Ladbrokes Championship: Dunfermline 1 Queen of the South 0: 02/03/19
Ryan Blair’s first goal for Dunfermline Athletic secured the Pars fourth successive win, one that lifted them into a play off position.
Stevie Crawford made one change to his starting line up, preferring Aidan Connolly to Louis Longridge who found himself on the bench beside his brother Jackson.
For Queen of the South their manager, Gary Naysmith brought in former Par Fraser Aird, Barry Maguire making way for the Canadian internationalist. Injuries including Josh Todd who scored the Queens winner last time here, meant that the visitors had only five subs on their bench. The Doonhamers had lost five matches in a row but they were hoping that the bad luck that had contributed to those poor results, would be behind them.
Stephen Dobbie got the match underway with Queens attacking the goal at the McCathie Stand end. First chance came Dunfermline’s way in three minutes. A James Craigen ball into the box saw Kallum Higginbotham connect in front of goal but he sent his effort at keeper Alan Martin.
Three minutes later a foul on Lyndon Dykes handed Queens a free kick on the edge of the box but Dobbie shot low and outside the right post. On the left side of the box Kyle Jacobs received a good pass from Dobbie to send the ball across the Pars box but the defence held.
On the quarter hour Scott Mercer launched a cross in from the right and Michael Doyle’s header then directed the ball wide right. Next a Dobbie cross was sent behind by Lee Ashcroft but the defence cleared only for Aird to belt the ball from 35 yards but straight at Ryan Scully.
Dobbie embarked on a 19th minute run and was unlucky that his one two off Dykes on the edge of the box failed. When Bruce Anderson was fouled on the edge of the box Ryan Blair took charge of the 23rd minute free kick. He hit a great shot round the five man Queens wall to cause Martin to pull off a fantastic one handed save high up to the top left corner.
Next opportunity came in 31 minutes when Highinbotham chipped an inviting ball into the opposition box but with the pitch wet with fresh rainfall Williamson slipped as he tried to make the cut back. The Fifers were beginning to show more signs of a threat with a few series of passes and more play territorially in the opposition half.
Queen of the South reclaimed the superiority however in the final ten minutes of the first half. Dobbie had a drive from 25 yards that was deflected behind off Tom Beadling and from Aird’s corner on the right there was a bit of a scramble with Callum Fordyce blocked out as he tried to move the ball closer to goal.
Dobbie fired another in from the left but that was cut out before the next chance from a Williamson cut back that picked out Anderson and his touch took the ball narrowly wide left.
Aird has a pop from 25 yards that just didn’t curl enough to find the net at the right post. Then from a Michael Doyle cross Williamson put his keeper under pressure with a strong pass back but Ryan Scully kept it out and it was to remain goalless at the interval. There had been five shots apiece but the stats showed advantage Queens 53% to 47%.
Half time: Dunfermline 0 Queen of the South 0
First showing in the fifth minute of the second half was a 20 yard effort from Connolly that was rising all the way and cleared Martin’s crossbar. Blair hit a long ball for Anderson and in trying to usher it out Brownlie concedes a corner on the left but when that came over Devine was penalised for a push that flattened his marker.
Connolly created danger with a 58th minute cross that Jacobs headed clear from under his crossbar. Unfortunately for him he was substituted next minute to make way for Louis Longridge.
The sub’s first task was to thwart a good move between Mercer and Doyle that looked like getting the former Par in on goal. Longridge’s confident intervention was a welcome relief.
Back at the other end a Williamson cross caused further trouble and Longridge was prevented a return as Queens conceded another corner. The crowd rallied and the corner allowed Ashcroft to rise and knock the ball down with Anderson flicking the shot over the bar.
Jackson Longridge then joined his brother on the park, Kallum Higginbotham was withdrawn and James Craigen moved to right midfield. Two corners ensued from the left but Queens skimmed the ball away with just the inrunning Beadling landing up in the net.
Dobbie had been quiet this half but in 73 minutes his cross was spilled by Scully thankfully with Doyle homing in the keeper he recovered the ball.
He had produced the best effort of the first half so it was justice when Ryan BLAIR made the 74th minute breakthrough. J Longridge sent the square ball in from the left and the on loan player opened his Dunfermline account with a powerful shot low to the keeper’s left. 1-0
With ten minutes remaining Brownlie was shown yellow for his take out of Anderson 28 yards out. Blair drove the free kick into the Queen of the South wall but the Pars turned up the pressure with L Longridge picking out Anderson from the left, his header being held by Martin.
Gary Naysmith committed his final two subs immediately before an 85th minute corner was taken. Andy Stirling and Barry Maguire replaced Darren Brownlie and Iain Wilson and there was some serious defending to be done. Dykes got in two good efforts with L Longridge stopping the first and the second driven into defenders.
Stirling got himself through to bullet an attempt over the crossbar before L Longridge had the chance to finish the contest. He gathered Anderson’s delivery from the right and looked like sticking it away but Martin came out and got enough on it to direct the ball wide.
The Dumfries men finished strongly and had two really good opportunities to grab an equaliser. Some dogged defending and a Scully save from a Maguire header kept them out. The home side extend their shut out record to 373 minutes.
The win, their fourth successive in the Championship, took Dunfermline to their highest league position since the opening day of the season.
DUNFERMLINE: Ryan Scully: Ryan Williamson, Lee Ashcroft (c), Danny Devine, James Craigen: Kallum Higginbotham (Jackson Longridge 68), Tom Beadling: Joe Thomson, Ryan Blair (Mark Durnan 89): Aidan Connolly (Louis Longridge 59), Bruce Anderson.
SUBS NOT USED: Matthew Todd, Callum Smith, Robbie Muirhead, Cammy Gill (GK)
SCORERS: Blair (74)
YELLOW CARD: Blair (38)
QUEEN OF THE SOUTH: Alan Martin: Scott Mercer, Jordan Marshall, Callum Fordyce, Darren Brownlie (Andy Stirling 85, Michael Doyle, Fraser Aird (Ian McGrath 78), Kyle Jacobs, Iain Wilson (Barry Maguire 85), Stephen Dobbie, Lyndon Dykes.
SUBS NOT USED: Connor Murray, Jack Leighfield (GK).
YELLOW CARD: Brownlee (80)
REFEREE: Gavin Duncan
WEATHER: Cloudy 9C
NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship (away) v Alloa Athletic, Saturday 9th Match 2019, 3.00pm kick off at Indodrill Stadium.
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