On one of those nights when everyone wonders why we bother playing midweek football in these freezing conditions, Dunfermline secured a creditable draw away from home against the form team of League One, Brechin City. It’s not so long ago that fans would have poo-pooed the idea of ‘only’ getting a draw at Glebe Park, but for those that didn’t manage to make the trip north, they might be comforted in the knowledge that this was one of the better team performances in recent months.

John Potter rang the changes again in his quest for a winning team, although some were forced upon him. In defence, Kyle McAusland moved to the heart of the defence to replace the suspended Gregor Buchanan, Jim Paterson returned to the left back slot, and Ross Millen started at right back for the first time since 24 January replacing Ryan Williamson who moved to the bench.

Dunfermline lined up 4-3-1-2 with Josh Falkingham returned to the central midfield role, Lewis Spence reinstated but on the right and Andy Geggan left. Ryan Thomson and David Hopkirk gave way to sit on the bench. Michael Moffat also got his starting place back sitting behind the front two of Andy Barrowman and Lewis Allan. There were also places on the bench for Under 20 players Finn Graham and Declan O’Kane while Stuart Urquhart, Shaun Byrne and Paul George dropped out altogether.

Dunfermline kicked off down the Glebe Park slope and couldn’t have got off to a better start. Lewis Allan picked the ball up wide left and cut inside the defender to fire in a shot that was blocked only to come back out to the waiting Josh FALKINGHAM. With just 34 seconds on the clock Josh smashed the sweetest first time shot from 20 yards low to Graeme Smith’s right and into the net. This was the fastest goal of this and many another season – what a start!

The plan seemed to be to use Lewis Allan’s strength and speed down the left side and twice again inside the first five minutes the young striker nearly broke through. But in the 8th minute the Pars had a lucky escape. Robert Thomson drove forward from midfield and tried to thread a ball to Jackson in the box. Lewis Martin managed to get a boot to it but that only helped the ball up and over Scully but thankfully on to the apex of the crossbar and away.

Brechin won the first corner of the game in the 10th minute. That was successfully defended as was a thunderous volley from Hamilton from inside the Pars box just one minute later. Brechin were looking for an equaliser and when they made a break in the 13th minute it took an excellently timed tackle on the edge of the box from Lewis Martin to thwart them.

The game was toing and froing and Lewis Allan continued to cause problems for the Brechin defence. Brechin were playing a tight pressing game so there wasn’t much room for silky football but in the 17th minute some good interplay allowed Millen’s pass to be picked up by Falkingham who fired over a cross from the right, Moffat got a decent header on target but unfortunately straight at Smith.

Brechin were meting out some strong physical challenges and in 23 minutes Molloy was given a final warning for a challenge on Falkingham. However it was to be Josh just four minutes later who received the first yellow card of the evening for one foul too many.

In 31 minutes Dunfermline moved the ball well in a tight situation, culminating in Allan’s chest down being fired over the bar by Moffat. At the other end Brechin winger Bobby Barr always looked dangerous and after weaving past a couple of players down the Brechin right he sent over an inviting low cross that found no takers near the Pars goalmouth.

The game had been evenly fought to this point but Brechin began to apply some pressure before the interval. Brechin won two corners quickly both of which were defended, but after the second Barr managed to fire in a stinging shot from ten yards out right which Scully did well to fist away.

In 38 minutes Allan broke away from the Brechin defence, this time down the right flank, but his cutback from the byeline was intercepted by the Brechin defence just ahead of the waiting Pars strikers.

Brechin won a number of free kicks close to the Pars penalty box but were unable to create any real chances thanks to what had been a well organised Pars defence.

Half Time: Brechin City 0 Dunfermline Athletic 1

There were no changes for either side for the start of the second half and the game continued in a similar vein to the first. In 54 minutes the Brechin defence got a scare after Lewis Allan fired in a shot that was deflected. The Brechin defence struggled to clear and the ball ricocheted around their box dangerously before they finally managed to clear.

Athletic’s defence had been holding up admirably but in the 58th minute that was to change. McAusland was adjudged to have fouled Fusco down the Brechin left. Barr’s free kick into the crowded six yard box came flying off a head to the waiting Paul McLEAN who unmarked was able to slide the ball easily past Scully from 6 yards for the equaliser.

No doubt encouraged by their success, Brechin began to dominate winning a series of corners, most notably one from a terrific run by the impressive McLean. Brechin were pumping high balls into the Pars box and in 65 minutes Ryan Ferguson fired a decent chance well over the bar.

David Hopkirk became the Pars first substitute of the evening in 68 minutes, taking the place of Andy Barrowman. Brechin continued to press but Hopkirk took the pressure off in the 75th minute with a run down the left. When the ball came back to Millen the full back floated a clever ball into the box that Geggan just failed to meet.

Declan O’Kane replaced Spence in 77 minutes and by now Dunfermline were back in it. A good ball from Paterson allowed Moffat to dribble past a couple of defenders but his efforts only won a corner which Brechin defended.

The last real chance of the game fell to Brechin in 85 minutes when they were awarded a free kick for a foul for which Declan O’Kane received Dunfermline’s third yellow card of the evening. In a similar place from where Brechin had scored earlier, Barr’s free kick flew in to be head flicked on to the crossbar by Robert Thomson. A near escape for Dunfermline, but they managed to see out the remaining time including the two minutes added quite comfortably to secure a vital point.

This was another match for Dunfermline on a tight playing area against a physically strong opposition who were clearly up for the challenge. But this was a brave and committed performance from Dunfermline with every player putting their all into the team effort. There was never going to be a lot of good football played but there were encouraging signs for John Potter that his players may be beginning to understand what it takes to beat teams in this league.
BRECHIN CITY: Graeme Smith; Paul McLean, Gerry McLauchlan, Darren McCormack, Colin Hamilton; Ryan Ferguson (Craig Storie,72), Gary Fusco, Craig Molloy (c), Andy Jackson, Robert Thomson, Bobby Barr.
SUBS NOT USED: Alan Trouten, Ollie Durojaiye, Ewan McNeil, Steven Jackson, Calum Tapping, Ben Tough (GK).
SCORERS: McLean (58)

DUNFERMLINE: Ryan Scully: Ross Millen, Jim Paterson, Lewis Martin, Kyle McAusland, Josh Falkingham (c), Lewis Spence (Declan O’Kane, 77), Andy Geggan, Andy Barrowman (David Hopkirk, 68), Michael Moffat, Lewis Allan (Allan Smith, 86).
SUBS NOT USED: Finn Graham, Ryan Thomson, Ryan Williamson, Ryan Goodfellow (GK
SCORERS: Falkingham (1)
YELLOW CARD: Falkingham (28), McAusland (56), O’Kane (85)

REFEREE: Greg Aitken
WEATHER: 2C, icy cold

NEXT MATCH: SPFL League One (home) v Ayr United
Saturday 7th March 2015, kick off 3.00pm at East End Park

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