SPL v Aberdeen
DUNFERMLINE 3 ABERDEEN 0 Date: 28/04/12
Attendance: 3501, Kick Off: 3:00pm.
Referee: Craig Charleston
Dunfermline entered their penultimate home game of the season still looking for their first win on their own ground since May 2011. Injuries and sickness meant that Jim Jefferies was without the services of Jordan McMillan, Liam Buchanan and Austin McCann. Paddy Boyle, Andy Kirk and Joe Cardle returned to the starting line up.
Aberdeen, seeking just their fourth SPL win on the road, made two changes from the side that defeated Inverness Caley Thistle the previous weekend - Chris Clark and Scott Vernon replacing Kári Arnason and Rory Fallon.
The sun emerged as the Pars kicked off attacking the goal in front of the Dons fans in the East Stand. Chris Smith was the first keeper to touch the ball after Russell Anderson launched the ball too far. Then drama in four minutes when Jamie Langfield picked up a back pass and the Pars were awarded an indirect free kick eight yards from the goalline and eight yards outside the right goalpost. Boyle touched the ball back for Martin Hardie to drive low at goal. His shot escaped the touch of any of the seven Dons players in the six yard box but went wide left with Mark Reynolds seeing the ball out at the far post.
Kyle Hutton`s misdirected header almost caused problems on the right but Alex Keddie ushered the ball out for a bye kick. Chris Smith juggled the ball with his left peg in 12 minutes after Megginson had failed to beat the yellow kitted keeper to the ball. Vernon then brushed the Pars defence aside to slip the ball out right to Fraser Fyvie whose shot was cleared away by Andy Dowie.
Josh Magennis had two bites at breaking down the left side of the Pars defence but Keddie blocked and they earned a corner after Boyle sent the ball high into the McCathie Stand. Fortunately Anderson`s header from the corner ended up in the stand as well. Midway through the first half Hutton`s challenge on Fyvie earned Aberdeen a free kick and Fyvie sent that on goal causing Smith to touch the ball away for a corner.
Aberdeen were allowed to press the ball inside the Pars penalty box with Clark, Megginson and Vernon all seeing far too much of the ball but the Pars defence blocked every shot. Still the visitors kept attacking with Ryan Jack supplying Megginson on the left but yet again they failed to trouble Smith. Even Kirk was dragged back to defend with Smith gathering his striker`s cushioned header back.
Mark Kerr lost possession in 33 minutes letting Gavin Rae through for a pop at goal but that was deflected for a corner on the right. When that came in Boyle sent the ball behind for a corner on the other side. There was a flick on the next that the defenders sussed but another corner followed that agitated the home support.
A Mason free kick to the edge of the Aberdeen box picked out Hardie but he directed the ball into an area where Langfield came to clutch. Another free kick in 42 minutes, from 25 yards out was blasted into the defensive wall by Hardie.
Despite the home side`s late flurry, Dunfermline had been pegged back for most of the first half and there had been little sign of the kind of play that would breed any optimism for that an elusive home win.
Half time: Dunfermline 0 Aberdeen 0
Aberdeen resumed their pressure when the second half got underway and the Pars continued to look far from convincing. There were claims for a penalty when Dowie mistimed his headed clearance and ended up with the ball underneath him. The biggest cheer for the home support was for a Langfield miskick followed up quickly with Mark Reynolds failing to control the dropping ball.
Play continued deep in the Pars half with even the Aberdeen central defenders well up until in 56 minutes Joe CARDLE latched on to a long ball from Keddie. He gathered about 25 yards out and took the ball into the penalty box on the left side. When challenged he touched the ball characteristically to his right and drilled the ball home under Langfield. An important goal perhaps 1-0.
East End Park awoke, the drum and song boomed out as the home side were encouraged to go for more. A Cardle free kick was pumped towards the Aberdeen goal but was easily cleared by Vernon on the top of the box.
Darren Mackie replaced Megginson on 63 minutes and Smith was made to save a diving header from Vernon. At the other end the Pars forced a corner but the visitors cleared all too easily through Anderson. The heat was kept up when Graham was picked out by Kerr on the left. It was from down near the corner flag that Cardle sent over an inswinger from a free kick and Andy KIRK arrived to glance the ball past Langfield. His eleventh goal of the season 2-0.
Jack lofted a high ball over from the right that Smith dropped but then gathered. Then it was back to the other end where it looked more likely that another goal might come. Paul Burns had replaced Martin Hardie before Dunfermline increased their lead. It was 78th minute when Langfield`s clearance was charged down by Kirk. Reynolds swept the ball away but Fyvie then weakly tried to pass the ball back to his keeper but only succeeded in feeding KIRK with the chance to chip the ball past the Dons keeper. 3-0.
Dunfermline then played with great confidence and comfort. Burns was unlucky to be caught offside before Andy kirk left to a standing ovation to be subbed by Andy Barrowman with six minutes remaining. The sub challenged for a Cardle cross but it was Burns who shot on target only to be blocked by a defender.
Another free kick delivered by Cardle kept play in the Dons box and a corner was conceded as Anderson headed behind. Three added minutes had come and gone when the sun came out again to allow the East End faithful a long awaited celebration.
After one win in twenty one games and 51 weeks after their last home win, this was a victory that kept the relegation battle very much alive. Hibs go to St Mirren on Sunday but for now Dunfermline were just three points behind. Pars fans will be wishing their Paisley Buddies well and indeed hoping that Aberdeen rediscover their form for Hibs trip to Pittodrie on Wednesday night!
DUNFERMLINE: Chris Smith; Gary Mason (c), Andy Dowie, Alex Keddie, Paddy Boyle; David Graham (Ryan Thomson 88), Mark Kerr, Kyle Hutton, Joe Cardle; Martin Hardie (Paul Burns 72), Andy Kirk (Andy Barrowman 84).
SUBS NOT USED: Paul Willis, Steven McDougall, Kerr Young, Bernardo Fernandez (GK)
SCORER: Cardle (56), Kirk (69, 78)
YELLOW CARD: Kirk (69)
ABERDEEN: Jamie Langfield; Josh Magennis, Russell Anderson (c), Andrew Considine, Mark Reynolds; Ryan Jack, Fraser Fyvie, Gavin Rae, Chris Clark (Jamie Masson 74), Scott Vernon (Declan McManus 74), Mitchel Megginson (Darren Mackie 63).
SUBS NOT USED: Kári Arnason, Daniel Rogers, Rory McArdle, Cameron Smith,
YELLOW CARD: Langfield (4)
WEATHER: Overcast 9C
PARS 50/50 DRAW: The winning ticket number was 63761 and wins £605.
NEXT MATCH: SPL (away) v Inverness Caley Thistle
Wednesday 2nd May, kick off 7.45pm