Ladbrokes Championship: Dunfermline 3 St Mirren 0: 16/09/17

It was a top of the table clash when St Mirren were the visitors to East End Park. Having lost the pole position to the Buddies the previous week there was no better incentive to win than faced the Pars in this match.

Allan Johnston named the same starting eleven as kicked off at Cappielow while his opposite number, Jack Ross brought in 21 year old Liam Smith and Gary Irvine was placed on the bench. Otherwise the St Mirren team was unchanged from that which defeated Inverness Caley Thistle 4-2 last time out. That the visitors seeking their first away win over Dunfermline since 2001, would be led by former Pars striker Gavin Reilly who himself was in search of his first goal at East End Park.

Sean Murdoch would make his 100th appearance and he was out to register his 35th Dunfermline shut out in what was his side`s first home game since 19th August.

The visitors kick off attacking the goal at the McCathie Stand end and within two minutes Reilly scurried away from Callum Morris to send a shot wide left of Murdoch`s goal. Dunfermline forced two corners with no return before a fifth minute free kick 30 yards out was hit into the Pars defensive wall by Ian McShane.

An eighth minute feee kick over on the right was flighted over by McShane and this time Jack Baird headed over the bar from the edge of the box. Next it was Lewis Morgan who skipped past defenders to release a left footed shot that was blocked and then a right footed follow up that failed to reach the target.

Joe Cardle had been kept quiet for the first ten minutes but he was claiming for a penalty when stopped by Stephen McGinn and then won a free kick on the left after Liam Smith cut him down. Kallum Higginbotham`s free kick was headed down by Nicky Clark for Lee Ashcroft but the offside flag had been raised.

On the quarter hour Cardle injured himself as he fought Gregor Buchanan for a through ball. Joe went down and despite physio Kenny Murray`s attentions hobbled off meaning David Hopkirk was the first sub of the match in just 18th minute.

The home fans had been subdued by the loss of the Championship`s Player of the Month for August but their mood changed dramatically when Declan McMANUS drilled home a 20th minute opener. The Pars striker latched on to a Higginbotham lay off to fire past Craig Samson. 1-0

Left back Stelios Demetirou forced the visitors` first corner on 25 minutes and it almost, and should have, cost them another goal. Higginbotham raced away on the break and with McManus and Hopkirk further wide racing up field the Pars no.7 laced a fantastic pass into the path of Hoppy but he pulled his shot from 15 yards out across goal and narrowly wide right.

Baird stopped McManus on half way and from the resultant free kick Dunfermline forced a corner on the right followed by a corner on the left. There were eleven players in the St Mirren six yard box as Higginbotham delivered but it was Samson who got to the ball first to fist it clear.

Ryan Williamson won a 33rd minute corner on the right and it was Ashcroft won connected with a low shot that was deflected behind. The September sun came out as Higginbotham crossed again but St Mirren got the ball away.

Liam Smith next sent a long pass forward for Reilly to run on to. He took the ball to his right before cutting back for the inrunning Demetirou but fortunately Williamson beat his opposing no.2 to the ball.

Morgan and Cammy Smith combined to win a 40th corner but Higginbotham headed that away. Two minutes later another Saints corner was headed away by Morris.

It had been a very competitiv, sometimes combative first half and the home side doubled their advantage in 45th minute. Williamson was wide right looking for someone to centre to when HOPKIRK raced in to the edge of the box and dispatched a great finish past Samson. 2-0

So the teams turned around with the Pars two up and no doubt Allan Johnston would be reminding his players that was the very position they fell from the previous Saturday.

Half time: Dunfermline 2 St Mirren 0

Jack Ross made a change for the second half introducing John Sutton for Stelios Demetirou. The half time sub had an early chance from a Morgan corner in from the right but he sent that over the bar. At the other end Higginbotham whacked an attempt high over the bar and in 53 minutes Clark got to the byeline on the right only to see his cut back go over the head of the waiting Hopkirk.

Two minutes later a great run from Williamson saw him cross and Hopkirk cleverly left the ball for the arriving Shiels but his shot was beaten behind for a corner by the keeper. The corner yielded the third Dunfermline goal when MORRIS ran in to meet the ball at the near post and turn it into the Saints net. 3-0

A 63rd minute shot from McManus was blocked by Buchanan and Sutton intercepted a short taken corner three minutes later. Then in 69 minutes a St Mirren free kick from 26 yards out was sent on to the roof of the Pars net by Morgan.

Reilly sent over a cross that went out for a thrown in on the far side before on the counter Shiels fed the ball on to Clark and he turned it back for McManus. With Hopkirk as an option overlapping to his right Declan shot and the effort was parried away by Samson for a 73rd minute corner but the visitors survived that.

Talbot collected a yellow as he and most of the home support objected to a referee`s decision. Buchanan was then fortunate not to collect what would have been a second yellow when he took out Murdoch as he clutched a high ball.

With eight minutes remaining Aaron Splaine came on for Kallum Higginbotham who went off to a standing ovation. McShane had a powerful shot stopped by Wedderburn and at the other end Clark turned and fired over the bar.

Indiscipline cost the visitors two red cards in the closing three minutes to cap a miserable day for the Buddies. Firstly Adam Eckersley used an elbow on Splaine as he went to gather the ball in front of the North West Stand and then Gregor Buchanan collected a second yellow and St Mirren ended the game with just nine men.

The Fifers returned to top the league, one point ahead of their opponents and two ahead of both Morton and Dundee United.
DUNFERMLINE: Sean Murdoch: Ryan Williamson, Callum Morris (c), Lee Ashcroft, Jason Talbot: Kallum Higginbotham (Aaron Splaine 82), Nat Wedderburn, Dean Shiels, Joe Cardle (David Hopkirk 18): Declan McManus, Nicky Clark.
SUBS NOT USED: Callum Smith, Lewis Martin, Fraser Aird, Andy Ryan, Cammy Gill (GK).
SCORERS: McManus (20), Hopkirk (45), Morris (56)
YELLOW CARD: Shiels (9), Ashcroft (40), Williamson (58), Talbot (78)

ST MIRREN: Craig Samson: Jack Baird, Adam Eckersley, Gregor Buchanan, Liam Smith: Ian McShane, Stelios Demetriou (John Sutton HT), Stephen McMinn, Lewis Morgan, Gavin Reilly (Ross Stewart 75), Cameron Smith (Josh Todd 79)
SUBS NOT USED: Jordan Kirkpatrick, Darryl Duffy, Gary Irvine, Ross Stewart (GK).
YELLOW CARD: Buchanan (49), McGinn (74)
RED CARD: Eckersley (87), Buchanan (88)

REFEREE: Craig Thomson
WEATHER: Cloudy 12C

NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship: (away) v Brechin City. Saturday 23rd September 2017, 3.0m kick off at Glebe Park

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