SPL v St Mirren

DUNFERMLINE 1 ST MIRREN 1 Date: 24/03/12

Attendance: 3753, Kick Off: 3:00pm.

Referee: Alan Muir

It was three weeks since the last fixture Dunfermline played in which Jim McIntyre`s side went down 2-0 to Motherwell.  The enforced break due to being out of the Scottish Cup and Celtic playing Kilmarnock in the Scottish Communities League Cup had seen major changes. Just eight days ahead of this important fixture the Board had dispensed with the services of their manager and on Wednesday Jim Jefferies arrived to try and prevent Dunfermline dropping out of the SPL.

Jim Jefferies has eight games to stop the drop and for his first game in charge against St Mirren, he made one change with Mark Kerr returning and Ryan Thomson dropping straight out of the squad due to a back spasm.

St Mirren made two changes from their midweek cup tie, Hugh Murray and midfielder Steven Thomson making way for Dougie Imrie and Paul McGowan.  Both sides donned their away strips and the visitors kicked off attacking the goal at the McCathie Stand end.

Dunfermline were the first to get a shot on target in third minute when a Liam Buchanan shot was deflected into the hands of Craig Samson. Then at the other end Nigel Hasselbaink threatened to cut the right side of the Pars defence apart but Andy Dowie swept up as the striker took one touch too many.

Jim Goodwin came out the worse in a clash with Martin Hardie and from the Austin McCann free kick St Mirren conceded the first corner of the afternoon. Joe Cardle sent over an inviting ball and Dowie`s header was strong but over the crossbar.

In 11 minutes Steven Thomson scooped a van Zanten cross high into the stand.  Then five minutes later a Graham Carey free kick to Thomson at the back post was blown up as the attacker pushed Alex Keddie away in his effort to reach the ball. On 20 minutes the referee gave offside against Hasselbaink while the North stand side assistant kept his flag down.

Dunfermline lacked inventiveness with several passes going uncompleted which meant they were pushed back into their own half.  St Mirren nevertheless were kept well away from goal with Smith`s only task to take out an Imrie cross in 24 minutes.

A long ball was nodded down from Hardie to Buchanan in the Saints box but Mair won the challenge and it was back to the other end. Carey pumped another left footed ball to the far post where Teale cut the ball back into a central area.  Hasselbaink had a chance but it was Mair who got the shot in from 14 yards but fortunately the shot went soaring over the bar.

Alex Keddie was yellow carded in 31st minute as Hasselbaink backed into him so yet another free kick but this time wasted by David van Zanten.  A break gave Hardie the chance to burst down the right but Marc McAusland won possession as the big man tried to jink in towards goal.

Buchanan and MacMillan nearly created a break through but again Mair intercepted  Then at Saints first corner in 38 minutes, Teale delivered the ball from the left for Steven THOMSON to run in and glance a header to the far post.  Gary Mason was on the post but could not stop the opening goal.

Given their first half possession, the visitors possibly deserved the lead at the break and Jim Jefferies must have felt frustrated by a fairly impotent Pars first half performance.

Half Time: Dunfermline 0 St Mirren 1

The Jim Jefferies half time team talk reaped immediate reward.  The second half was just 33 seconds old when Mason`s chip forward to Hardie was fed into the path of Buchanan who battled with his defender to get a shot in but the striker went down and with everyone looking for the referee`s decision, CARDLE scrambled in to turn the ball in at the left post. 1-1

The crowd, well at least those back in time after the break, rallied behind the team and Mason was next to try a belter from 15 yards that was blocked on the line by Carey and then in 52 minutes Hardie arrived at the front post to get a good touch on a header that cannoned off a defender for a corner.

Chris Smith was kept involved clutching the ball under his crossbar after Thomson had skied a chance for Hasselbaink to press. Next Carey crossed a free kick in to the far post but MacMillan headed clear.

A 58th minute corner allowed Cardle to pick out Hardie but he couldn`t get enough on his glancing header. At the other end Thomson`s header was blocked by Keddie raising speculative claims for a penalty from the 500 travelling fans behind Smith`s goal.

After sustained Pars pressure Saints came back into the match. In 67 minutes Keddie blocked Hasselbaink in front of goal after Imrie had carved a route in down the left channel, then Imrie was on the end of a returned cross but this time Kerr put in the telling block. There was some good blocks by MacMillan when St Mirren players were choosing their spot.

The new Pars boss made his first tactical substitution replacing Liam Buchanan with Andy Kirk and then four minutes later sending on Kyle Hutton at David Graham`s expense.

In 78 minutes Hardie rose to head the ball into the path of Cardle who burst into the Paisley club`s box but he lost possession with Kirk screaming for a square pass that might have been conclusive.

With five minutes remaining Dowie was yellow carded as Hasselbaink handled the ball. Referee Alan Muir saw it differently and a free kick 22 yards out gave Carey another pop at goal but he was wildly high and left.

Dunfermline pushed up for a winner and Keddie was unlucky not to get on the end of a Cardle free kick swung in from the right. Three added minutes were shown on the board and St Mirren passed up a good chance after Carey made ground to the edge of the Pars box. McGowan was allowed a shot that flashed across goal with no one to convert.

A 93rd minute corner sent in by Cardle from the left fell for Keddie but his shot from six yards was blocked. That meant the sides took one point each. News of Hibs home defeat to Dundee United raised a cheer. The Pars live to fight again.

DUNFERMLINE: Chris Smith; Jordan MacMillan, Andy Dowie, Alex Keddie, Austin McCann (c); David Graham (Kyle Hutton 74), Gary Mason, Mark Kerr (Steven McDougall 84), Joe Cardle; Martin Hardie, Liam Buchanan (Andy Kirk 70).
SUBS NOT USED: Paddy Boyle, Paul Willis, Kerr Young, Ryan Goodfellow (GK).
SCORER: Cardle (46)
YELLOW CARD: Keddie (31), McCann (62), Kerr (78), Hardie (82), Dowie (85).

ST MIRREN: Craig Samson; David van Zanten, Marc McAusland, Lee Mair, Graham Carey; Dougie Imrie, Jim Goodwin (c), Paul McGowan, Gary Teale (Steven Thomson 63); Nigel Hasselbaink, Steven Thomson
SUBS NOT USED: Graeme Smith (GK), Aaron Mooy, Jason Naismith, Thomas Reilly, Hugh Murray, Darren McGregor
YELLOW CARD: Goodwin (12)
SCORER: Thomson (38)

WEATHER:  Sun through haze 12C
50/50 WINNING TICKET: 65474 won £703

Next Match: SPL (away) v Dundee United
Saturday 31st March 2012, kick off 3.00pm