SPFL League One: DUNFERMLINE 0 STENHOUSEMUIR 0: Date 08/03/14
Dunfermline faced Stenhousemuir for the fourth time this season in blustery conditions at East End Park. The match turned out to be their first goalless match since meeting Inverness Caley Thistle in May 2012 but with Stranraer losing 5-0 to Ayr United it was to be a point gained on their nearest rivals.
Ryan Williamson dropped to the bench and Josh Falkingham was out through injury; Ross Millen and Shaun Byrne returned to the starting eleven. Scott Booth the Stenny manager made one change from the team that beat Forfar last time out as Sean Lynch came in for Josh Watt.
It was the Pars who kicked off in Spring like sunshine attacking the goal at the east end. Former Par Chris Smith was the first keeper in action clearing to the very back row of the main stand in second minute. The first corner was won by the visitors and there was some aerial exercise for the match ball before Andy Geggan blocked out a Ross McMillan shot 20 yards out.
In fifth minute Smith dived to his left to parry away an on target Shaun Byrne header from a Danny Grainger delivery from the left. The Pars continued to press with Ross Forbes pumping a good ball in from a corner on the right but Stephen Husband drove his attempt on the far side of the box wide left.
On nine minutes Lawrence Shankland got through one on one with the Stenny keeper and you felt that he had to score but big Smudger slid in and cleared with his feet on the edge of his box. After fighting off his markers with good close skills Geggan tried one from 25 yards but was wide left.
Dunfermline had a good grip of the game as the twenty minute mark past and Grainger felt that he should have won his side a penalty when he was tumbled on the left side of the Stenny box. Hodge's rash tackle on Byrne handed Forbes the opportunity to try to net from a 20 yard free kick but the wall did its job and although the Pars had two quick corners that Forbes sent in from the right they did not give Smith anything to do.
Then at the other end Byrne conceded a free kick on the left corner of the box and Greacen came extremely close to opening the scoring as that flashed into the six yard box. The ball miraculously kept out and a corner on the left was all that Stenny had to show for it. Bryan Hodge met that and crashed a fine low shot narrowly wide of the left goalpost.
With half time approaching Husband made a run and punctuated that with a shot that was off target. In 39th minute Shankland had a good effort from the right corner of the box but the ball was swinging just wide all the way. Two minutes later Shankland sent another wide and the sides were to go in all square after a disappointingly lacklustre first half.
Half time: Dunfermline 0 Stenhousemuir 0
The Pars started the second 45 with much greater urgency and Grainger powered a shot from 30 yards narrowly over the top and then Smith was forced to punch away an inswinging corner from Forbes. A surging run from Byrne picked out Shankland in the box but the final pass was intercepted and a corner followed.
Next Chris Smith had to clutch the ball away from Shankland before Jim Jefferies made his first change of the afternoon bringing on striker Allan Smith to take the place of Faissal El Bakhtaoui. On the hour a Grainger throw in was flicked on by Geggan for Shankland but he unfortunately headed high and wide.
When Smith was struggling to keep Shankland out and conceded a corner on the right. When that came over the big keeper failed to hold and Shankland effort looked like going in but somehow the ball stayed out. Page also came close with a header as the Pars dominated.
In 74 minutes Husband switched the ball left to Grainger who drilled the ball low into the six yard box only to see Thomson and Geggan narrowly miss the connection to put the ball in the net. Next there was real pinball in the visitors' box, Grainger hit the post but still they survived. In 79 minutes another Grainger cross was belted away before Thomson could meet it. Two more minutes past before Grainger had a shot from 25 yards but that squirmed wide right.
In 81 minutes Ross McNeil replaced Sean Dickson and the Pars defence had to be on their toes as the Stenhousemuir sub shot judst wide and thenm McMilan headed an effort that slipped over off the crossbar. At the other end Smith's shot from an acute angle was deflected on to the roof of the net. On 87 minutes Errol Douglas looked certain to break the deadlock when the ball dropped at his feet 12 yards out but Page put in a tremendous last gasp tackle to deny him the shot.
The Pars chances kept coming too with Forbes feeding Thomson but Smith saved. Geggan had another chance of a last minute glory and then Byrne tested Smith. Last chance went to David Rowson but his drive was blocked as two defenders dived in. Quite a finish but no goals. Three minutes of added time came and went but this was to be Dunfermline's first 0-0 game of the season.
DUNFERMLINE: Ryan Scully; Ross Millen (Ryan Williamson 67), Jonathan Page, Callum Morris, Danny Grainger; Andy Geggan (c), Stephen Husband, Shaun Byrne, Ross Forbes; Lawrence Shankland (Ryan Thomson 67), Faissal El Bakhtaoui (Allan Smith 56).
SUBS NOT USED: Lewis Martin, Craig Dargo, Lewis Spence, Ryan Goodfellow (GK)
STENHOUSEMUIR: Chris Smith; Nicky Devlin, Eddie Malone, Ross McMillan, Stewart Greacen, Sean Lynch (Kevin McKinlay 73), Darren Smith (Errol Douglas 67), David Rowson, Bryan Hodge, Sean Dickson (Ross McNeil 81), Sean Higgins.
SUBS NOT USED: Brown Ferguson, Josh Watt, Kris Faulds, Dean Shaw (GK)
YELLOW CARD: Malone (23), Hodge (59)
REFEREE: Crawford Allan
WEATHER: Sunny, windy 8C
50/50 HALF TIME DRAW: Ticket number 89548 won £593