Ladbrokes Championship: Dunfermline 2 Dundee United 0: 29/02/20

Dundee United returned to East End Park with an 18 point lead at the top of the Ladbrokes Championship. The home team however, were hoping for a win to keep another match away from what seems a certain United title win.

Stevie Crawford was without Ryan Dow out with a hamstring injury but on loan Don, Ethan Ross came in to replace him in an otherwise unchanged starting eleven.

Dundee United’s line up showed one change from their last time out against Inverness Caley Thistle, Calum Butcher was out so 24 year old Ian Harkes came in to replace him.

Dunfermline kicked off through Jon Afolabi and Dom Thomas accepted a Kyle Turner pass to force a corner on the right within 90 seconds. Ross sent the corner over but Mark Connolly rose highest you clear. At the other bend the Fifers did well to prevent Lawrence Shankland getting in a fourth minute shot after Louis Appere had chipped the ball into the Pars box.

Euan Murray earned a corner on the left three minutes later but again Connolly defended Ross’ delivery. Thomas won a corner on the right off Robson and this time it was the on loan Killie player who centred but United defended that one too.

First attempt at goal came in the ninth minute but from 23 yards out Kevin Nisbet made Ben Siegrist’s job elementary. Three minutes later Afolabi evaded the offside trap to burst through on the left but his effort was wayward and went out for a thrown in on the right.

There was an early substitution for Dunfermline when in 16 minutes Lewis Martin had to replace Aaron Comrie. The Pars kept up the pressure but United got in their first attempt when Rakish Bingham crashed the ball over the crossbar from just inside the penalty box in 21st minute.

The Pars were pushed forward when Ross tucked the ball back to Turner in a central area of the United half. Then his superb pass floated in on the right side of the opposition half for NISBET to head over Siegrist to open the scoring in 26th minute. 1-0

Three minutes later Martin sent over a good left footed cross that just evaded both Afolabi and Ross. Then Owain Fon Williams had to react fast to smother a loose ball in front of goal after Harkes had got to the left byeline and his cut back had come off Lee Ashcroft.

Murray forced a corner on the left and he required treatment for the low boot of Harkes as he tried to attack Ross’ delivery. Despite the attention and making himself available, it was several minutes playing with ten men before the far side assistant was happy to allow the left back on.

Afolabi supplied a great ball in from the left that first Nisbet and then Ross tried to finish but United kept them out and when Nisbet subsequently hit the post he was offside. In time added on at the end of the first half Shankland got his first chance but sent the ball straight at Williams.

Half time: Dunfermline 1 Dundee United 0

Just four minutes into the second Nisbet flicked the ball on to burst in on the right side of the United box and from a tight angle thrashed the ball on target but the ball went behind off Siegrist and the goalpost but still no corner was given.

In 52 minutes Appere served a warning to the home defence firing far wide from 22 yards. Peter Pawlett flighted a free kick into the Pars box but Danny Devine and then Nisbet headed the ball away. That was Pawlett’s final act as he was then replaced by Paul McMullan.

There were loud appeals for a free kick on the edge of the visitors box as Paul Watson tumbled Nisbet. No foul was the referee’s decision.

There was no decision either for the Terrors when McMullan’s 59th corner saw Connolly restrained by Ashcroft. The Pars broke and a fast run up the right let Thomas in to cross into the six yard box where AFOLABI turned the ball in. The first goal in senior football for the on loan Celt made it 2-0.

The goalscorer beat the offside trap on 66 minutes but with Ross in the middle United scrambled the ball away for a corner on the left. Ross has to be subbed by Joe Thomson before Thomas sent the corner over and Turner got in a shot that went narrowly wide left from 20 yards.

McMullan swung over a 69th minute corner kick that the Pars defended and two minutes later Afolabi was flagged offside as he blasted another chance over the bar. Thomas showed some fantastic footwork to create a 73rd minute chance and United were stuck in their own box for a spell.

Play stopped for treatment to Kevin Nisbet after a challenge from Watson. He has gone over on his ankle on landing and after limping off he had to be replaced by Tom Beadling for the final fourteen minutes. Next Watson blocked Afolabi as he threatened to get through on the keeper. Again no decision from referee Graham Beaton.

From a McMullan cross Shankland headed an effort on to the roof of the net but the Dunfermline team were defending well. A 83rd minute free kick was given in Afolabi’s favour but from 30 yards out Thomas shot narrowly off target.

Shankland was very unlucky to get only a corner as he attacked a McMullan cross and the ball went out between Devine and Williams. Two corners followed for the visitors but with Shankland injuring Ashcroft it was a yellow card for the Championship’s top goalscorer.

Martin headed away another United corner then McMullan flashed a cross through the six yard box. Another corner was successfully defended before Afolabi and Thomas tried to run the clock down.

Devine had to blocked Shankland in sixth minute of added time to collect a yellow card but the free kick was sent behind and the game was won.

It was to be the Pars first home win over Dundee United since April 2007 and the victory was wildly celebrated by both players and fans.

DUNFERMLINE: Owain Fôn Williams: Aaron Comrie (Lewis Martin 16), Lee Ashcroft, Danny Devine, Euan Murray: Dom Thomas, Paul Paton (c), Kyle Turner, Ethan Ross (Joe Thomson 67): Jonathan Afolabi: Kevin Nisbet (Tom Beadling 76).
SUBS NOT USED: Josh Edwards, Matthew Todd, Lewis McCann, Cammy Gill (GK)
SCORERS: Nisbet (26), Afolabi (60)
YELLOW CARD: Afolabi (61), Devine (90+6)

DUNDEE UNITED: Ben Siegrist: Liam Smith, Mark Connolly c), Paul Watson, Jamie Robson: Dillon Powers, Ian Harkes (Declan Glass 61), Peter Pawlett (Paul McMullan 54), Louis Appere, Rakish Bingham (Adrian Sporle 79), Lawrence Shankland.
SUBS NOT USED: Mark Reynolds, Kieran Freeman, Lewis Nelson, Deniz Mehmet (GK).
YELLOW CARD: Shankland (86), Neilson (89), Smith (90+4)

REFEREE: Graham Beaton

NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship (away) v Arbroath, Wednesday 4th March 2020, kick off 7.45pm at Gayfield Park