SFL v St Johnstone


Fixture: Irn Bru SFL Division One

Attendance: 3317, Kick off 15.00

Referee: Scott MacDonald

Stephen Simmons replaced Stevie Crawford for the match against St Johnstone, the only change from the team that lost heavily the previous Saturday against Livingston. Owen Coyle named an unchanged starting eleven and bench.

In August this match was regarded as one of the crucial meetings in the forthcoming First Division season but now with the Fifers sitting just one point off the foot of the table on the back of losing three successive matches in which they conceded 12 and scored none, the significance of three points was even greater than anyone would have believed.

Dunfermline kitted out in all black kicked off attacking the goal in front of the empty south stand. The first threat came early from the visitors. A Tam McManus cross from the right touchline won the Pars a corner in the opening 35 seconds but when that came in from the left the ball was driven wide left.

St Johnstone sprang an early surprise on the Pars too with Scott Wilson failing to deal with a ball in from the right and Sean Murdoch didn`t know a lot about it when the ball rebounded back off his chest.

In the fifth minute a foul on Simmons won the Pars a free kick 25 yards out in a central position but Stephen Glass`s attempt was belted against the four man St Johnstone wall. Saints had a similar opportunity when Wilson demolished Andy Jackson three minutes later but Rocco Quinn sent the ball high into the stand that housed the travelling fans.

The offside flag halted a promising St Johnstone build up in 14 minutes when Kenny Deuchar switched the ball neatly to Willie McLaren that he flicked on to Andy Jackson on the left side of the box. At the other end Danny Murphy made the move forward that laid the ball at the feet of Scott Muirhead for a cross that McManus, closed down by Stanic, struck wide of goal.

The Perth side won a corner in 22 minutes and immediately had a second when Murdoch was forced to turn Sheerin`s first over his crossbar. It was on the counterattack that the Pars almost produced the opening they sought so much. Muirhead made the run forward to swing an inviting ball in front of McManus as he raced into the box but when he chested it down for Glass, the former Hibs man was offside as he netted.

On the half hour Muirhead was on the end of a McManus cross but his shot was deflected behind for a corner. Stephen Glass sent that in from the bottom right corner and Mark Burchill was desperately unlucky to see his glancing header rebound back off the horizontal.

There was no clan fellowship when a crunching tackle by Saints Allan McManus on Tam McManus in 33rd minute caused the Pars man extreme pain. This was a real shame because Tam was showing much hunger for the game; he had to be carried off and Stevie Crawford came on to replace him when play resumed four minutes later.

Nice interchanges between Sheerin and Stanic set up the latter for a cross from the byeline and Kenny Deuchar rose to head the ball home at the far post. Fortunately the referee penalised the on loan player for using an opponent to gain the necessary height advantage to meet the header.

A surging run from Glass won the Pars a corner in added time but when the half time whistle came the game was still to see a goal.

Half Time: St Johnstone 0 Dunfermline 0

The half time team talk must have been strong because the new half brought an early push from the Pars with both Ryan and Wilson carrying the ball forward to encourage the supporters behind Main`s goal. In 52 minutes Deuchar was offside when he poked what looked like a good chance wide of Murdoch`s left hand post.

Deuchar forced Woods and Bamba to close out Andy Jackson and amongst appeals for a penalty they got the ball away first. Next Jackson felt that he was worthy of a penalty when Bamba halted his progress on the right side of the Pars box but fortunately despite his lengthy dialogue with the linesman no one else that mattered agreed with him.

The match was about to go into its final quarter when Glass fed Burchill a ball that he took into the left side before firing off target from 12 yards. Then Danny Murphy`s progress was unlawfully stopped by Gary Irvine just 28 yards out but when he got up and aimed his free kick at his two team mates in the five man Saints wall he blasted it high over the bar.

St Johnstone had several good efforts on target that were blocked with Bamba in particular being the saviour. New boy Michael McGlinchey made his debut with fifteen minutes to go.

A weak clearance from McManus gifted Glass a fine opportunity but with players to pass to either side of him he failed to cash in on the mistake. The home side piled the pressure on as the match neared the end but the Pars defence held out, soaking up a Sheerin free kick from the edge of the box and a Deuchar drive.

One point might have been three had Crawford and Wilson had better luck in 88th minute but their sights require some lowering. An even better chance dropped to Crawford in the 90th latching on to a Jim Hamilton knock down but he pulled the shot wide to the right of goal.

These sides meet again on Sunday 25th November in the Challenge Cup Final and after 180 league minutes without either of these teams finding the net at least at Dens Park someone is going to alter things no matter how long we have to play. It was a better Dunfermline performance at McDiarmid Park and after the recent form this draw felt like a victory.

DUNFERMLINE: Sean Murdoch; Calum Woods, Souleymane Bamba, Scott Wilson (c), Danny Murphy; Bobby Ryan (Michael McGlinchey 75), Stephen Simmons, Stephen Glass, Scott Muirhead (Jim Hamilton 85); Tam McManus (Stevie Crawford 37), Mark Burchill
SUBS: Greg Paterson (GK), Jamie Harris.
YELLOW CARD: Ryan (45), Murphy (75)

ST JOHNSTONE: Alan Main; Gary Irvine, Goran Stanic, Derek McInnes, Allan McManus, Steven Anderson, Rocco Quinn, Paul Sheerin, Kenny Deuchar, Andy Jackson (Peter MacDonald 83), Willie McLaren (David Weatherston 52)
SUBS: John Stewart, Andy Lawrie, Kevin Cuthbert (GK)
YELLOW CARD: McManus (33), Weatherston (92)

REFEREE: Scott MacDonald
WEATHER: Overcast, breezy 14ºC
Match Pictures

NEXT MATCH: Challenge Cup Final v St Johnstone, Sunday 25th November 2007 at Dens Park, Dundee; kick off 3.00pm