SFL Div One: DUNFERMLINE 2 MORTON 2
There was one forced change in the Pars line up with Ryan Thomson being named in the starting eleven in place of the injured Stephen Jordan, out with a strain. This meant skipper Jordan McMillan was deputising in the left-back berth, with Andy Geggan dropping to right back to accommodate the super-sub. Otherwise the starting eleven was unchanged, but 18 year old Ross Drummond was promoted to the bench.
Morton, on the back of five straight wins, made one change to their eleven, David Graham coming in at the expense of Stephen Stirling. Kevin Rutkiewicz would also return to East End Park, as would Martin Hardie, albeit on the bench.
The Pars kicked off defending the goal in front of the Norrie McCathie stand, and soon tried to get their passing game going. In the fourth minute Geggan found space to put in a cross but his effort didn't beat the first man; at the second attempt he sent Falkingham down the right but his attempt to beat Willie Dyer was easily read by the former Raith left-back. A minute later David O'Brien looked much more dangerous, exchanging passes with Weatherson and hitting the bye-line, but Callum Morris turned behind, before Graham over-hit the corner.
Dunfermline soon had their first sight of another former Par, when Rutkiewicz was booked for stopping Wallace illegally, but Cardle could do nothing with the dead-ball 35 yards out. Graham meanwhile fashioned himself a shooting chance in 12 minutes when neat play by Tidser found him some space, but he over-elaborated and came off second best to a blocking Falkingham tackle.
Soon Geggan won an aerial battle with Dyer but chose to pass to the offside Barrowman rather than have a shot as the Pars began to get into their stride. They then won their first corner when Tidser lost out to Andy Barrowman who fed Ryan Wallace down the line but keeper Derek Gaston beat away the shot from the angle.
O'Brien was looking dangerous down the left and in 20 minutes the Pars had a let off when he again found the bye-line and his pinpoint cross was headed over the bar by Peter Weatherson from 6 yards. That was close, but not as close as a chance at the other end two minutes later when Thomson missed a sitter - Geggan intercepted and burst forward leaving Michael Tidser trailing in his wake, passed inside where Barrowman flicked beyond the defence but the normally reliable midfielder stroked the ball wide with only the keeper to beat.
Barrowman was unable to trouble the Morton keeper when he spun and shot from 30 yards out but Gaston easily punched his effort away. At the other end Weatherson had a similar opportunity, but his effort was always going wide. There was nearly an incident a couple of minutes later when a first time ball on the turn from Barrowman saw Gaston diving at Wallace's feet to collect, only to spill the ball, but the keeper was first to react.
Frustration at the lack of chances was beginning to show, and Wallace was booked for dissent after the linesman's flag brought their best move of the game to a premature halt with Dowie, Geggan, Husband and Wallace all combining.
However, five minutes before the break, the visitors took the lead. David Graham who had done very little, got the ball on the right, chipped the ball into the middle where Weatherson nodded the ball down for Archie CAMPBELL to drill underneath Paul Gallacher from 5 yards. A simple goal, and a little against the run of play, but that was what divided the sides as the Pars again trailed at the break.
Half time: Dunfermline 0 Morton 1
Morton got the second half under way and soon tried the same trick that had led to their goal, but this time Andy Dowie was alive to Graham's cross and was able to divert the ball back to Gallacher. Joe Cardle had been quiet but in 51 minutes his reverse pass allowed Wallace to drive in a cross that was deflected behind for a corner on the right. Cardle too drove in the kick from the quadrant but it was easily cleared before Geggan's fine tackle turned the tables, but the Pars couldn't dig out a chance despite some better passing.
A mix-up between Dowie and Gallacher nearly gifted Morton a chance in 54 minutes - Campbell was quick to lift the ball over Gallacher at the edge of the box, but there was no team-mate able to cash in from the cut-back. The Pars in turn wasted a chance when Falkingham, who was now playing wide on the right, sent in a good ball but Barrowman scuffed his attempted side-foot finish well off target.
Weatherson gave way to Hardie just before the hour to complete the trio of ex-Pars on the park and the substitute soon turned Morris inside out before drawing a save from Gallacher at his near post. The temperature began to rise on the pitch with a bout of pushing and shoving after O'Brien had scythed down Falkingham with the former joining Dyer as a second half booking.
With the Pars now playing with more width they were vulnerable in the middle of the park and when Wallace lost possession in 68 minutes, the visitors were able to break quickly and Geggan had to do well to turn aside Hardie's pacey centre. Hardie was again involved soon after latching on to a quick throw in to try an ambitious, bending shot from near the touchline, but was again off target.
Jim Jefferies had made his first change, replacing Cardle with Kirk, Wallace again moving to the left, and this nearly paid immediate dividends when the Pars won a corner after Gaston has spilled a long ball towards his back-post. Falkingham delivered, and although Thomson had the ball in the net with a glancing header, the referee had already blown for an infringement.
No sooner had it seemed that the Pars had equalised, than they went two goals down and again it was Campbell who did the damage. A Tidser corner from the right was met by Hardie, only for his header to be blocked on the line. CAMPBELL was first to react to poke home from close range and it was 2-0 to the visitors.
We were now into the last ten minutes, but the Pars were soon thrown a life-line. An Andy Kirk cross-shot seemed merely to have gone past the far post without touching any Morton player, but a corner was given. Wallace sent the ball into the six yard box, and Kirk's shot seemed to come off McLaughlin's hand. A penalty was given as well as a yellow card to the Morton skipper. HUSBAND took responsibility from 12 yards and although Gaston got his right hand to the ball, it ended up in the roof of the net. 1-2.
Could the Pars complete another comeback? A couple of long balls were pumped high into the box, but Gaston took them well under pressure. However, with 3 minutes of normal time left, the Pars conjured a dramatic equaliser. Falkingham sent the ball down the inside right channel for Kirk, his first time cross was just perfect for WALLACE to send a cushioned header over the keeper into the postage stamp corner of the goal. 2-2
Both teams tried to win it -with the Pars attacking, Morton broke and sent Campbell clear, but Morris timed his tackle to perfection, before Kirk was clear at the other end, only to be stopped by the linesman's flag.
So the Pars again did well to fight back from a two goal deficit, but slid off the top of the table at the completion of the first round of fixtures.
DUNFERMLINE: Paul Gallacher, Andrew Geggan, Andy Dowie, Callum Morris, Jordan McMillan, Stephen Husband, Ryan Thomson, Josh Falkingham, Joe Cardle (Andy Kirk, 70), Andrew Barrowman (Craig Dargo, 80), Ryan Wallace.
SUBS NOT USED: Ross Drummond, John Potter, Michal Hrivnak (GK)
YELLOW CARDS: Wallace (38), McMillan (78)
SCORERS: Husband (82, pen), Wallace (87)
MORTON: Derek Gaston, Craig Reid (Scott Taggart, 71), Kevin Rutkiewicz, Mark McLaughlin, William Dyer, Faouad Bachirou, Michael Tidser, David Graham, David O'Brien, Peter Weatherson (Martin Hardie, 58 (Tony Wallace 89)), Archie Campbell.
SUBS NOT USED: Kyle Wilkie, David Hutton (GK)
YELLOW CARDS: Rutkiewicz (7), Dyer (57), O'Brien (63), McLaughlin (81)
SCORERS: Campbell (40, 75)
REFEREE: Craig Charleston.
WEATHER:: Dry, 12C
Half time draw: Winning ticket number was No. 07915. The prize amount is £492.00. The second prize of a DAFC £20.00 gift voucher was ticket No. 08438.
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