Ladbrokes Championship: Inverness Caley Thistle 1 Dunfermline 0: 04/05/19
The final match of Dunfermline Athletic’s season was played on a cold Saturday in May. Ryan Scully was ill and Jackson Longridge was suspended so Stevie Crawford brought in Lewis Martin, Stuart Morrison, Kallum Higginbotham and Cammy Gill. Myles Hippolyte dropped to the bench and James Vincent was missing. For 21 year old Gill and 20 year old Morrison this was their league debut for Dunfermline but they both members of the last Pars team to win in Inverness.
No doubt with an eye on the impending play offs, John Robertson left out six players - Liam Polworth, Aaron Doran, Anthony McDonald, Jamie McCart, Carl Tremarco and Cammy Mackay. Into the home side came Mark Ridgers, Darren McCauley, Nathan Austin, Tom Walsh and two former Pars Brad McKay and Kevin McHattie.
The Fifers defeated Caley Thistle at the Caledonian Stadium earlier this season when they knocked the holders out of the Irn Bru Cup but they were in search of their first league success there since 2007.
Bruce Anderson kicked off with the visitors attacking the goal at the Kessock bridge end. A second minute corner was sent over from the left by Walsh but Lee Ashcroft headed the danger away. Next however Jordan White’s glancing header on a cross from the other side dropped wide left of target.
In sixth minute Gill was out of his box to clear a through ball that White was chasing and next minute when Mark Durnan pushed over Austin down by the right corner flag, Joe Chalmers delivered into the box and when it reached Shaun Rooney on the far side of the box to took him by surprise and the defence cleared.
When Louis Longridge sent the Pars first corner over from the right Anderson, Morrison and Higginbotham all had driven shots blocked and then Higginbotham’s cross travelled out beyond the far post. That meant that Caley keeper Ridgers first involvement was from the 15th minute goal kick
A moment of uncertainty from Danny Devine allowed Austin into the left side of the Pars box but fortunately his effort was sent wide right. Walsh sent over the home side’s 18th minute corner but Ryan Blair headed that away and then a McCauley cross from the left was headed wide right by Austin.
Despite a period of possession, Dunfermline had been kept well away from Ridgers and Longridge’s shot at the midway point of the half was well off target from 20 yards out.
A pass from Craigen to Higginbotham to his left then picked out Anderson and he did well to wrong foot Chalmers to get in for a low shot that Ridgers held diving to his right.
Gill dived forward to punch away a dangerous cross from McHattie that was swerving away from him. Rooney flashed a cross in from the right that everyone then missed and as the sun made an appearance the Fifers defended another Walsh corner from the left.
When he got the better of Rooney, Higginbotham drove a low ball into the Caley box that was defended out only as far as Blair but his shot from 25 yards was high. Morrison conceded a 34th minute free kick 28 yards out and Chalmers effort cleared the Pars wall and dropped on the roof of the net.
Disaster struck in 35 minutes when a mix up between Morrison and his keeper let AUSTIN in to slot the ball home. Morrison’s pass back to Gill was too high and that proved fatal. 1-0
After being fouled down at the right corner, Craigen over hit the 41st minute free kick. It had been a fairly even first half as the stats confirmed just an unfortunate mix up as the young players tried to play the ball out from the back.
Scores elsewhere meant that at the break Dunfermline were sitting seventh in the Championship.
Half Time: Inverness Caley Thistle 1 Dunfermline 0
Jamie McCart replaced Coll Donaldson for the Highlanders before the restart. Higginbotham created a good chance for himself in 48 minutes. Cutting between Rooney and McCauley he chipped an inviting ball to the far post that when headed out was moped up by Devine to feed Higginbotham. His low cutting shot from the edge of the box was tipped around his left hand post by Ridgers.
Caley defended the corner before Austin hit a 52nd minute shot wide right. The match was missing any real goal mouth action and Stevie Crawford committed his first substitution of the afternoon replacing Ryan Blair with Matthew Todd.
Higginbotham created the next chance for Craigen but his shot from the edge of the box was blocked. Then in 63 minutes Higginbotham chipped another ball into the six yard box that won a corner on the right but Longridge’s cross was cleared.
A 70th minute Caley corner was flicked on by McCart but Morrison headed away the threat. Andy Ryan returned to competitive action when Louis Longridge made way for him with 17 minutes remaining. Within two minutes he got his first opportunity, narrowly missing left with a good attempt from 20 yards out.
Gill clawed away a Chalmers cross that dipped in from the left and at the other end Anderson drove at goal but only a bye kick came of it. In 82 minutes Martin sent Ryan in on the left side of the opposition box but when he squared there was no team mate there to convert the chance.
Three minutes later Walsh broke through the defence and his powerful shot was turned on to his right hand post by Gill. Lewis McCann was the final substitution of the day coming on for Kallum Higginbotham two minutes from time. The sub had hard lines when Ryan failed to read his slipped ball into the left side of the box.
Inverness saw the two added minutes at the end of the ninety and they secured third place. The Pars dropped to seventh and the travelling support lined the barriers as the players threw strips to them.
The tannoy blared out ”the only way is up” probably with relevance to both sides.
INVERNESS CALEY THISTLE: Mark Ridgers (c): Shaun Rooney, Coll Donaldson (Jamie McCart HT), Brad McKay, Kevin McHattie, Joe Chalmers, Darren McCauley, Tom Walsh, Charlie Trafford (Liam Polworth 65), Nathan Austin (Aaron Doran 73), Jordan White.
SUBS NOT USED: Anthony McDonald, Cameron Harper, Matheus Machado, Cameron Mackay (GK).
SCORERS: Austin (35)
DUNFERMLINE: Cammy Gill (GK): Mark Durnan, Danny Devine, Lee Ashcroft (c) Lewis Martin: Stuart Morrison: Louis Longridge (Andy Ryan 73), James Craigen, Ryan Blair (Matthew Todd 62), Kallum Higginbotham (Lewis McCann 88): Bruce Anderson.
SUBS NOT USED: Myles Hippolyte, Faissal El Bakhtaoui, Paul Allan, Craig Burt (GK)
REFEREE: Graham Beaton
WEATHER: Cloudy 7C
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