SFL v Ross County


Fixture: Irn Bru SFL Division

Attendance: 2059, Kick Off: 7:45pm.

Referee: David Somers

The Pars were in the Highlands eleven days early for this SFL First Division match brought forward because of Ross County`s presence in the Challenge Cup Final.  David Graham and Calum Woods with a foot injury, dropped out of the eleven that drew with Partick Thistle on Saturday.  Andy Dowie and Joe Cardle came in.  On the bench was Trialist Jake Hyde for the Pars having scored against Dunfermline for Dundee the previous Tuesday.

Ross County follow this match with five on the road, so there was a desire on the home front of something from this game.  Equally the Pars were not wanting the round trip of over 300 miles to end up fruitless.  Ross County kicked off after the teams changing ends defending the goal at the Academy end.

Paul Lawson was first to get a shot in after 90 seconds but that was wide right and next the fans behind McGovern`s goal greeted a fourth minute free kick where Alex Burke created danger in the six yard box but Keddie`s shot was quickly blocked out.

The home side won a corner in eight minutes but Mason and then Burke cleared. Both sides were trying to pass the ball about but a release from Hardie sent Joe Cardle away up the left.  There were four or five passes before Cardle`s cross towards McDougall at the far post ended with an offside flag.

A Hardie tug on Brittain handed County a 20th minute free kick that Iain Vigurs lobbed in to the box and out at the far post without any touch. A redeeming pass from Hardie then sent Steven McDougall up the right but he lost control and Fitzpatrick stole the chance away.

The home side then put together another good move with Brittain feeding Miller the ball for a cross that Steven Milne dispatched over the bar.  At the other end Hardie whacked a 26th minute shot from 35 yards but was wide of target to the left.  Two minutes later McGovern came out of his box to thwart Austin McCann`s chase up the left.

Buchanan sent Cardle off on a promising break on the half hour but his final ball was too close to the keeper and Michael McGovern took with ease.  The Highlanders were then awarded a free kick in a good central position when Dowie tackled Gardyne and fortunately Lawson`s drive was deflected for Chris Smith to take.

Alex Keddie collected a soft yellow card as Barrowman tried to go between him and McCann,  The resultant free kick out on the right was lifted over by Lawson but Smith held Milne`s header with relative ease. McDougall cut out a dangerous ball to Lawson and then Brittain popped a shot over the bar from 30 yards out.

Dunfermline came back up the park and Buchanan was unlucky in 40 minutes to be closed out at the near post after Cardle and Hardie had created the chance on the left. Next minute Hardie dinked a Dowie cross into the box but there were no takers. Having not really produced too much since the early stages the Fifers finished the half strongly with Hardie showing real class to turn on a McCann pass and send over a ball that Buchanan drove at Iain Vigurs and then Burke took the rebound on 20 yards only for the same opponent to get in the way again!

Half Time: Ross County 0 Dunfermline 0

Burke and Buchanan got the second half underway with the 80 or so travelling fans hoping to see a bit more of a cup final attitude in the next 45 minutes.  Hardie continued to cause the Staggies problems and first hope came from a McDougall corner in 53 minutes but the ball travelled through the six yard box untouched.

It got nervy in 56 minutes after Mason skied a clearance and then landed Dowie in trouble but the stand in right back reacted fast and the clean sheet remaind possible.  A McDougall corner from the right was headed clear and McCann did really well to put and end to Gardyne`s break down the left.

Burke accepted a poor clearance from Scott Boyd and sent the ball wide for Cardle but his shot from the left was blocked. At the other end Lawson`s cross was sent inches wide from the boot of Gardyne. Both managers made their first substitutions of the night and it was David Graham who replaced Steven McDougall in 64 minutes.

A good opportunity evolved five minutes later when Buchanan took advantage of a loose County pass in the centre circle and prodded the ball through for Graham but McGovern smothered the ball just inside the penalty box.  Smith had to do much the same just two minutes later when he dived at the feet of Gardyne.

Burke sent a free kick straight through to the keeper and McCann`s cross was cleared by Milne. County had the next chance after Smith punched a cross at Barrowman on the edge of his area but fortunately Graham was back to blot out the shot. In 77 minutes trialist Jake Hyde replaced Alex Burke and he earned a free kick when Miller held him down. That sent the Pars upfield but the dark blue shirts mopped up the pressure.

Final throw of the dice to prevent the fourth successive draw between the teams at Victoria Park was to swap Pat Clarke for Liam Buchanan but it was the home sub, Garry Wood who nearly broke the dadlock when he ball over from the right fell nicely for Barrowman in front of goal but Smith saved the strikers effort.

Dunfermline pushed up with Smith playing sweeper but still no holes could be found in the home defence, In the first minute of added time there was a glorious chance for an away win. Hardie from his own half sent the ball forward for Hyde who laid the ball in front Cardle.  The swift move set up Clarke but he guided the ball to the far post where Graham just missed the opportunity as the ball flashed past.

Then Cardle was given the chance after McCann was taken down on the left 15 yards out. The game was in its third minute of added time when the perfect delivery was met by Martin HARDIE who headed home from the centre of the six yard box.  No time for any response, the full time whistle meant the Pars hit the top of the table, two points clear of Raith Rovers.  At last a Tuesday night win after five draws.

ROSS COUNTY: Michael McGovern; Gary Miller, Scott Boyd, Jonathan Flynn, Marc Fitzpatrick; Richard Brittain, Paul Lawson, Iain Vigurs (Stuart Kettlewell 62), Steven Milne; Martin Gardyne (Garry Wood 84), Andrew Barrowman, .
SUBS NOT USED: Jason Marr, Paul Di Giacomo, Joe Malin (GK)

DUNFERMLINE: Chris Smith; Andy Dowie, Kevin Rutkiewicz, Alex Keddie, Austin McCann (c); Alex Burke (Trialist 77); Martin Hardie, Gary Mason; Joe Cardle, Liam Buchanan (Pat Clarke 83), Steven McDougall (David Graham 64).
SUBS NOT USED: Chris Higgins, Greg Paterson (GK).
SCORER: Hardie (93)
YELLOW CARD: Keddie (34)

WEATHER: Drizzle 10C

NEXT MATCH: (away) SFL First Division v Cowdenbeath
Saturday 2nd April 2011, kick off 3:00pm

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