Ladbrokes Championship: Dundee United 2 Dunfermline 1: 02/12/17
The road and the miles to Dundee created problems for Dunfermline Athletic with two of their intended starting eleven being caught up in delays caused by an accident on the A9 between Dunblane and Perth. Two poor goals were conceded and although Declan McManus clawed them back into the match from the penalty spot, they could not find an equaliser in the final quarter of an hour.
For the visit to Tannadice Allan Johnston made four changes in his starting eleven. Lewis Martin, Joe Cardle, Michael Paton and Declan McManus started in place of Fraser Aird, Dean Shields, Nicky Clark and Callum Smith.
Dundee United were without Thomas Scobbie, suspended following his red card at Brechin the previous Saturday. Manager Csaba LÃ¡szlÃ³ brought in 32 year old Paul Quinn to replace him in the centre of the defence in an otherwise unchanged United team. Four points separated the Pars in fourth place from their second placed opponents.
It was Dunfermline who kicked off in what looked like a 4-1-4-1 shape, attacking the goal at the Eddie Thompson Stand End but United who got in the first attempt of the afternoon Scott Fraser blasting his fourth minute shot over the bar.
Nat Wedderburn drove the ball behind for a sixth minute corner for the home side but Billy King slipped as he took it on the right and McManus sprinted away with it. He made a tremendous run taking him inside the United box but failed to centre for Cardle and a deflection took the ball out for the first Pars corner of the game. Cardle` cross was low and cut out but there was quickly a chance for Kallum Higginbotham thanks to McManus dispossessing Fraser Fyvie. The Pars man sent his left footed shot outside the left goalpost.
Paton then made a strong run down the left channel but sent his shot from 20 yards wide. The 13th minute proved unlucky for Scott McDonald who failed to shoot after Jamie Robson had been allowed to get in a cross from the left and the ball landed at the striker`s feet only to be swept away by Cardle. Next the ball was fizzed through the six yard box after Higginbotham`s efforts to see the ball out failed.
Jason Talbot`s challenge on Fraser then crunched the United player to the ground and a free kick was awarded some 25 yards out. The 15th minute setpiece was swept over the Pars wall by FRASER to find the right side of the net. 1-0
The Pars tried to make their response immediate and in 17th minute Cardle slid the ball out left for McManus to cross from the left was turned over the bar off the foot of Higginbotham as he slid in at the back post.
Cardle was forward playing the ball off McManus on the top of the box and then taking the ball right before sending a pass into the six yard box that Harry Lewis got to ahead of the inrunning McManus.
There were 26 minutes on the clock when Referee Euan Anderson awarded the Fifers an indirect free kick 16 yards out after keeper Lewis held Quinn`s pass back. Talbot and Higginbotham stood over the ball. All ten outfield opponents were in their own box, there were six in the wall but as Higginbotham elected to tap the ball left for a Paton to shoot, the wall charged down his effort.
Cardle lofted in a free kick from the left side but the 20 year old keeper rose to grab the ball. At the other end Sam Stanton was able to get a shot in but Sean Murdoch held with ease. McManus had a blast but his effort was well off target and Martin drove a 30 header wide left.
Ten minutes from the interval Paton delivered a fine cross in from the left and Martin made ground to send a diving header on target but the keeper held albeit at his second attempt. A United corner looked to have been well enough defended until Stanton stabbed at a chance on the edge of the box and his shot slipped narrowly over the bar.
The Fifers then conceded a cheap goal in 42nd minute. A Robson throw in on the left side picked out FRASER who despatched the ball with a right footed shot at an angle into far side of the goal. 2-0
The first half stats showed 52% possession for the home side and eight Pars shots to United`s five but two goals down at the break left the visitors a lot to do in the second half if they were going to take anything from this game back down the M90.
Half time: Dundee United 2 Dunfermline 0
No changes to either side when play resumed and Murdoch was the first keeper in serious action diving at the feet of Fraser as Robson provided another cross from the left. Stanton then missed a good chance at the back post when King lofted in another useful ball from the left wing.
Fraser Aird replaced Kallum Higginbotham after just ten second half minutes and the sub tried to make an immediate impact running strongly at the United defence before trying to slip the ball to Martin on the edge of the box but that was intercepted.
On the hour Williamson displayed great close control to beat his man and send a fine cross in from the right but the keeper got to it just ahead of Martin. A minute later the right back provided yet another cross but this time it was easier for Lewis to hold. Pressure on the right side of the United box earned a 62nd minute corner but although Cardle`s delivery picked out Morris he could not get his header on target.
Murdoch then denied Fraser his hattrick with a great save but there was a glimmer of hope as Dunfermline appeared to enjoy a short spell of territorial advantage. Play switched to the other end with King forcing a 70th minute corner off Morris. Paton headed that away and after another Pars attack Morris was shown yellow as Fyvie broke on the counter.
Aird broke down the right and into the box where Robson`s challenge earned the Fifers a 75th minute penalty. Robson and then Quinn were shown yellow cards before McMANUS fired the spot kick right footed into the right side of the United net. 2-1
In 83rd minute Martin headed on a Murdoch clearance and a swift move from Aird to Paton to Aird forced a corner on the left but unfortunately that changed nothing. Next movement Aird crashed a 25 harder wide left and there were signs that the home side were getting rattled but the clock was certainly running away from the Pars.
A surging run from Ashcroft earned a free kick on half way and there was one final fright for United as Aird`s last chance cross dipped in but Lewis held under the crossbar and there was to be no late equaliser.
DUNDEE UNITED: Harry Lewis, Paul Quinn, Mark Durnan, Jamie Robson: Stewart Murdoch, Scott Fraser (Paul McMullan 90), Billy King, Sam Stanton (James Keatings 70), Willo Flood (c)(William Edjenguele 90+3), Fraser Fyvie, Scott McDonald
SUBS NOT USED: Scott Allardyce, Matty Smith, Logan Chalmers, Deniz Mehmet (GK).
SCORERS: Fraser (15, 42)
YELLOW CARD: Stanton (55), Robson (74), Quinn (75)
DUNFERMLINE: Sean Murdoch: Ryan Williamson, Callum Morris (c), Lee Ashcroft, Jason Talbot: Nat Wedderburn, Lewis Martin. Kallum Higginbotham (Fraser Aird 55), Michael Paton, Joe Cardle: Declan McManus.
SUBS NOT USED: Callum Smith, Dean Shiels, Jean-Yves M`Voto, Cammy Gill (GK).
YELLOW CARD: Higginbotham (51), Morris (73), Cardle (79), Paton (88)
REFEREE: Euan Anderson
WEATHER: Fine 6â°C
NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship: (home) v Queen of the South, Saturday 9th December 2017, kick off 3.00pm at East End Park