Ladbrokes Championship: Dunfermline 1 Ross County 2: 11/08/18 :

East End Park welcomed a new league season with the visit of Ross County. The Highland club suffered relegation from the Premier League last season but are expected to make a strong effort to go straight back up. For Dunfermline fresh from their first victory at Tannadice for seven years, this would be a test that that might just given an early indication of how realistic their own promotion hopes should be.

The visitors line up included last season’s Pars Callum Morris and Declan McManus. There was one change to their side, Michael Gardyne back from suspension to be preferred ahead of Billy McKay. Allan Johnston changed his winning starting eleven from the previous week bringing in Ryan Williamson for the injured Danny Devine. Otherwise it was the same starting line up with Kallum Higginbotham back on the bench after serving suspension.

The visitors in all red, kicked off attacking the goal at the McCathie Stand end and it was a fairly tame beginning from both sides until in sixth minute County defender man handled Myles Hippolyte in the box as the Pars came forward but no decision made by referee Craig Thomson.

In ninth minute Josh Mullin won the first corner of the afternoon and when that came in from the right another resultant from the defensive header. Mullin delivered from the left and Hippolyte headed clear.

A foul by Jamie Lindsay on Hippolyte handed the home side a 13th minute free kick 28 yards out. James Craigen played an unexpected ball to the far post to where Lee Ashcroft had sprinted and his effort was kept out by the post.

Five minutes past before Williamson was fed a fine pass by Louis Longridge and when he reached the edge of the County box really had to shoot but unluckily he pulled his shot wide left. Hippolyte next swung a useful pass out right to L Longridge but his cross evaded Faissal El Bakhtaoui and the defence cleared. James Vincent was shown an exceptionally soft yellow card for a 21st minute tackle on Lindsay before Josh MULLIN opened the scoring four minutes later.

The goal was made by Ross Draper who played the ball off Lindsay before setting up his team mate who thrashed the ball past Lee Robinson from a 45 degree angle 15 yards out. 0-1

County’s lead was to last just four minutes as the Pars equalised after a long throw in from Hippolyte on the left was latched on to by Louis LONGRIDGE who crashed the ball home from 12 yards. 1-1

The Staggies almost restored their lead right away as Gardyne was picked out free on the left from a free kick and Robinson had to pull off a fine save to deny him. The chances kept coming, Hippolyte flighting in a great diagonal ball that keeper Scott Fox came out for but could not take. El Bakhtaoui found the ball drop to his feet and his angled shot just failed to sneak in as it travelling across goal and out.

In 39 minutes L Longridge sent a dangerous ball into the six yard box where efforts from both Hippolyte and then Williamson were stopped by Fox. As the interval approached the visitors turned up the heat. First a Mullin free kick was sent into the Pars box and Jackson Longridge cleared with a diving header.

Next a Mullin shot was turned behind for a corner and when that came over from the right, Keith Watson got a head to it but Vincent cleared. Then in 42 minutes GARDYNE ripped through the home defence beating off the challenges of three defefenders to stick the ball past Robinson. 1-2

First half stats showed 66% possession for Ross County, it had not felt like that but for the second week running the Fifers were looking to come back from a half time reversal.

Half time: Dunfermline 1 Ross County 2

Mark Durnan supplied L Longridge with an early second half chance with a long ball that picked his man out on the left edge of the opposition box but his speculative shot cleared the crossbar.
At the other end Mullen was presented with an opportunity but his well connected shot from just inside the Pars penalty box was parried to his left by Robinson and Vincent mopped up before the strikers could react.

Ross County deflected a chance from Sean Kelly’s corner before Dunfermline forced two 50th minute corners with Fox punching away at the second. Play stopped for treatment to Vincent in 56 minutes after his head collided with J Longridge’s as they both went for the same ball.

El Bakhtaoui fought to force a corner off Kelly two minutes later but despite Ashcroft getting the first touch County cleared. Lindsay and Gardyne linked well down the right but the latter’s final pass to Lindsay was intercepted. Then in 63 minutes Hippolyte and Thomson were tumbled on the edge of the box and from 19 yards out Hippolyte’s effort was headed behind by Fraser. The resultant corner was headed on by Durnan but unfortunately not on target and a Fox spread out on the right byeline to take the ball.

The post kept out a speculative effort from Gardyne it then at the midpoint of the second half Ross County increased their lead. It came when a corner from the right was headed on by Draper for WATSON to volley in at the far post. 1-3

Kallum Higginbotham had come on for Ryan Williamson just prior to the third County goal and it was the sub who sent in a free kick from the right that the opposition dealt with. Higgy next tried to inject some power with a run up the right but was halted by the County defence. A Higginbotham drive was defended before in 79 minutes a double substitution saw Thomson and Hippolyte replaced by Aidan Connolly and Andy Ryan.

A foul on Ryan 25 yards out set up a free kick in a central position. Aidan Connolly took the 83rd minute setpiece and sent it narrowly outside the right upright.

Athletic kept trying but it was the third minute of added time before Fox was tested from a well hit low shot by Ryan. Disappointing result after the euphoria of last Saturday’s win.
DUNFERMLINE: Lee Robinson: Lee Ashcroft (c), Mark Durnan, Jackson Longridge: Ryan Williamson (Kallum Higginbotham 66), Joe Thomson (Aidan Connolly 79), James Vincent, Louis Longridge, James Craigen: Faissal El Bakhtaoui, Myles Hippolyte (Andy Ryan 79)
SUBS NOT USED: Matthew Todd, Callum Smith, Lewis McCann, Cammy Gill (GK)
SCORERS: L Longridge (28)
YELLOW CARD: Vincent (21), Ashcroft (53)

ROSS COUNTY: Scott Fox: Marcus Fraser, Sean Kelly, Callum Morris, Keith Watson, Ross Draper, Jamie Lindsay, Iain Vigurs, Josh Mullin (Ryan Dow 89), Michael Gardyne (Davis Keillor-Dunn 85), Declan McManus (Brian Graham 71)
SUBS NOT USED: Stelios Demetriou, Ross Stewart, Billy McKay, Ross Munro (GK)
SCORERS: Mullin (25), Gardyne (42), Watson (68)
YELLOW CARD: Watson (30)

REFEREE: Craig Thomson
WEATHER: Sunny Intervals 17C

NEXT MATCH: Irn Bru Cup (away) v Inverness Caley Thistle, Tuesday 14th August 2018, 7.45pm kick off at Tulloch Caledonian Stadium

Half time 50/50 draw, ticket number 39973 won £760