Ladbrokes Championship: Arbroath 0 Dunfermline 0: 04/03/20

Dunfermline travelled to the Angus coast for this Wednesday evening league match against Dick Campbell’s Arbroath hoping to avenge the 1-0 defeat in August. A win for either side would take them into fourth place, level on points with Dundee.

Stevie Crawford made three changes to the starting eleven against Dundee United on the previous Saturday. Kevin Nisbet (ankle) and Aaron Comrie (back) were out injured and Joe Thomson was preferred to Ethan Ross who dropped to the bench. Replacing the injured players were Gabby McGill and Lewis Martin.

Arbroath were unchanged from the side that defeated Queen of the South and it was Craig Wighton who kicked off for the home side playing south to north. It was Arbroath who created the first chance of the evening when in fifth minute Dale Hilson teed up David Gold for a shot from the edge of the box that sailed well wide right.

The home side forced two corners both from the left. Gavin Swankie found Ricky Little with the first and Owain Fon Williams had to save that. From the second the keeper fisted away, Lee Ashcroft headed on and Martin cleared.

Two long throw ins from Miko Virtanen created danger in the Pars box but the defence did its job. Then McGill won a 12th minute free kick that Dom Thomas drove into the Arbroath wall. A further two Swankie corners followed that were eventually cleared by Ashcroft.

Thomas made a break down the right but his cross was beaten back out as fast as it came in. Back at the other end Jason Thomson dropped a cross in from the right that Williams held.

The match had started at a frantic pace but as it entered its second quarter it settled down and Dunfermline were able to take the game further up the field. Several fouls disrupted play and there was a distinct lack of goalmouth activity.

Arbroath were literally handed a 37th minute free kick when the ball ran down Ashcroft’s arm 26 yards out. Hilson took responsibility and fired a swirling effort over the defensive wall and the crossbar.

Two minutes later after Martin was blocked by Hamilton, Thomas fired a free kick into the Arbroath box but that was booted away. The home side made a push before the break with a Thomson shot low to the near post turned away by Williams for a corner and then Thomson getting his head to Hamilton’s delivery from the right but his aim was wide.

Half time: Arbroath 0 Dunfermline 0

Arbroath picked up from where they had left things off and did not let the Fifers settle on the ball. In 50 minutes Mark Whatley smashed a shot from 25 yards narrowly wide and within the same minute Joe Thomson was unlucky to have a defender cut out Jon Afolabi’s cross from the right side of the opposition penalty box.

Three minutes later the best chance so far came from Euan Murray’s cross but unfortunately when McGill rose and headed on target but the ball went straight into the hands of Derek Gaston.

Next Afolabi tormented the home defence on the left side of the box but it was a cross in from Martin on the right that required a telling clearance in the six yard box.

Paton cleared a dangerous looking cross from Thomson and when McGill headed on to send Thomas through there was an expectation but his cross was cut out before it could find Afolabi. Lewis McCann then replaced Gabby McGill and Dick Campbell introduced Bobby Linn for Gavin Swankie on 65 minutes.

McCann was penalised as he tracked back for his challenge on Wighton and that gave Linn the opportunity from a free kick 28 yards out on the right of middle. The substitute crashed his effort into the Pars wall.

Thomas broke fast and Arbroath were almost caught out on the counterattack but Gaston held the on loan Kilmarnock players cross. Ethan Ross then came on for Joe Thomson and Thomas switched to operate on the right. Arbroath’s sub was former Pars man James Craigen with twelve minutes remaining.

Thomas created problems from the right, firstly picking out McCann whose header went wide and then sending in a free kick that Gaston held. There were further efforts from both Afolabi and McCann before the home side ended with a final assault on the Fifers box.

Amongst it all Ashcroft had to retire through injury and Afolabi collected a yellow card for his challenge on Virtanen where the Pars player appeared to come off worst.

In 90th minute Paton did really well to block a fierce Hilson shot and then Turner turned away a Craigen cross. It was to end without a goal scored by either side and one point each possibly a fair result. The point raised both teams above Morton who have the same points but an inferior goal difference.

Next month will see the celebration of 700 years since the Declaration of Arbroath but for now both Stevie Crawford and Dick Campbell appeared happy to celebrate their one point.

ARBROATH: Derek Gaston: Jason Thomson, Rickie Little, Thomas O’Brien, Colin Hamilton: Miko Virtanen: David Gold (James Craigen 77), Mark Whatley (Luke Donnelly 80), Gavin Swankie (Bobby Linn 65), Dale Hilson: Craig Wighton
SUBS NOT USED: James Murphy, Scott Stewart, Omar Kader, Darren Jamieson (GK).
YELLOW CARD: Little (70)

DUNFERMLINE: Owain Fôn Williams: Lewis Martin, Lee Ashcroft (Josh Edwards 89), Danny Devine, Euan Murray: Joe Thomson (Ethan Ross 77), Paul Paton (c), Kyle Turner, Dom Thomas: Gabby McGill (Lewis McCann 64), Jonathan Afolabi.
SUBS NOT USED: Tom Beadling, Matthew Todd, Miller Fenton, Cammy Gill (GK)
YELLOW CARD: Thomas (16), Afolabi (90)

REFEREE: John McKendrick
WEATHER: Clear 4°C

NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship (home) v Queen of the South, Saturday 7th March 2020, kick off 3.00pm at East End Park

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