SPL v St Mirren

ST MIRREN 4 DUNFERMLINE 4 Date: 21/04/12

Attendance: 3616, Kick Off: 3:00pm.

Referee: Iain Brines

Dunfermline travelled to Paisley for the fifth last match of the season and it was one in which they could safely be described as fighting for their SPL lives. Jim Jefferies brought back in Martin Hardie and Liam Buchanan meaning Paul Willis and Andy Kirk dropped to the bench that contained no defenders at all.

St Mirren seeking just their second SPL win in 2012, replaced Jeroen Tesselaar and Steven Thomson with JIm Goodwin and Graham Carey. The skies darkened towards kick off with another heavy April shower threatening.

The 308 strong travelling support boasting a drummer and flags welcomed the Pars on to the park wearing their away yellow and blue strips. Kyle Hutton and Liam Buchanan kicked the game off attacking the goal in front of the home support, and Hardie had a shot from distance blocked within 30 seconds.

In fourth minute Paul McGowan slotted the ball through for Nigel HASSELBAINK and with the defence looking for what might have been a fair offside decision the striker swiftly moved into the right side of the box and under pressure from Austin McCann, slipped the ball under the advancing Chris Smith. It was the hosts first attack of the game 1-0.

Four minutes later Carey was wide left to cross in the direction of David van Zanten at the far post but fortunately he failed to finish. At the other end a long ball from Smith allowed Hutton to fight his way into a shooting position but the shot was deflected behind for the visitors first corner of the afternoon. Unfortunately when that came over from the right Hardie`s header went over the bar.

In 12th minute Graham sent Hutton through the middle but the on loan Ranger`s left footed shot was pulled wide of the right goalpost. Within two minutes Gary Mason lifted the ball deep down the right and Buchanan turned his man to get in a cross that Goodwin accepted. Had he chosen Graham on the top of the box, the outcome might have been very different.

The woodwork denied the Pars a goal in 19th minute when David Graham played a neat one two off Hardie after a slack Saints pass. Luck was not to favour the Pars player`s left footed effort from 22 yards. Then two minutes later a McCann free kick into the box was only half cleared and Jordan MacMillan centred again but Alex Keddie`s header went well wide right.

Then in 24 minutes Dunfermline got the joy that they had earned as McMILLAN broke clear of Carey and released a fantastic left footed shot from the edge of the box that gave Craig Samson little hope of stopping. 1-1.

Saints reshuffled their formation pulling van Zanten and Carey to full back with Goodwin moving into a midfield role. Only five minutes after being pegged back St Mirren should have restored their lead. A Carey ball over from the left was headed on to the crossbar by McGowan and remarkably Thomson failed to net the rebound.

Smith avoided an embarrassing own goal when Andy Dowie`s back header was clawed down by the keeper`s outstretched left hand. MacMillan collected a yellow card when he went straight through Carey out near the right corner flag.

Dunfermline`s impetus was stemmed with St Mirren getting long distance efforts in on goal from Carey and McGowan. Hutton was caught in a 38th minute challenge with Goodwin and physio Kenny Murray was called upon.

The visitors made Samson work again just three minutes from the interval when Graham fed Mason the ball on the right and the keeper came out to steal the ball away from Hardie. Things turned for the worse however in 43 minutes. The dayglo boots of Carey swung another ball in from the left, neither the keeper nor his defenders went for the ball leaving THOMSON to drift in and head in number two.

Mason did get a snap shot in but Samson had no problem in holding that while at the other end McGowan drove a low effort wide. Quite a frustrating first half for the bottom of the table team. They looked good for the spell up until they equalised but let St Mirren back into it and lost a silly goal just at the wrong time.

Half Time: St Mirren 2 Dunfermline 1

Joe Cardle replaced Jordan MacMillan for the second half meaning Gary Mason moved to the right back position. Two minutes after the restart McLean flashed a ball through the Pars penalty box and McCann got an important touch to deflect the ball away. Unfortunately a high ball was returned from the right and again THOMSON rose above Dowie to power the ball past Smith. Yet another deflating goal early in the second half of a game. 3-1.

Cardle`s first run in 54 minutes created a crossing opportunity and Hardie was in position on the edge of the six yard box to meet it but his header was not good and the chance was gone. Two minutes later it was all so different as the Pars got back into the match. A loose pass was gathered by GRAHAM and he played a good 1-2 with Hardie to breach the home defence and finish in style. His first goal since 26th November, 3-2 and over half an hour to go.

The Fifers appeared to rise to the challenge with Graham and Cardle creating danger down the left, Buchanan forced a corner and then Hardie nearly got on to a low ball into the Saints box. The Pars fans chanted "get into them" as the play continued to sweep towards Samson`s goal but the goal was to come at the wrong end. Steven THOMSON completed his hatrick in style on 66 minutes after Van Zanten dispossessed Cardle and advanced into the box where he teed up the striker for a good finish. 4-2

You could fear that Dunfermline might have thrown in the towel at that but then in 71 minutes BUCHANAN was sent through in the right channel and with numerous defenders in tow there was only one option. The striker finished with class, finding the top corner of the near post from 18 yards.

The goal delayed Liam`s substitution but Andy Barrowman was duly introduced seven minutes later.  Cardle teased the Saints defence and narrowly failed to set up Mark Kerr for a shot on 18 yards.  Andy Kirk was an 85th minute sub and he immediately came close to getting on the end of Cardle`s inswinger.

St Mirren continued to look dangerous and McCann made an important interception after Gary Teale got the better of Dowie out on the left. Then in 88 minutes another great delivery from Cardle was headed home by substitute KIRK to give Dunfermline renewed hope. 4-4.

In the first minute of the three added minutes Kirk`s shot was deflected for a corner. Everyone attacked the cross but St Mirren got the ball away. In a frantic finale Kirk had a shot off target and then another ball into the box from the right was headed on by Barrowman but neither Cardle nor Hardie could get on the end of it.

Eight goals but just one point. When you score four goals away from home you could reasonably expect to win but not in Paisley. Maybe not the three points that were required but the team did show phenomenal spirit to salvage a point.

ST MIRREN: Craig Samson; Lee Mair, Jim Goodwin, Marc McAusland; David van Zanten,Dougie Imrie (Gary Teale 73), Paul McGowan, Kenny McLean, Graham Carey; Nigel Hasselbaink (Thomas Reilly 73), Steven Thompson
SUBS NOT USED: Darren McGregor, Graeme Smith, Aaron Mooy, Steven Thomson,  Hugh Murray.
SCORER: Hasselbaink (4), Thomson (43, 48, 66)
YELLOW CARD: Imrie (59)

DUNFERMLINE: Chris Smith; Jordan MacMillan (Joe Cardle HT), Andy Dowie, Alex Keddie, Austin McCann (c); David Graham, Gary Mason (Andy Kirk 85), Mark Kerr, Kyle Hutton; Martin Hardie Liam Buchanan (Andy Barrowman 78).
SUBS NOT USED: Ryan Thomson, Paul Willis, Steven McDougall, Bernardo Fernandez (GK).
SCORER: MacMillan (24), Graham (56), Buchanan (71), Kirk (88)
YELLOW CARD: MacMillan (31), Keddie (78)

WEATHER: Overcast 10C
ATTENDANCE: 3616 (308 Pars fans)

NEXT MATCH: (home) SPL v Aberdeen
Saturday 28th April kick off 3.00pm

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