SPFL League One: DUNFERMLINE 3 STRANRAER 2: Date 11/01/14
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Stranraer travelled to Dunfermline in search of their first ever league win at East End Park.¬ The third placed side fielded¬ the same eleven that started against Ayr United a week ago. The trialist on the bench for them was former Morton player Stephen Stirling and back at his old club, it was good to see Steven Bell lining up for the visitors, at least for the first quarter of an hour!
Jim Jefferies had captain Josh Falkingham available again. Callum Morris and Alex Whittle were both out injured so from the team that started last time out at Stenhousemuir on second day of the year, Ross Drummond and Ryan Thomson filled the spaces and Stephen Husband and Jordan Moore¬ found¬ themselves on the bench. It was home starting debuts for Ross Drummond and Faissal El Bakhtaoui.
The teams changed ends prior to kick off and Dunfermline kicked off attacking the goal in front of the McCathie Stand. The Pars forced a corner down in front of the tunnel within the first minute and the Stranraer defence was glad to survive the whipped in cross from Ryan Wallace. The minute applause in honour of the late Pars captain started after three minutes 20 seconds and ended when Wallace was taken down by Scott Robertson on the right edge of the visitors box.
Wallace took responsibility for the penalty but sent it to the keeper's left where it was easily spun over the crossbar by keeper David Mitchell.¬ Dunfermline were stung by that but threatened quickly after that with Andy Geggan unlucky not to turn in at the left post. Stranraer then had a great chance when Jamie Longworth burst through one on one with Ryan Scully but the 21 year old keeper pulled off a wonderful save on the deck to deny the striker.
Drummond sent over a corner from the right on 12 minutes but again the defence coped well with the inswinger. A Stranraer corner three minutes later produced the opener. Ironically it was BELL whose header forced the ball past Scully to make it 0-1.¬
In 22 minutes Ryan Williamson accepted a pass from Kerr Young and embarked on a run that he ended by setting up Wallace for a shot but that was deflected for a corner on the right. Drummond was to send one in after the other but again the opposition cleared. Next Martin sent the ball out towards the left corner flag where El Bakhtaoui collected and crossed but Thomson could not convert. A long Geggan ball brought Mitchell out of his goal and Bakhtaoui was unlucky with his attempt to chip the ball into the Stranraer net from 30 yards.
Scully palmed away an on target cross cum shot and¬ the Blues were looking confident as the first half hour passed. From a Sean Winter throw in, Robertson rolled the ball into the right side of the Athletic box but just too much steam on it for Longworth to catch.
At the other end Williamson picked out El Bakhtaoui on the edge of the box and some trickery from the French Moroccan got him free to deliver a cross from the byeline. Stranraer were happy to concede the corner and when Drummond sent that over, Mitchell tried to catch but the ball went past him off THOMSON's head. 1-1.
Another Pars corner three minutes later was better defended by Mitchell but then Wallace was bowled over by Frank McKeown to hand¬ the 23 year old striker¬ an opportunity from a 26 yard free kick but unfortunately he drilled that into the Stranraer wall.
The offside flag was a relief to the home defence in 43 minutes after Winter sent Longworth through. Then next minute a Bell drive came off his own player on the edge of the box to cause the flag to be raised again.¬ It had been a good entertaining first half and at all square the contest was well set up for the next 45 minutes.
Half Time: Dunfermline 1 Stranraer 1
No changes on either side for the restart and referee Alan Muir was unpopular when he blocked a Dunfermline clearance and fortunately Martin Grehan failed to cash in on the assist!¬ In the sixth minute of the half, a¬ Stirling free kick from way out on the right was met by the head of Frank McKEOWN and it powered past defenders and keeper. 1-2
The visitors lead lasted all of six minutes. Wallace sent the ball into the right side of the Stranraer box where Shaun BYRNE shot for goal and a defensive block could not prevent the ball dropping into the net. 2-2¬
The first substitution of the afternoon was a tactical one¬ and Jim Jefferies withdrew Ryan Thomson and gave a debut to the on loan Aberdeen striker Lawrence Shankland on 63 minutes.¬ El Bakhtaoui took a shot from 20 yards that just bobbled past the left post. Wallace was then upended on the corner of the penalty box but Drummond's inviting ball to the far post escaped outside it without anyone touching it.
On 71 minutes Shankland made ground to meet a Drummond cross from the left but it was marginally too high for the number 17 to get enough on. At the other end Gallagher blasted a shot over the bar from 25 yards out. Then with fifteen minutes remaining the home side went ahead for the first time in the match.
Wallace had driven in from the left but faced with no options passed the ball out to the left where Drummond quickly centred. The ball was defended out to Falkingham 28 yards out and he launched a fierce effort on target that rebounded back off Mitchell. SHANKLAND was on hand in true predator style to stick the ball away on his debut. 3-2
Stephen Husband replaced Ryan Wallace for the final ten minutes but Stranraer mounted an attack in search of an equaliser but Martin headed clear from Mark Docherty's cross. The Pars were then reduced to ten men for the final five minutes when El Bakhtaoui was shown red¬ after an altercation with Bell in which he kicked out after a bit of jersey pulling.¬
That led to a stormy finale with two yellow cards for the opposition and a gallant push for goal but the ten men held out admirably to secure an eight point advantage over their opponents.
DUNFERMLINE: Ryan Scully; Ryan Williamson, Kerr Young, Lewis Martin, Ross Drummond; Shaun Byrne,¬ Josh Falkingham (c), Andy Geggan; Ryan Wallace (Stephen Husband 80), Ryan Thomson (Lawrence Shankland 63), Faissal El Bakhtaoui.
SUBS NOT USED: Jordan Moore, Chris Kane, Ross Millen, Allan Smith, Ryan Goodfellow (GK).
SCORERS: Thomson (34), Byrne (57), Shankland (75)
RED CARD: El Bakhtaoui (85)
STRANRAER: David Mitchell, Scott Robertson, Frank McKeown, Scott Rumsby, Mark Docherty; Sean Winter, Steven Bell, Grant Gallagher (Trialist 81), Andrew Stirling, Martin Grehan (David McKenna 71), Jamie Longworth.
SUBS NOT USED: Chris Fahey, Ryan Borris, Lloyd Kinnaird, David McGregor.
SCORERS: Bell (16), McKeown (51)
YELLOW CARD: Gallagher (19), Bell (85), Trialist (89), McKeown (90)
NEXT MATCH: SPFL (home) v Airdrieonians
Saturday 18th January 2014, kick off 3.00pm
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