SFL v Stirling Albion


Fixture: Irn Bru SFL Division One

Attendance: 1590, Kick off 15.00

Referee: Iain Brines

Dunfermline had not won in their last two away matches against Stirling Albion but that was a long time ago.┬ The team that had just been relegated from the SPL, despite their form had to be fancied against the bottom of the table team.

The large travelling support at Forthbank to witness the Pars first away fixture in 13 years against the Binos possibly outnumbered the home fans. Stephen Kenny`s starting line up showed three changes from those that faced up to Hamilton Accies the previous Saturday. Mark Burchill, Jim Hamilton and Paul Gallacher (shoulder injury) were replaced by Scott McBride, Bobby Ryan and Sean Murdoch. Allan Moore brought in Nathan Taggart for William Easton, the only change from the eleven that started against Partick Thistle.

The home side kicked off playing north to south but it was two early Pars corners that had the ball in the danger area early on. Stephen Glass`s from the right side was headed behind for another then Bobby Ryan`s in from the left was headed narrowly over the bar by Sol Bamba.

A foul on Ryan gave Glass an opportunity to aim a fourth minute free kick at the Stirling goal but it just scraped past the wrong side of the right goalpost. Sean Murdoch`s first serious deployment was in cutting out a crossed ball from the right by Ross Harris in the tenth minute.

The Fifers looked eager to appease their last result and their minds were fixed on attack. Lawrie Ellis`s challenge on Tam McManus as he burst through into the penalty box was adjudged to have been fair and despite the appeals of the away fans no penalty was given.

The pressure was maintained with Nick Phinn feeding a defended corner wide right for Stevie Crawford but his firmly hit cross was cut out. Stirling reminded their opponents that they were there for the points, Taggart and McKenna combining to Colin Cramb but his header from the edge of the six yard box dropped wide to the right of goal.

Nick Phinn was to be influential in setting up several first half chances. His pass to Ryan saw the Irishman beat Stirling`s Ross Forsyth before delivering a dangerous ball that Ellis booted out only for Phinn to return but the shot was deflected over the crossbar.

On 20 minutes Ryan provide a fine ball to Crawford on the right and he turned Forsyth before releasing a belter of a shot that Christie stopped and Ellis stepped in to blast the loose ball away. Eight minutes later a Harris free kick for Stirling from wide down the left was headed on to the roof of the net by Ellis and their first corner on the half hour brought some indecision in the Pars six yard box but the ball was eventually cleared.

In 34 minutes a simple through ball from Taggart picked out Colin CRAMB and he took the chance well tucking the ball past the advancing Sean Murdoch from 16 yards out. The goal left Bamba and Woods debating what went wrong but that was in stark contrast to the silenced Pars support.

The Binos buoyed by the goal took the game to Dunfermline and there were some anxious moments in the defence until McBride broke down the left and despatched an inviting ball in for Crawford but the ball was headed behind.

Four minutes from the break, Forsyth was yellow carded for leaving his foot in a challenge on McBride and Glass` free kick was curled in but the keeper easily held that.

Half Time: Stirling Albion 1 Dunfermline 0

The half time music from the Beach Boys "I felt so broke up I want to go home" was surely not for the Pars fans but 1-0 down to the bottom of the league team, it was shaping up to being the "worst trip I have ever been on." Owen Morrison replaced Scott McBride for the second half .

It took just 60 seconds for Phinn to drive in a shot that just cleared the crossbar. That came after Glass`s free kick was only half cleared. The fans broke into song and tried their best to encourage their side. A fine through ball into the box from Morrison evaded the chase of McManus but there were reassuring signs.

In 52 minutes Christie came for a lofted Calum Woods free kick and completely missed the take out. Unfortunately that could not be cashed in on. The Pars team looked keen to make a fight of it but some misplaced passes let them down.

On the hour the weather closed in and it started to rain. Stirling pegged their opponents back and took the game to them. Corners came their way and as the game entered the final quarter it looked increasing unlikely that the Dunfermline revival was coming.

In the 70th minute Referee Iain Brines gave a penalty after Cramb came down as he received a pass from McKenna but had to retract that when he noticed that the linesman`s flag was raised for offside. The Fife support made it quite clear that they felt that the official didn`t know what he was doing.

Jamie Harris was brought on up front and Phinn withdrawn, Crawford dropped back into the midfield.

Bobby Ryan brought a save out of Christie in 75 minutes but three minutes later the match was smashed out of the Pars reach. A running ball down the right was poorly dealt with and a Stirling player was able to cut the ball back for Steven BELL to drive the ball low beyond the outstretched Murdoch.

Worse was to follow in 83 rd minute when Paul Nugent cut in from the right and worked a route into the Pars box.┬ His cross found Bell and┬ Sean Murdoch and his┬ defence blocked that out on the line but the break fell to David McKENNA who netted from close in.

Three minutes from the end Tam McManus was played onside by a Stirling player deep on the right well away from play but his flick from eight yards was directed wide of the right post. With Dunfermline still pressing forward for what could only have been a consolation sub Chris Aitken tried a shot from just inside his own half and he was out of luck when the ball skimmed off the roof of the net.

In the first minute of added time Pars sub Jamie Harris backheeled the ball to Morrison setting up the wee man for a fine cross from the left but as the ball flashed through the Stirling six yard box Harris was desperately unlucky to fail to make a connection.

As the match finished sections of the Athletic support called for the Manager to resign but that was by no means unanimous with others wanting to blame the players.┬ On the day the Pars players tried their best, at times even showing signs of overeagerness, but their efforts just weren`t good enough to prevent Allan Moore`s Stirling Albion registering their first win of the season.┬ For players and management alike the┬ short trip back to Dunfermline must have felt like the worst trip they had ever been on.

STIRLING ALBION: Scott Christie; Paul Nugent, Craig Reid, Lawrie Ellis, Ross Forsyth, Ross Harris, Steven Bell, John Paul McBride (Chris Aitken 85), Nathan Taggart; David McKenna (Derek Lilley 85), Colin Cramb
SUBS: Myles Hogarth (GK), Andy Graham, Marek Tomana,
SCORER: Cramb (34), Bell (78), McKenna (83)
YELLOW CARD: Forsyth (41), McBride (65), Bell ((72), Cramb (93)

DUNFERMLINE: Sean Murdoch; Calum Woods, Souleymane Bamba, Scott Wilson, Scott Muirhead; Bobby Ryan, Nick Phinn (Jamie Harris 74), Stephen Glass, Scott McBride (Owen Morrison HT); Tam McManus, Stevie Crawford (c),
SUBS: Greg Paterson, Scott Morrison, Iain Williamson.
YELLOW CARD: Glass (29), McManus (55)

WEATHER: Overcast 11┬║C