SPFL League One: DUNFERMLINE 3 ALBION ROVERS 0: 03/10/15
Joe Cardle (43) 1-0, McCabe (62) 2-0; El Bakhtaoui (75) 3-0
The final game of the first quarter of the season brought Albion Rovers to East End Park for the first time in over 15 years. Their manager former Pars midfielder Darren Young is their player/manager he brought with him several other former Pars in his squad. Andy Barrowman and Paul Willis started while Scott McBride was on the bench.
Dunfermline were without the services of Josh Falkingham, out with a back injury, and Lewis Martin who had a lucky escape in a car accident on Monday. That meant the return of Shaun Rooney and Jason Talbot with Andy Geggan moving back to midfield to replace Shaun Byrne.
Ryan Wallace also dropped out of the team to make way for the return of Michael Moffat. The visitors were everybody's tip to go straight back down but a good opening eight games has seen the Coatbridge club sit joint third in League One.
There was a mark of respect for sponsor and fan Sandy Morris who died on Wednesday before the teams changed ends and Dunfermline kicked off attacking the goal at the McCathie stand end. Michael Paton created the first chance of the day but having burst into the right side of the penalty box and sent a great ball across the face of goal there was no one to convert.
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A fourth minute corner delivered by Paton from the right was glanced wide left off the head of Marc McAusland. The Rovers then tested Sean Murdoch when Josh Mullin was able to fire a sot on target from 20 yards. That was quickly followed by a Mullin cross that Barrowman might have finished but as he swung and missed with his right foot the ball bounced away off his left shin.
The Lanarkshire team won their first corner in 14th minute but Moffat got that away and when play switched to the other end Joe Cardle was pushed off the ball by Ricardo Talu in a way that riled the crowd but failed to move referee Mike Roncone. Faissal El Bakhtaoui robbed the ball off Gary Fisher on the edge of the Rovers box but Ross Stewart held the striker's effort.
Play stopped in 17th minute when Talbot required physio Kenny Murray's attention after Mullin had been late in to a tackle on him. The sun came out but the Pars play still failed to shine. Rhys McCabe and then Cardle punted diagonal balls into the Albion Rovers box but both went out beyond the right goalpost. A Talbot pass from deep was left by the defence and the all green keeper gathered easily.
A 25th minute Rovers free kick was lobbed into the Pars box but that just ran straight through. There was more optimism when Cardle sent over a cross from the left two minutes later but neither El Bakhtaoui or Moffat were able to get a strike on the opportunity.
Ally Love certainly had his shooting boots on however and he controlled and then struck a Talu cross narrowly wide left of the Pars net. At the other end Rooney chipped a cross into the six yard box but Stewart held. Paton sent a corner in from the left that the Rovers defence were relieved to get away and then a good move involving Cardle and Moffat got Geggan round the defence on the left but his cut back was not to break the deadlock.
Barrowman was unlucky at a 35th minute corner his headed effort coming back off McAusland and then Love's return was clipped back by Mullin for Murdoch to hold. As the small band of travelling supporters sung "Championees" their side broke through on the right and McCabe and Geggan eventually cleared the danger.
Dunfermline were finding it hard to create chances and in 40th minute Paton headed a half chance wide right. El Bakhtaoui had a shot blocked but then just two minutes from the break, a Dunfermline goal. CARDLE won possession on the edge of the box on the right side and picked his spot in the left corner. 1-0
It had been far from the best Pars performance of the season, they had made hard work of the first 45 but at the break there was a lead, slender though it was.
Half Time: Dunfermline 1 Albion Rovers 0
Striker Mickael Antoine-Curier came on for Michael Moffat as the second half started and was immediately involved harrassing the Rovers defence. It was Cardle, now on the right wing, who got in an early cross that Paton headed downwards towards goal but Stewart saved. The Albion Rovers captain Michael Dunlop blocked a shot from El Bakhtaoui and then in 55th minute Paton's 30 yard shot was easily taken by Stewart.
Dunfermline continued to make misguided passes and even passing the ball out of play on more than one accasion. Rooney forced a 57th minute corner on the right and Paton's low delivery was well short of the big target men in the Rovers box. Another effort from distance saw Geggan drill the ball wide left and when Rooney was presented with a chance from a Cardle cross he stroked the ball from 12 yards allowing Stewart to save.
The Pars did not give up on their thus far unsuccessful shoot on sight policy and a speculative 35 yarder netted the second. Rhys McCABE launched his shot at goal from the right side and it looked like keeper Ross Stewart had done enough to stop the shot but having dived to his right to save it the ball spun up in the air and in behind him. 2-0
David Hopkirk was introduced in place of Joe Cardle while Albion Rovers withdrew Ally Love to bring on Scott McBride. Rooney tested his own keeper with a miscued clearance. When on 70th minute play stopped again after Hopkirk and Turnbull clashed, the visitors full back was yellow carded and 'Hoppy' continued after receiving treatment.
He was certainly in fine form when he made the Pars third of the afternoon in 75th minute. Hopkirk cut in from the left and picked out the unmarked EL BAKHTAOUI who bulged the net from 15 yards. 3-0
Ryan Wallace waited to come on as Geggan received treatment and with a distinct lack of haste the game resumed and the sub duly came on in 81st minute when Shaun Rooney came off. The sub had a quick opportunity to be super after El Bakhtaoui was pushed 25 yards out but he hit his attempt over both the five man wall and the crossbar.
The home side dominated the final ten minutes but there were to be no more goals. Darren Young had come on in 82 minutes but was to last only nine. He collected a yellow on 85 for a foul on El Bakhtaoui and then collected another for his challenge on McCabe.
El Bakhtaoui felt hard done by when not awarded a late penalty but three more points to keep up the pressure on Ayr United who lead the league by one point.
DUNFERMLINE: Sean Murdoch; Shaun Rooney (Ryan Wallace 81), Marc McAusland, Ben Richards-Everton, Jason Talbot; Michael Paton, Andy Geggan (c), Rhys McCabe, Joe Cardle (David Hopkirk 64); Michael Moffat (Mickael Antoine-Curier HT), Faissal El Bakhtaoui
SUBS NOT USED: Shaun Byrne, Lewis Spence, John Potter, David Hutton (GK).
SCORERS: Cardle (43), McCabe (62), El Bakhtaoui (75)
ALBION ROVERS: Ross Stewart; Ricardo Talu, Michael Dunlop (c), Ross Dunlop, Kyle Turnbull; Josh Mullin, Gary Fisher (Mark Ferry 82), Ross Davidson, Ally Love (Scott McBride 67), Paul Willis (Darren Young 82); Andy Barrowman.
SUBS NOT USED: John Gemmell, Callum McRobbie, Blair Lochhead (GK)
YELLOW CARD: Davidson (63), Turnbull (71), Young (85)
RED CARD: Young (91)
REFEREE: Mark Roncone
WEATHER: Fine 12C
NEXT MATCH: Petrofac Training Cup Quarter Final (away) v St Mirren, Saturday 10th October 2015, kick off 3.00pm
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