SPFL League One: STENHOUSEMUIR 0 DUNFERMLINE 3: 06/02/16
After three matches without scoring it was a squad and management team confident that the scoring touch would return, that travelled to Ochilview Park on Saturday. New signing Craig Reid went straight into the starting eleven meaning Shaun Rooney was back on the Pars bench. David Hopkirk suffered the same fate making way for the return of Joe Cardle.
The Warriors made three changes from the side that drew on Tuesday night against Brechin City. Following a training ground injury to their on loan keeper Graham Bowman Stenhousemuir brought in Republic of Ireland U19 internationalist Colin McCabe on loan from Celtic. Ciaran Summers and Kieran Millar started with Jim Paterson and Anthony Marenghi dropping out.
Prior to kick off there was a minute silence in respect for former Stenhousemuir and Clyde defender Harry Glasgow who died on Thursday. The hosts kicked off after the teams changed ends but it was the new keeper who was tested by an early Cardle drive. His on target shot from 25 yards out was parried away by McCabe for a corner on the left. Unfortunately the corner was easily defended.
Mark Gilhaney and Millar linked well to set up Stenhousemuir's first chance in sixth minute but Ben Richards-Everton made a good block when Alan Cook got the shot in. Back at the other end Michael Moffat directed a Reid cross on target but his header from ten yards out just did not have enough on it to trouble young McCabe.
There was a period where both sides enjoyed their share of possession without either keeper being deployed. Cook was looking the threat from Stenhousemuir and he earned a 15th minute corner that Andy Geggan headed clear. Cardle and Paton then linked well but the final ball was not good enough to finish. Centre back Euan Murray made a telling tackle ten yards out to deny the former Motherwell defender a debut goal on 18 minutes.
Four minutes later Paton played a fine ball into the right side of the penalty box that Faissal El Bakhtaoui connected with but again not well enough to cause McCabe any problem. There was growing frustration as Stenhousemuir prevented the Pars getting into telling positions and close enough to shoot. El Bakhtaoui's 25th minute effort from distance flew wide right. Then three minutes later Paton's free kick from the right almost brought the opener. El Bakhtaoui fed the ball back for Cardle to strike but the keeper touched the well hit shot on to his crossbar and then dived in to keep out Geggan's follow up at the near post.
Gilhaney ran on to a throw out from McCabe and after exchanging passes with Millar executed a cross that Colin McMenamin just failed to convert. Dunfermline broke fast and El Bakhtaoui had a pop from 20 yards that just bounced out on the wrong side of the right goalpost.
In 37 minutes Cardle played the ball neatly off Moffat to be able to release another ball into the Stenny box but El Bakhtaoui hit his shot narrowly wide. Next Murray kept out a Cardle effort before the Fifers eventually found the net.
Stenhousemuir had produced a nice flowing passing move to get forward but when Jamie McCormack's cross from the right got defended Dunfermline broke at speed. It was Moffat on half way who laced the ball into EL BAKHTAOUI's path for him to break through the left channel before drilling his shot from the edge of the box into the bottom left for the 41st minute opener.
With 63% first half possession, Dunfermline had demonstrated great patience in waiting for their moment and deserved their half time lead.
Half time: Stenhousemuir 0 Dunfermline 1
A Josh Falkingham drive within the opening minute hit the net support behind the left goalpost as the Pars started the second half strongly. Then a 49th minute Stenny free kick was well hit by Jon Robertson and his effort from 25 yards out was kept out by the right goalpost.
Ciaran Summers was yellow carded for a foul on El Bakhtaoui and Geggan struck a hit shot at goal that was deflected off the Warriors wall and then spectacularly turned behind by McCabe. The 52nd minute corner taken short by Paton to Cardle and Joe's cross was headed home by GEGGAN for 2-0.
Talbot crashed a shot wide and Paton had his shot blocked but Dunfermline looked comfortable with the two goal lead. Ryan Wallace replaced Michael Moffat as the match entered its final quarter. Cardle found himself in possession on the left and he tested McCabe with a good shot on the angle. The ball broke to Geggan on the top of the Stenny box but McCabe blocked the Pars skipper's belter of a shot.
David Hopkirk was the next Pars sub as Michael Paton went off and the sub had a nice chip at goal within two minutes of coming on but the ball fell just over the bar. A third Dunfermlione goal was to come in 78th minute. As a result of Talbot robbing possession from an opponent on half way. He sent El Bakhtaoui through and his pass to GEGGAN allowed the captain to crash the ball into the bottom left. 0-3
For his fifth and sixth goals of the season, Geggs was rewarded with an early finish, Rhys McCabe came on as the final Pars sub in 83rd minute. The match had been won and it was really just a case of seeing if another goal could be added. Keeper McCabe saved from a Wallace header.
It was a commanding Dunfermline performance whose lead at the top of League One stretched to eight points as a result of Peterhead's 2-1 win at Ayr.
STENHOUSEMUIR: Colin McCabe; Jamie McCormack, Ross Meechan, Euan Murray, Ciaran Summers; Mark Gilhaney (c), Stephen Stirling, Jon Robertson, Alan Cook (Carlos Mazana-Martinez 62), Kieran Millar (Jason Scotland 54), Colin McMenamin (Lewis Small 79).
SUBS NOT USED: Stuart Malcolm, Liam McCroary, Anthony Marenghi, Sean Robertson (GK).
YELLOW CARD: Summers (52), Murray (83)
DUNFERMLINE: Sean Murdoch; Craig Reid, Brad McKay, Ben Richards-Everton, Jason Talbot; Michael Paton (David Hopkirk 73), Andy Geggan (c) (Rhys McCabe 83), Josh Falkingham, Joe Cardle; Michael Moffat (Ryan Wallace 66), Faissal El Bakhtaoui.
SUBS NOT USED: Shaun Byrne, Shaun Rooney, Paul Joseph Crossan, David Hutton (GK).
SCORERS: El Bakhtaoui (41), Geggan (52, 78)
REFEREE: David Lowe
WEATHER: Rain 5C
NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes League One (home) v Ayr United, Saturday 13th February 2016, kick off 3.00pm
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