Ladbrokes Championship: Dunfermline 0 Dundee United 1: 26/03/19
Second placed Dundee United took on fifth placed Dunfermline Athletic who were unchanged from the team that started at the Indodrill Stadium two Saturdays back while United made four changes from the side they fielded against Alloa on Saturday. Pavlov Safranko returned from international duty with Slovakia, Ian Harkes, Charlie Seaman and Peter Pawlett started meaning Nicky Clark, Sam Stanton, Paul Watson dropped to the bench and there was no Matty Smith.
The home bench welcomed back from injury Faissal El Bakhtaoui. It was the visitors who kicked off attacking the goal at the McCathie Stand end. United took the game to their opponents straight away but the first danger came from a Ryan Blair free kick that travelled through the box and out beyond the left upright.
The Taysiders were awarded a sixth minute free kick midway into the Pars half when Lee Ashcroft rather physically stopped the run of Pawlett but they failed to put the setpiece to good use. Two minutes later Bruce Anderson did really well to poke the ball through between two defenders and release Kallum Higginbotham down the right. His ball In was searching for both Anderson and Louis Longridge and had it ran on to the latter the result might have been better. The on loan Dons player tried to convert but the ball did not sit up for him.
Dunfermline 0-1 Dundee United
Tue, 26th Mar 2019
The thirteenth minute saw Dunfermline create the first good opportunity of the match. From the right Anderson ran the ball along the top of the United box before laying it off to L Longridge and his shot from 20 yards was captured by keeper Benjamin Siegrist at the second attempt.
The home fans enjoyed watching their team starting to gain plenty of possession in the United half and in 19th minute L Longridge slipped the ball wide for his brother and his delivery cause panic but the defence just eight yards out, prevented the well placed Blair getting in a shot.
Dundee United were to take the lead in 24 minutes when his great turn of pace allowed PAWLETT a run into the home box to slip the ball in at the left goalpost. 0-1
It had been 487 minutes since Dunfermline had last conceded a goal but immediately they came close to conceding another when Safranko powered a shot from a corner on the right but the net bound effort was blocked.
Blair delivered a 30th minute corner from the left but Ashcroftâ€™s glancing header dropped wide right. Ryan Scully pulled off a couple of great saves to prevent Pawlett who sun to shoot and then from both Butcher and Safranko.
Five minutes from the interval a penetrating run by McMullan down the right got him deep into the Pars box but his shot was saved at the near post by Scully and went behind off an attacker wide right. Higginbotham then tried to chip a ball into the right side of the opposition box but it was too strong for Craigen to catch.
Final chance of the first half was a superb header from Safranko that he powered wide narrowly right. Superb saves by Scully certainly ensured that Dunfermline were still in the match at the interval.
Half time: Dunfermline 0 Dundee United 1
Dunfermline looked well up for the second half with L Longridge running from deep to set up a 48th minute cross that was just too much ahead of the in running Anderson. Then at the other end Scully turned a Pawlett shot around his right hand post. Fortunately Mark Reynolds corner was not to trouble the Pars defence.
The home side fought back with Craigen driving towards the United box and chipping the ball across goal. Thomson gathered but he could only clip the ball back across goal and out.
McMullan was claiming for a 62nd minute penalty when his shot went behind off Ashcroft but he only got the corner and again the defence won the ball. Two minutes later the home crowd rose as Anderson ran on to a through ball but the offside flag went up much to their displeasure.
The heat rose with a couple of late tackles on Jackson Longridge and then Anderson but it was the away support that broke into doing when Safranko forced a corner off Ashcroft at the midpoint of the second half. Pawlett sent the ball in from the right and Safranko met that with a header that just cleared the crossbar.
Faissal El Bakhtaoui replaced Kallum Higginbotham for the last twenty minutes. The Pars defended a 72nd minute before El Bakhtaoui was taken out on the far touchline by Robson. That earned the United man a yellow card and Blair the opportunity to deliver a free kick in. It resulted in a corner but neither setpiece changed anything.
Matthew Todd subbed Ryan Blair and Nicky Clark replaced Paul McMullan but time was running out for the Fifers. In 82 minutes J Longridge received the ball from a throw in down on the left, he cut inside, beat two men as he made ground into the penalty box but when he executed a fine pass through the box there were just no takers.
Myles Hippolyte was introduced for L Longridge and there was a push for the equaliser. There were a number of close things with Ashcroft heading down for the strikers but United clearing. Scully went up for an added time corner and El Bakhtaoui whistled a shot from 25 yards narrowly wide.
Dundee United proved to be too good for the Pars who were not to end their eleven and a half year run without a home win over the Tannadice club. The three points take them to within two points of league leaders Ross Country. Inverness recorded a home win over Alloa Athletic to move into third with 45 points, five more than Dunfermline in fifth place.
Ayr United sit between Inverness and Dunfermline on 43 points albeit with two matches in hand on those two teams. That sets up Friday nightâ€™s home match against Ayr as an opportunity to retake fourth place.
DUNFERMLINE: Ryan Scully: James Craigen, Lee Ashcroft (c), Danny Devine, Jackson Longridge: Tom Beadling, Ryan Blair (Matthew Todd 78): Joe Thomson, Louis Longridge (Myles Hippolyte 84), Kallum Higginbotham (Faissal El Bakhtaoui 70): Bruce Anderson.
SUBS NOT USED: James Vincent, Ryan Williamson, Mark Durnan, Cammy Gill (GK)
YELLOW CARD: Devine (45), L Longridge (75)
DUNDEE UNITED: Benjamin Siegrist: Charlie Seaman (Paul Watson 86), Rachid Bouhenna, Mark Reynolds (c), Callum Booth: Calum Butcher: Paul McMullan (Nicky Clark 79), Ian Harkes, Jamie Robson: Peter Pawlett (Sam Stanton 69): Pavol Safranko.
SUBS NOT USED: Aidan Nesbitt, Fraser Fyvie, Morgaro Gomis, Ross Laidlaw (GK)
SCORERS: Pawlett (24)
YELLOW CARD: Robson (77)
REFEREE: Euan Anderson
WEATHER: Dry 9C
NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship: (home) v Ayr United, Friday 29th March 2019, kick off 7.05pm