William Hill Scottish Cup: ROSS CO 1 DUNFERMLINE 0: 12/01/16
Manager Allan Johnston named the same starting eleven as were held to a draw at East End Park on Saturday. The bench was unused so it too got a vote of confidence. For the home side, their manager Jim McIntyre made four changes. Out went Jamie Reckord, Scott Boyd, Raffaele De Vita and Martin Woods making room for Richard Foster, Jonathan Franks, Stewart Murdoch and Chris Robertson.
The draw for the next round of the cup paired the winners of this tie against the winners of the replay between Forfar Athletic and Linlithgow Rose but neither team or management was willing to think about that until after this match.
As on Saturday the teams changed ends before the League One kicked off attacking the goal at the Academy end. Within ninety seconds Joe Cardle had two chances. Firstly Faissal El Bakhtaoui burst up the right after robbing the ball off Andrew Davies and when Faiss got forward he crossed for Cardle but the former Ross County player smashed his shot at the rear of Marcus Fraser.
In the next move El Bakhtaoui managed another cross and this time it travelled to Cardle on the far side of the penalty box but he was bundled off the ball by Fraser. Loud appeals for a penalty from the Pars bench and from the couple of hundred travelling fans crammed into the stand on the far side at the Academy end.
In seven minutes there was an opportunity for County but the Pars defence survived Murdoch's attempt and the Fifers' Murdoch was able to recover and hold. As the match assumed another real cup tie fight, El Bakhtaoui took play to the other end but his shot was blocked.
Michael Paton's 11th minute free kick was sent into the box but Shaun Rooney's header did not have enough on it to trouble Scott Fox. Back to the other end Brad McKay cleared a good attempt from Franks and then Sean Murdoch turned the ball behind when Franks was presented with the best chance of the night thus far. The corner from the right was met by Davies' head but sent the ball over from 8 yards out.
Ross County demonstrated their SPL class with a fine move from Jackson Irvine through Brian Graham then out to Michael Gardyne but Rooney was fortunately able to belt the ball out for a throw in when Gardyne was unable to control the pass. Michael Moffat was next to set up a chance and it was the most unlikely potential striker in the centre of the penalty box in Rooney but he could not turn or get any assistance and the chance was gone.
The Staggies were presented a chance from Cardle's weak pass back and Murdoch only just got to the ball first. Play switched back to the other end with Moffat first picking out Paton and then Moffat feeding Cardle but neither could pull the trigger on a shot at Fox.
County predictably took the ball up the park and Franks swung over a dangerous cross from the right aimed at Graham at the far post but Murdoch held. In 31 minutes Schalk went down on the edge of the box and after playing on referee Alan Muir awarded the free kick but when Franks sent that in the defence cleared but Fraser's return created a really good opportunity when Graham attacked the ball at the far post but he sent it over.
A challenge on Cardle won a free kick that was pumped into the box by Paton but again to little effect and Cardle's half chance was hammered into a defender. Jason Talbot fought his way into the Ross County box and his touch allowed El Bakhtaoui to have a crack at goal but Fox was ideally placed to stop it at the near post.
Foster accepted the pass from Gardyne to provide the 41st minute attack where Irvine's glancing header dropped for Franks and Ben Richards-Everton rose to nod away the danger. Both teams had free kicks in the final minute of the first half. Paton lofted the Pars one from the left touchline for Fox to hold at the far post and then Richards-Everton was yellow carded for a rash tackle on Dutchman Alex Schalk and after the striker limped off Gardyne despatched his effort over the wall and crossbar from 25 yards out.
Half time: Ross County 0 Dunfermline 0
Ross County brought on Raffaele De Vita for Jonathan Franks before they got the second half underway. Fraser was presented with a good early opportunity but sent his shot well over the bar. Play stopped just five minutes into the half for an injury to Richards-Everton and as physio Kenny Murray went on John Potter went out to warm up. Fortunately BRE was fit to continue.
