the right to beat off Brown and Buist`s header dropped to Cardle.  His return was perfect for Mason but his shot from six yards was deflected over the bar.

In 14 minutes Gibson skinned on loan Jonathan Brown on the edge of the box to fire a ball at the far post where Steven BELL stuck it away. Within 90 seconds Andy KIRK had made it two.  Steven McDougall did the hard work on the right side of the box to get the cross in and the Pars prolific goalscorer turned the ball in at the far post just as he had seen Bell do.

Former Par Greig McDonald, out for most of last season with a knee injury, was subbed in 19 minutes but that meant Chris Aitken, a regular scorer against the Pars, was introduced.  The Pars also made a substitution midway through the first half as Mason was forced off and Nick Phinn replaced him.

The Pars continued to dominate the game with Christie fisting the ball off the head of Kirk and then a McCann cross being turned into the sidenetting at the far post by Gibson. Willie had another chance but his shot from the edge of the Stirling box was not to beat the keeper.

In 30 minutes Mullen got the better of Andy Dowie on the left side of the Pars box but Higgins was behind him to block the shot on target.  Two minutes later the ball was pumped across the Albion box by McDougall and returned by McCann but Martyn Corrigan headed clear. In 33 minutes Calum Woods lobbed a ball over to the far post but Cardle`s cushioned header dropped wide right.

The visitors were coasting but had eased back too much when Jerome Heeking got to the byeline on the right and his cut back was headed home by Gordon SMITH.  The on loan Hearts player converted the easy chance and Ross Forsyth nearly emulated him two minutes later when he was on the end of lofty ball from the right touchline. Fortunately Chris Smith held on his goalline.

In 38 Higgins headed a Gibson corner wide left and Stirling`s next attack forced a free kick on the left side 15 yards from the byeline but Aitken curled his effort outside the right goalpost. Still Dunfermline peppered the Stirling box with crosses from Woods and Gibson but no one could get in a shot to test Christie.

McDougall`s 44th minute cross was headed on by Kirk but Christie clutched ball off the head of Phinn at the left goalpost.  Really Dunfermline should have had this match out of sight within 20 minutes but with Smith getting Albion back in the match, the contest was still alive at the interval.

Half Time: Stirling Albion 1 Dunfermline 2

Cardle sent in a good diagonal ball in 16 seconds but Kirkie was just to far behind the cross. Then within the next minute Kirk was through but a late offside flag denied his opportunity to take his season`s tally into double figures.

Fancy footwork from Gibson in 52 minutes sold Aitken but the shot from 30 yards was not as special. Christie pulled off a great save in 54 minutes after Gibson had crossed a McDougall cut back into the far post - the left - and Phinn`s header was powered on target but the Stirling stopper was up for it.

Stirling were not out of it and Scott Roberson might have done better with his header on a Brown cross then Smith was almost caught unaware by a quick Forsyth attempt.  McCann forced a corner on the left in 61 minutes and Higgins effort on Gibson`s delivery was turned over the bar by Corrigan. Phinn was picked out at the second and Robertson blocked the midfielder`s shot from the edge of the area.

In 63rd minute Phinn launched the ball to the right side of the six yard box where Bell headed across goal for Kirk,  The keeper somehow kept Kirkie`s header out and then McDougall failed to pick up the scraps.  At the other end Chris Smith palmed a Forsyth ball behind for a corner but that caused no further problems.

Cardle`s 70th minute cross was headed behind for a corner and from that Kirk was allowed to shoot but Christie performed heroics to turn the ball around his left hand post. Two more corners followed but that changed nothing. Stirling brought on an attacking player, Nathan Taggart for their left back, Brown and Pat Clarke was introduced for McDougall.

Christie made heavy weather of a Woods high ball but it was Stirling who came close to scoring in 75 minutes,  Chris Aitken broke into the Pars box on the right and directed the ball past the left goalpost as his fellow team mates just failed to reach his inviting ball.

The goal that Dunfermline needed came in 78 minutes when CARDLE wove in from the left, leaving Corrigan in his wake to stick the ball away at the far post.  The travelling support chanted Super Joe leaving the world in no doubt who scored.

A free kick for the home side as Dowie was yellow carded was thumped through the Pars wall and Smith pulled off a fine save as newly introduced sub Colquhoun came close. Pat Clarke had a chance turned over the bar before in 88 minutes a Cardle cross from the right was headed in at close range by Andy KIRK.

In the second minute of added time KIRK completed his hat-trick taking advantage of a Buist slip up to break through one on one on Christie and the Pars striker made no mistake from 15 yards to notch his 11th goal of the season. The scoreline eventually was a fair reflection but until 78th minute Stirling had made it an anxious watch for the Pars fans.

STIRLING ALBION: Scott Christie; Martyn Corrigan, Jonathan Brown (Nathan Taggart 72), Greig McDonald (Chris Aitken 19), Scott Buist,  John Kane (Derek Colquhoun 82), Scott Robertson, Jerome Heeking, Gordon Smith, Michael Mullen, Ross Forsyth.
SUBS:  Andy Gibson, Callum Reidford (GK)
SCORER: Smith (34),
YELLOW CARD: Kane (64) Buist (86), Heeking (87), Forsyth (90).

DUNFERMLINE: Chris Smith; Calum Woods, Andy Dowie, Chris Higgins, Austin McCann (c); Willie Gibson (Paul Willis 91), Steven Bell, Gary Mason (Nick Phinn 22), Joe Cardle; Andy Kirk, Steven McDougall (Pat Clarke 72).
SUBS: Neil McGregor, Kyle Allison (GK)
SCORERS: Bell (14), Kirk (15, 88, 92)
YELLOW CARD: Dowie (83), Gibson (85)

WEATHER: Sunny 17C

NEXT MATCH: (home) First Division v Dundee
Saturday 11th September 2010, kick off 3.00pm

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