William Hill Scottish Cup: DUNFERMLINE 2 ROSS CO 2: 09/01/16
New signing Brad McKay stepped straight into the Dunfermline Athletic starting eleven for the Scottish Cup tie against Premiership opponents Ross County. That was the only change in the Pars team from the one that defeated Cowdenbeath the previous week. John Potter was on the bench and Cammy Gill named as sub keeper given the lack of experienced defenders available and David Hutton's two game suspension.
Jim McIntrye, the Ross County manager, made three changes to the team defeated at Inverness in the previous match. Brian Graham, Marcus Fraser and Raffaele De Vita came in to take the places of Richard Foster, Craig Curran and Rocco Quinn.
The teams changed ends before Dunfermline kicked off attacking the goal in front of the home support. It was all Ross County in the first two minutes and it was a break down the left channel that allowed Dutchman Alex SCHALK to drill home the opener right on three minutes. It was Graham who received the long ball out of defence from his captain Davies and thread the ball through for the Dutchman to score. 0-1
The Pars response from Dunfermline was good with Michael Paton slipping the ball right in seven minutes for Shaun Rooney and his cross through the six yard box was deflected away from the awaiting Michael Moffat just enough by Scott Fox to avert the equaliser.
Then four minutes later Josh Falkingham broke from his own half sending Faissal El Bakhtaoui away and Paton raced through to fire a fine effort that Fox turned around his left hand post. The corner from the right was only defended so far and a returned ball was turned over the crossbar by Moffat from only five yards out.
The Pars were to get the equaliser however on the quarter hour. Joe Cardle laid a fantastic pass up the left wing for Faissal EL BAKHTAOUI and as he entered the County box evaded the challenge of Marcus Fraser and then Scott Boyd before finishing with a shot through between Fraser and Davies to beat Fox high in the centre of his goal. 1-1
In 18 minutes there was a great chance for Cardle to send the Pars into the lead after El Bakhtaoui squared the ball in from the left side of the County box but Joe sliced his attempt and the Staggies were let off.
Then in 25 minutes Jason Talbot was taken out by Brian Graham's arm in an off the ball incident as County broke forward. Referee Alan Muir played on and then awarded the visitors a penalty after De Vita went down in the box when McKay tackled him. Real controversy as East End Park became a cauldron of protest. Brian GRAHAM convert the penalty giving Sean Murdoch little chance. 1-2
The Pars next attack saw Cardle sandwiched in the County box and the decibels rose again as the McCathie Stand clearly felt that there could have been a second penalty. Rooney had a headed attempt that Fox cleared but the Fifers were up for a fight.
In 36 minutes Scott Boyd was shown yellow for tumbling Moffat as he threatened down the left. Paton sent the free kick in but Ben Richards-Everton headed wide.
Martin Woods was presented with a good opportunity as the ball got switched across from the right but he blasted his shot from 16 yards wide right. Cardle had a shot blocked before there was a prolonged quest for another equaliser before the break. The Pars pushed up and play was deep in the visitor's half but all that was won was a corner.
Half time: Dunfermline 1 Ross County 2
No changes tyo either side as the visitors got the second half underway but it was Dunfermline who threatened first with El Bakhtaoui hitting the right upright just 40 seconds into the second half. The chance came from a Moffat break that sent the ball out wide for the unmarked Cardle and his cross almost did the trick.
Geggan pumped a 50th minute free kick into the box and then Paston returned it but Cardle couldn't reach. Two minutes later Moffatr was rather harshly pulled up as he dispossessed Andrew Davies to run in on goal but the referee found an infringement from somewhere. Then more annoyance in the home ranks as Paton's cross from the right went out for a corner on the left off Fraser's arm.
Justice was done however when McKAY met Paton's corner kick heading powerfully past Fox for 2-2 in 56th minute.
The equaliser was entirely warranted and the East End crowd raised the roof as the cup tie ignited again. County forced a couple of corners and from the second Davies made Falkingham head off the goaline and Jackson Irvine sent the resultant chance wildly wide right.
Woods was then yellow carded for cutting down Falkingham 28 yards out but Paton's free kick was driven into the defensive wall. Cardle made ground down the left to drive a low shot on target that Fox turned around his post for a corner.
In 69 minutes there was another almighty let off for the Premiership side, Cardle made the chance travelling in from the left. He found Moffat who shot from eight yards was deflected and Paton even nearer the goal was denied by the lucky Fox.
The pressure was really on Ross County but the goals were proving hard to come by. Geggan's ball to Rooney overlapping on the right won a corner off Reckord and when that came over Richards-Everton got two bites at a chance before Paton's cross was turned out for another corner.
There was a great East End Park roar as the next corner was about to be taken but unfortunately Fox held this one. In real cup tie tradition there was defending to be done but Falkingham headed clear and Richards-Everton made a fantastic tackle on the edge of the box. In 78 minutes El Bakhtaoui squared for Cardle to cut in from the left and fire a right footed shot at Fox from 20 yards.
An 80th minute corner was easily defended with Moffat clearing and two minutes later Cardle blasted over the bar from the edge of the box after Moffat had allowed El Bakhtaoui's pass to run through him. It had been an impressive second half from the Pars with the shots count being double their visitors. They survived a Gardyne blast in 87 minutes that was sent into the McCathie Stand before there should have been a Dunfermline winner.
El Bakhtaoui's 88th minute shot from 22 yards was net bound until Fox turned it on to his crossbar. Fox had to scramble to deny the in rushing Richards-Everton and the Pars. Cardle had a further chance to be a hero when in added time he burst down the left to set up El Bakhtaoui but he failed to get the chance away.
Hard lines for the League One side who had to be the better team on the day. Fifteen shots at goal in contrast to County's seven. The tie goes to a replay at Dingwall on Tuesday night and Allan Johnston claimed that he will be going there to try and win as he does every game.
DUNFERMLINE: Sean Murdoch; Shaun Rooney, Brad McKay, Ben Richards-Everton, Jason Talbot; Michael Paton, Andy Geggan (c), Josh Falkingham, Joe Cardle; Michael Moffat, Faissal El Bakhtaoui.
SUBS NOT USED: Ryan Wallace, Shaun Byrne, David Hopkirk, Mickael Antoine-Curier, Rhys McCabe, John Potter, Cammy Gill(GK)
SCORERS: El Bakhtaoui (15), McKay (56)
YELLOW CARD: McKay (26)
ROSS COUNTY: Scott Fox; Marcus Fraser (Richard Foster 62), Scott Boyd, Andrew Davies (c), Jamie Reckord; Michael Gardyne, Jackson Irvine, Martin Woods, Raffaele De Vita (Jonathan Franks 62), Brian Graham, Alex Schalk (Ian McShane 73).
SUBS NOT USED: Chris Robertson, Stewart Murdoch, Greg Morrison, Gary Woods (GK).
SCORERS: Schalk (3). Graham (27 pen.)
YELLOW CARD: Boyd (36), Woods (63).
REFEREE: Alan Muir
WEATHER: Cold 0C
NEXT MATCH: William Hill Scottish Cup Fourth Round Replay: (away) v Ross County, Tuesday 12th January 2016, kick off 7.45pm
Ticket number 28724 wins £804