Ladbrokes Championship: Ross County1 Dunfermline 0: 09/04/19
Dunfermline travelled to Dingwall for this league match against the Championship leaders. Manager Stevie Crawford promised that his side would be going out to take all three points and he made one change from the side that drew against Partick Thistle, Faissal El Bakhtaoui dropping to the bench and Myles Hippolyte promoted from it.
Ross County made three changes with all three players who had previously been at Dunfermline - Declan McManus, Lewis Spence and Dan Armstrong - being dropped to the bench. In their place County started Don Cowie, Brian Graham and Michael Gardyne as they hoped to go eight points clear at the top.
Hippolyte kicked off for the Fifers attacking the goal in front of the home fans and made a strong start. Within the first minute a back flip from Hippolyte on a fine pass from Matt Todd almost found Bruce Anderson in front of goal. Louis Longridge won the first of six first half corners and from that Ryan Blair`s low delivery found Hippolyte but his shot was cleared.
James Craigen and L Longridge then manufactured a sixth minute chance for Anderson but that was blocked and then a great follow up attempt by Todd was tipped over his crossbar by Scott Fox. Two corners were then taken from the right and eventually Marcus Fraser headed away the Fifers threat.
Ross County 1-0 Dunfermline
Tue, 9th Apr 2019
The Fifers piled on the pressure with a Blair pass seeking out Jackson Longridge only for referee Don Robertson to blow play up. The hosts eased things with Josh Mullin winning a free kick on the right much to the annoyance of the travelling support. Sean Kelly`s effort came back through Gardyne to Graham and then Lindsay but his cut back was cleared by Lee Ashcroft.
Cowie conceded a 15th minute corner but when that came in it went behind off Tom Beadling at the far post. Anderson then had the ball in the net but he was offside from Hippolyte`s back heeler. Next Ross Stewart won a free kick 35 yards out only for Mullin`s delivery to sail over County`s Andy Boyle and the Pars bar.
Fox gathered a high Craigen cross into the box before in 27 minutes Todd was very unlucky not to notch the opener. His shot came back off the inside of Fox`s right post with the keeper beaten.
On the half hour Craigen had a pop and was not far off the mark, his curling effort escaping wide left. Louis Longridge appeared to injure his shoulder and was subsequently subbed by Faissal El Bakhtaoui in 34 minutes. Faiss was to play through the middle with Hippolyte moving to wide left.
Two minutes later County forced a corner after Mullin`s tricky cross was sent behind off Danny Devine. Mullin took the corner short to Gardyne but Van Der Weg was pulled up for impeding Scully.
Todd next fired a snapshot attempt over the County bar and with the interval approaching El Bakhtaoui got his head to a Hippolyte cross but ball deflected off a defender into Fox`s hands. Todd forced the first of what was to be three more corners. Devine`s header was punched away by Fox but from the subsequent corner Kelly headed clear.
In time added at the end of the first half Kenny Van der Weg required treatment after pulling up and Tom Grivosti replaced him before play restarted and the half time whistle. After the first 45 minutes Ross County had to be happy to go in all square.
Half time: Ross County 0 Dunfermline 0
The home side made an immediate reaction to their half time team talk. Scully had to tip over a Gardyne shot from 25 yards out in the first minute of the second half. Graham shot wide from the corner but four minutes later the Pars keeper had to save a low shot from Lindsay. Next Graham`s effort from close range was blocked by Scully.
County pressed further and Craigen stopped a Gardyne effort and Ashcroft headed the return clear. The Pars defended a Mullin free kick in 56 minutes and Devine cleared a Kelly cross before the home side won a corner off Ashcroft on the hour mark. This time unfortunately there was no stopping GRIVOSTI`s powerful header on meeting Mullin`s delivery from the left. 1-0
The Staggies almost doubled their lead from another Mullin corner within two minutes of going ahead. Stewart directed his header on target and El Bakhtaoui cleared off the line.
Dunfermline tried to respond through a Blair free kick and then corner kick but were not to trouble Fox. Robbie Muirhead replaced Myles Hippolyte and then Lewis McCann took the place of Matt Todd. In between Gardyne and Mullin broke and the no.14`s right footed shot from the centre of the box was well saved by Scully.
J Longridge cleared in 77 minutes when Mullin sent the ball in from a free kick 28 yards out. A goalmouth scramble followed but the scoreline did not change. Muirhead tried a shot from distance that Fox gathered but Ross County saw the game out to take all the points.
Disappointing from a Pars perspective because they probably deserved something from the game given their excellent first half.
Elsewhere Ayr United defeated Queen of the South to go nine points ahead of Dunfermline with a game in hand. Inverness are now the next closest side in fourth but they are eight points ahead with both clubs having four games to go.
ROSS COUNTY: Scott Fox: Marcus Fraser, Sean Kelly, Andy Boyle, Kenny van der Weg (Tom Grivosti 45+2), Jamie Lindsay, Josh Mullin, Don Cowie, Michael Gardyne (Lewis Spence 88), Brian Graham (Declan McManus 82), Ross Stewart.
SUBS NOT USED: Dan Armstrong, Callum Semple, Harry Paton, Ross Munro (GK)
SCORERS: Grivosti (60)
YELLOW CARD: Lindsay (79), Kelly (90+2)
DUNFERMLINE: Ryan Scully: James Craigen, Danny Devine, Lee Ashcroft (c), Jackson Longridge: Tom Beadling: Louis Longridge (Faissal El Bakhtaoui 34), Matthew Todd (Lewis McCann 82), Ryan Blair: Myles Hippolyte (Robbie Muirhead 70), Bruce Anderson
SUBS NOT USED: Ryan Williamson, Mark Durnan, James Vincent, Cameron Gill (GK)
YELLOW CARD: Anderson (78)
REFEREE: Don Robertson
WEATHER: Cold 7C
NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship: (home) v Falkirk Saturday 13th April 2019, kick off 3.00pm at East End Park.
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