Paton had the Pars first shot on target of the second half El Bakhtaoui cutting in from the left to set up the Pars number seven but his effort from the edge of the box was straight at Fox.
De Vita was jeered by the travelling support as he slipped right in front of them but Schalk collected his pass and sent a dangerous ball in under the post and fortunately McKay was on hand to head clear.
Play stopped again in 58 minutes as Schalk and Geggan clashed heads. Both physios raced on and Geggan jumped up but when he returned to the technical area the fourth official sent him inside for stitching to a cut brow.
Rooney rather nervously conceded a 62 minute corner that short one was blocked by Falkingham for another. Next one referee Alan Muir blew up for pushing and the Pars were restored to full compliment as Geggan reappeared in a clean blank numbered shirt and well bandaged around his head.
David Hopkirk became the first Dunfermline substitute of the cup tie replacing Joe Cardle in 66 minutes and Ross County introduced Ian McShane two minutes later, Jackson Irvine going off. El Bakhtaoui then had good opportunity but again the goalkeeper had the ball struck straight at him.
The visitors then paid dearly for not taking their chances as Ross County found the net twenty minutes from time. Gardyne supplied the delivery from the left and the ball travelled through the defence to DE VITA on the far side and he thrashed the ball past Murdoch for the opener. 1-0
Rhys McCabe was the next Pars sub when Richards-Everton could not continue in 76 minutes. Then three minutes later Allan Johnston made his final throw of the dice introducing Ryan Wallace for Michael Moffat. Wallace tried to work himself into a good position on the left side of the County box but was closed out. McCabe tried a pass through the middle that was cut out and Paton swung the ball in from the right. Hopkirk tried to run through the defence from the left and Rooney drove a return into the six yard box that was headed wide.
An 85th minute free kick was lofted in from 40 yards by Wallace but Robertson in the Staggies defence headed away. The home crowd got increasingly quiet as Dunfermline piled forward but Fox eventually plucked Falkingham's cross out the clear evening air.
It was certainly a never say die attitude with Allan Johnston still encouraging his team forward as injury time beckoned. If an equaliser could be found the momentum would definitely have been with the Fifers.
There were four added minuites as Hopkirk crossed for Wallace at the far post. He went down but there was no serious penalty appeal. Falkingham and McCabe then had cracks with the ball eventually going over the top. A 93rd minute corner got Sean Murdoch sprinting forward but the short taken corner was wasted.
Dunfermline certainly did not go out of the Scottish Cup without a fight but after six minutes of added time they were out. Best wishes to Ross County in the further stages of the competition.
Thanks to Ross County for superfast wifi connection.
ROSS COUNTY: Scott Fox; Marcus Fraser, Chris Robertson, Andrew Davies (c), Richard Foster; Jonathan Franks (Raffaele De Vita HT), Jackson Irvine (Ian McShane 68), Stewart Murdoch, Michael Gardyne; Brian Graham, Alex Schalk (Rocco Quinn 75).
SUBS NOT USED: Jamie Reckord, Scott Boyd, Greg Morrison, Gary Woods (GK).
SCORERS: De Vita (70)
YELLOW CARD: De Vita (79)
DUNFERMLINE: Sean Murdoch; Shaun Rooney, Brad McKay, Ben Richards-Everton (Rhys McCabe 76), Jason Talbot; Michael Paton, Andy Geggan (c), Josh Falkingham, Joe Cardle (David Hopkirk 66); Michael Moffat (Ryan Wallace 79), Faissal El Bakhtaoui.
SUBS NOT USED: Shaun Byrne, Mickael Antoine-Curier, John Potter, Cammy Gill (GK)
YELLOW CARD: Rooney (36), Richards-Everton (45+1), Moffat (53)
REFEREE: Alan Muir
WEATHER: Cold 4C
NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes League One: (home) v Albion Rovers, Saturday 16 January, 3.00pm kick off at East End Park