Ladbrokes Championship: Dunfermline 2 Dundee 2: 02/08/19
The Pars league campaign kicked off against newly demoted Dundee on a Friday night in front of the BBC Scotland cameras that provided live coverage of the SPFL opener.
It was a vastly changed team that Stevie Crawford put out with only Lewis Martin and Lee Ashcroft surviving from the team that started in the final league match of the 2018-2019 season at Inverness just three months ago. From the side that defeated East Kilbride the previous Saturday eighteen year old Lewis McCann came in to take the place of the suspended Kyle Turner.
Dundee now under the charge of James McPake also had a much changed look but they had five survivors from the starting eleven against St Mirren on 18th May. Not having conceded a goal in their four Betfred Cup matches, Dundee fielded the same starting eleven and subs bench as saw Inverness Caley Thistle off on Sunday.
Sunshine bathed the East Stand that accommodated the travelling support as the teams emerged for kick off. McCann got the game underway and within 30 seconds Paul Paton had a crack from just outside the box but launched the ball well into the Dundee supporters.
There was a second minute free kick that caused early optimism after Jordan Marshall cut down Ryan Dow, unfortunately Dowâ€™s delivery was too strong and the visitors could breath again. Two minutes later 16 year old Finlay Robertson was able to send a set piece in from the right that Josh Meekings headed on target and it required a good save from Ryan Scully, tipping the ball over his bar to keep the ball out.
A Dow corner from the right in seventh minute was heavy and no threat came about as a result. Then three minutes later a neat break set up Paton for a first time cross but his ball in from the right was just taken out by Meekings.
Meekings was shown yellow in making a critical interception to stop Dow on the edge of the Dundee box. Ashcroft met the free kick played over by Dow but keeper Jack Hamilton held the on target header. The keeper however could do little to prevent the Pars going ahead with their next attack.
After a poor back pass by Cammy Kerr, Kevin Nisbet dispossessed Jordan Forster on the left touchline and he laced the ball in for the in running DOW to find the visitorsâ€™ net. 1-0.
Lewis Martin made a great run up the left to eventually pick out McCann and his on target shot from 20 yards was deflected behind off Forster. Next in 20 minutes Dow worked his way through the defence on the left edge of the box, made ground and tried to pick out Nisbet in front of goal when maybe a less unselfish shot would have worked better.
The Fifers were well and truly on fire at this stage but Dundee managed to get some passes together and managed play the game in the Pars half. Ashcroft conceded a free kick 35 yards out at the midway stage of the first half but when former Falkirk player, Jordan McGhee hit that into the McCathie Stand there were welcome cheers from the home support.
In 26 minutes Dow sent Nisbet deep into the right side of the Dundee box but when he sent the ball across the six yard box there was no one there to convert. Then Josh Coley evaded the offside trap to run on to ball again on the right. His left footed cross was good but no takers.
There was some very good build up play before eventually Martinâ€™s delivery from the left was headed wide by Nisbet on the half hour. Then Hamilton clutched a Nisbet cross but the next one on 35 minutes critically he missed. Dow received the pass from Comrie and then provided the cross from the right and the ball travelled all the way across the face of goal to NISBET who headed home. 2-0
Five minutes from the break Nisbet was able to compose himself for his shot from the right side of the box but the ball hit the corner of bar and left goalpost and from eight yards Coleyâ€™s follow up from an angle was blasted over the bar to a chorus of boos from the Dee fans.
Dunfermline were coasting towards a two goal half time lead when Dundee were awarded a really soft penalty. A Kerr cross from the right travelled across the box and when the ball broke off Dow, referee Greg Aitken pointed to the spot. Danny JOHNSTON stepped up and converted the 45th minute penalty kick in the bottom left corner. 2-1
Half time: Dunfermline 2 Dundee 1
James McPake made two changes prior to the second half kicking off, Josh Meekings and Andy Nelson went off to be replaced by Josh Todd and Declan McDaid.
The first half stats had suggested Dundee had the bulk of the possession but when it came to shots Dunfermline were well ahead and continued to press from the restart. After the initial assault however Dundee with especially their subs creating danger in front of goal.
For the first time in the game Shaun Byrne began to make his presence felt. He fired a cross over the goalmouth and McDaid had an effort blocked. Ashcroft took a booking for the team as he took down Todd just 19 yards out. Johnston drove the free kick into the five man wall and from the resultant corner McGhee sent his shot high.
Back at the other end Nisbet hit a low shot from the right that tantalisingly fell outside the left upright. Matthew Todd replaced Josh Coley on the hour and set up a breakaway for McCann but his return was just too far ahead of the Pars sub.
Hamilton held a Todd effort as the sub was making quite an impact on a central role behind Nisbet. Josh Edwards was also introduced for the tiring McCann who had given his all.
In 72 minutes Ashcroft cleared a McDaid corner in from the right and the home side were really looking for counterattacks at this stage. Edwards almost sent in Nisbet but Dundee cleared the danger but then Dundee were awarded another penalty and a decision that incensed Ryan Scully and Lee Ashcroft. Johnston burst into the Pars box between Comrie and Ashcroft and went down eight yards out despite Ashcroft winning the ball. Referee Aitken was not to be moved. JOHNSTON stood over the ball while things calmed down and then sunk the 75th minute penalty to Scullyâ€™s right. 2-2
As the clock ran down it was Dundee who had their tails up and were creating the greater danger. Paton and Comrie combined to clear another attack. Euan Murray mopped up the danger created by McDaid and Johnston and McGhee whizzed an effort over the bar.
As the match entered added time Edwards launched a free kick into the Dee box in search of Ashcroftâ€™s head but the ball slipped behind. There one final Pars opportunity with a corner from the left in the third minute of time added but that was defended and it was to be one point a piece.
It was a game of two halves with Dundee recovering from their first half mauling to severely test the home side. Opinion was that the two Dundee penalties was doubtful and certainly they might not have scored otherwise.
It was a match where Stevie Crawfordâ€™s side played with great energy but had to contain opposition who were boosted by their goals from the spot.
DUNFERMLINE: Ryan Scully: Aaron Comrie, Euan Murray, Lee Ashcroft, Lewis Martin: Paul Paton (c), Ryan Dow, Tom Beadling, Josh Coley (Matthew Todd 60): Kevin Nisbet, Lewis McCann (Josh Edwards 69).
SUBS NOT USED: Andy Ryan, Tom Lang, Stuart Morrison, Paul Allan, Cammy Gill (GK)
SCORERS: Dow (13), Nisbet (35)
YELLOW CARD: Beadling (25), Coley (52), Ashcroft (57)
DUNDEE: Jack Hamilton: Cammy Kerr, Jordan Forster, Josh Meekings (Declan McDaid HT), Jordan McGhee, Shaun Byrne, Paul McGowan, Finlay Robertson, Jordan Marshall, Andrew Nelson (Josh Todd HT), Danny Johnson.
SUBS NOT USED: Josh Mulligan, Callum Moore, Lyall Cameron, Michael Cunningham, Calum Ferie (GK).
SCORERS: Johnston (45 pen., 75 pen.)
YELLOW CARD: Meekings (12)
REFEREE: Greg Aitken
WEATHER: Sunny 17C
NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship: (away) v Queen of the South, Saturday 10th August 2019, kick off 3.00pm at Palmerston Park.