Ladbrokes Championship: Dunfermline 3 Livingston 1: 21/10/17
Dunfermline Athletic entertained Livingston in their first home game in three weeks. It was third v second as yet again the Pars met a top team at East End Park.
Fraser Aird started just his second league match for Dunfermline being preferred to Declan McManus. Dean Shiels has served a one match suspension and his one match suspension still outstanding only relates to the Irn Bru (Challenge Cup) so he was listed as a sub alongside the returning Joe Cardle.
Livingston made one change from their side that successfully saw off Dundee United the previous week at the Tony Macaroni Stadium, Dale Carrick replacing Nicky Cadden.
The visitors kicked off and were particularly attacking in the opening ninety seconds putting their hosts under great pressure. Within two minutes however Livingston gifted the first goal of the afternoon. It would be in the bizarre category. Keeper Neil Alexander delayed his clearance about 15 yards out and when he blasted the ball it rebounded off Kallum HIGGINBOTHAM into the net, 1-0
Livingston pushed forward undeterred by the early set back and Sean Murdoch did well to keep out a Josh Mullin effort at the far post in fifth minute. Up until play stopped for an injury to Jackson Longridge five minutes later play was predominantly in the Dunfermline half. There was a free kick pumped into the Livi box from the edge of the centre circle but Callum Morris was blown up for his challenge on that.
Dunfermline`s efforts to get back up the park were led by Aird and Higginbotham but the latter was eventually dispossessed by Penrice. Danny Mullen was able to break into the Pars box in 19th minute only to be closed out but Shaun Byrne`s challenge on Lee Ashcroft`s clearance spun the ball back towards goal but Murdoch came to the rescue.
Next Aird burst through the middle and with the defence parting tried a crack at goal but his sights were much too high. As the midpoint of the first half passed Higginbotham threaded a fine ball through for Ryan Williamson to run on to and cross but unluckily there was no one in the vicinity of his delivery to take advantage.
The second Dunfermline goal on the half hour was a fantastic solo effort from AIRD. The Canadian internationalist met a pass from Jason Talbot on half way, made a strong run up the left, cut inside and when he saw the opportunity, he placed the ball in the top right of the Livi net. A superb goal to make it 2-0.
The Pars style was relaxed but a swift interchange from Aird to Clark and back to Aird set up the pass to HIGGINBOTHAM 20 yards out and he bulged the net with a fine strike. 38 minutes on the clock and it was 3-0.
The Pars saw the half out to go in three ahead at the interval. It had been a case of the home side taking their chances. Four shots, three on target and three goals to show for it. Surely en route to three points.
Half time: Dunfermline 3 Livingston 0
Livingston manager David Hopkin shuffled his line up for the start of the second half. Declan Gallagher came on at the back, Jack McMillan went to right midfield, Nikolay Todorov was moved upfront and Dale Carrick and Josh Mullin were withdrawn.
Within two minutes of coming on Gallagher was shown the first yellow card of the game for dumping Aird on the track. Aird had the first chance to addto the Fifers tally but slipped as he shot from 15 yards and was off target. There was a 52nd minute chance for Callum Smith when Clark cut back from the right byeline but the youngster skied his effort.
The first Dunfermline corner of the afternoon in 57th was blown up by referee Andrew Dallas before it could reach the six yard box for some over enthusiastic challenges. Next minute Aaron Splaine benefited from a fine square ball from Nat Wedderburn to Williamson who then sent the midfielder through on goal but unfortunately the ball ended up in the McCathie Stand.
Clark came closer in 61 minutes after Talbot evaded a rash Todorov challenge to set up the striker. It was the left upright that deflected Clark`s shot behind. In 64 minute Aird sent on a cross that found the head of Clark and he made Alexander tip the ball over his crossbar for another corner from the right but Livi blocked Clark`s shot.
Two minutes later the West Lothian side got their best chance this far when De-Vita took the ball to the left byeline and cut back for Mullen but from the edge of the six yard box, he failed to take the chance.
Todorov headed over the bar when 54ty minute substitute Raffaele De-Vita sent in a 71st minute corner from the right. Sub Jack McMillan might have done better had he chosen to shoot when the ball fell to him five minutes later but crossed instead and the chance was gone.
There was a double substitution made by Allan Johnston with nine minutes remaining. Fraser Aird went off to much aplomb and there was a great welcome back for Joe Cardle. Andy Ryan came on for Callum Smith at the same time.
The points looked well and truly in the Fifers bag and valiant attempts by the opponents got them an 87th minute consolation. Todorov headed down McMillan`s cross from a corner on the left and MULLEN turned the ball in from six yards. 3-1
Livingston pushed up for another but it was far too late for a dramatic finale. Fraser Aird was named Man of the Match as the Pars went back to second top, two points behind St Mirren who were held to a scoreless draw at Falkirk.
DUNFERMLINE: Sean Murdoch: Ryan Williamson, Callum Morris (c), Lee Ashcroft, Jason Talbot: Kallum Higginbotham, Aaron Splaine, Nat Wedderburn, Fraser Aird (Joe Cardle 81): Callum Smith (Andy Ryan 81), Nicky Clark.
SUBS NOT USED: Lewis Martin, Declan McManus, Jean-Yves M`Voto, Dean Shiels, Cammy Gill (GK).
SCORERS: Higginbotham (2, 38), Aird (30)
LIVINGSTON: Neil Alexander: Nikolay Todorov, Alan Lithgow, Craig Halkett, Jackson Longridge (Raffaele De Vita 54): Josh Mullin (Declan Gallagher HT), Shaun Byrne, Scott Pittman, Daniel Mullen, Dale Carrick (Jack McMillan HT), James Penrice
SUBS NOT USED: Keaghan Jacobs, Dylan Mackin, Matthew Knox, Gary Maley (GK)
SCORERS: Mullen (87)
YELLOW CARD: Gallagher (47), Penrice (67), Byrne (90+1)
REFEREE: Andrew Dallas
WEATHER: Damp 13C
NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship (away) v Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Saturday 28th October 2017, kick off 3.00pm at the Caledonian Stadium.
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