Irn Bru Cup: Dunfermline 2 Arbroath 0: 15/08/17
The Pars welcomed Arbroath back to East End Park for a first round tie in this season’s Irn Bru Cup competition. There were plenty of Pars connections on the Lichties’ bench, and another on the pitch where David Hutton was the last line of defence in what looked like their strongest line-up.
Manager Allan Johnston made a number of changes but stuck to his normal formation. Jason Talbot moved to left centre-back in place of Lee Ashcroft, allowing Conner Duthie to come in at left-back. the entire midfield quarter was changed, with Michael Paton and Aaron Splaine starting in the middle and Fraser Aird right and Scott Lochhead left. new signing Andy Ryan would lead the attack with David Hopkirk playing in a slightly deeper role.
Skipper Callum Morris won the toss and elected to kick the traditional way, towards the Cowdenbeath end, which saw most of the early action, with Aird prominent on the right, twice collecting a pass from Hopkirk, but being unable to cause much danger on either occasion.
The first chance fell in seven minutes, with a good passing movement ending with Hopkirk creating space for a shot, but his effort from 25 yards failed to trouble Hutton. Soon after there were a couple of near things – first Ryan latched onto a long ball and although he took the ball past Hutton he was forced wide, and Aird couldn’t get on the end of his cut-back. Seconds later it was Lochhead wriggling through the Lichties’ rearguard, this time finding Aird, but he blasted over from 12 yards.
Another good opportunity presented itself on the quarter-hour when Hopkirk was put through but Hutton dived to his left to divert the ball away for the Pars’ first corner.
The home team were enjoying the bulk of possession, although Duthie had to look lively midway through the half when Barr nearly got away from him. Soon after pressure from Hopkirk won another corner and although that came to nothing, the breakthrough was made shortly after. Again Hopkirk applied pressure, this time on O’Brien, who failed to deal with a long ball from Paton. his header fell to RYAN who volleyed home from 12 yards.
Five minutes later and we had another key moment –Hopkirk latched onto a long ball through the middle, and appeared to get the better of both centre-backs, but went to ground as he burst clear. The referee took his time, gave a free-kick just outside the box, but red carded Little for pulling Hopkirk back. Splaine took the free kick, but cleared the bar by a yard.
Dick Campbell was quick to rejig his line up, dropping Yule back to plug the defensive gap, with Swankie moving into the middle, before offering the linesman some friendly advice, presumably with regard to the previous decision. The visitors tried to hit back almost immediately when a quickly taken free-kick nearly caught the Pars napping, but Lochhead got back to block, before Linn nearly surprised Murdoch from distance.
However, the Pars double their lead five minutes before the break. Aird won a corner on the right, which he took himself, and this lead to another on the left. Aird took this one as well, and landed it on the head of RYAN who nodded home from 6 yards.
Half time: Dunfermline 2 Arbroath 0
The Pars started the second period brightly, Lochhead had an early shooting chance but tried to engineer a better one, only to be dispossessed inside the box, before Williamson got to the bye line and chipped in a cross. With a debut hat-trick there for the taking, Andy Ryan mistimed his header and it looped over the bar.
Thereafter the game got a bit scrappy, with a succession of off-side flags punctuating the action. Declan McManus had come on for David Hopkirk, before Callum Smith replaced Andy Ryan, who received well-deserved applause. Hutton dealt comfortably with a firm McManus shot, although was less convincing with a long-range effort from Aird, which squirmed out of his hands.
At the other end Duthie had survived a shout for a penalty when he blocked Barr’s attempted flick and Murdoch was relieved just before the hour mark when he mistimed his rush from goal, although perhaps he did enough as Doris saw his shot go beyond the far post.
Arbroath made a triple substitution in seventy three minutes, before the Pars made their last change, Wedderburn replacing Talbot in the Pars’ defence. The officials were kept busy, with Yule being cautioned for obstructing McManus (Aird trying and failing to catch out Hutton at the near post) and Splaine following him into the book for a clumsy challenge 25 yards from goal, Swankie’s free-kick landing on the roof of the net.
If anything, it was the visitors who seemed to be looking the likelier, Duthie being beaten again by Kader, before recovering with a well-timed tackle 8 yards from goal, Murdoch hacking the loose ball clear. Paton gave away another free-kick with two minutes left, and this time Hamilton headed over.
With the match heading into stoppage time there was still time for late drama, Duthie getting himself sent off incurring two bookings in much less than a minute. The first was for a foul on the touchline, the second for poking the ball away after a second foul in a more central position, when a quick free kick was unlikely to be possible.
After Duthie had trudged off, with the dawning realisation that he would be suspended from the next round, Swankie crashed the free-kick off the bar, the ball was cleared and the game was over.
DUNFERMLINE: Sean Murdoch: Ryan Williamson, Callum Morris (c) Jason Talbot (Nat Wedderburn 75), Conner Duthie: Fraser Aird, Aaron Splaine, Michael Paton, Scott Lochhead: David Hopkirk (Declan McManus 53), Andy Ryan (Callum Smith 64).
SUBS NOT USED: Kallum Higginbotham, Dean Shiels, Joe Cardle, Cammy Gill (GK)
SCORERS: Ryan (24, 40)
YELLOW CARD: Splaine (78), Duthie (90+2)
RED CARD: Duthie (90+2)
ARBROATH: David Hutton, Mark Whatley (c) , Colin Hamilton, Ricky Little, Thomas O’Brien, Blair Yule, Bobby Linn (Omar Kader, 73), Ryan McCord (Jamie Henry, 73), Steven Doris (Bryan Prunty, 73), Gavin Swankie, Danny Denholm
SUBS NOT USED: Kane Hester, David Gold, Josh Skelly, Ricky Gomes (GK).
YELLOW CARD: McCord (67), Yule (77), Prunty (87)
RED CARD: Little (30)
REFEREE: Euan Anderson
WEATHER: Clear 15C
NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship: (home) v Falkirk, Saturday 19th August 2017, kick off 3.00pm at East End Park
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