SPFL League One: PETERHEAD 0 DUNFERMLINE 0: 23/01/16
The Pars second league game of the season was at a cold and breezy Balmoor Stadium at Peterhead. With both teams in a good run of form it was no surprise that both managers named unchanged elevens. Marc McAusland was fit enough for a seat on the bench having recovered the ankle injury incurred against Cowdenbeath on 2nd January.
Peterhead are the only team to have defeated the Pars away from home in the league this season. They have not lost a home league game since September but then Dunfermline have not lost in the league since September. So this game was definitely the League One Match of the Day.
The home side kicked off after both teams changed ends and it was the visitors who forced a corner within three minutes. Shaun Rooney's ball in towards Michael Moffat cut out and turned behind. When Michael Paton delivered that from the right the Peterhead defence cleared easily.
The Blue Toon pushed up in sixth minute Shane Sutherland forcing Ben Richards-Everton to concede a throw in midway into the Pars half. From that the ball was duly swung into the Fifers box but the Pars defence also dealt easily with that.
A Peterhead corner was then punched away by Sean Murdoch and Moffat sped away on the counterattack. His ball to Faissal El Bakhtaoui set up a great chance as Paton was free in the middle but Faiss hit the ball at keeper Graeme Smith.
Back at the other end Murdoch made the first serious save of the game to deny Jamie Stevenson who produced a snapshot from 25 yards out. Next Rory McAllister was given an opportunity from a free kick the same distance out after Andy Geggan had spilled Sutherland.
A long ball through almost let Moffat in but Smith got enough on the ball to keep it out. It was end to end stuff and Murdoch had to fist a ball lobbed over from distance by Ryan Strachan. There was a spell where Murdoch was kept busy but only with loose balls through.
It was a ball looped out from Geggan to Cardle wide right that created the best Pars chance thus far. El Bakhtaoui met the cross first time and his low shot through a sea of legs was kicked away by keeper Smith. Sutherland replied with a low shot from 25 yards that Murdoch dropped to his left to hold.
There were appeals for a penalty but only from the away support behind the goal, when Moffat's chip in the box appeared to hit a Peterhead hand. In 28th minute the Pars were unlucky when the offside flag was raised for Cardle's run on the right. A shame since Moffat and El Bakhtaoui had linked well to send Joe away.
Most Pars fans considered Peterhead's Scott Ross lucky to remain on the park after it looked like a two footed tackle on El Bakhtaoui on the half hour. Referee Crawford Allan produced a yellow card and after treatment the Pars striker was able to return to the fray.
Kevin Dzierzawski was penalised for a late tackle on Falkingham and the free kick sent Dunfermline back upfield. El Bakhtaoui forced a corner on the right and from Paton's cross Geggan powered a header on target but it was kept out by an opponent's back. Another corner in 37 minutes this time from the left fell for Geggan but he sliced the shot out right of goal.
As much as Dunfermline went forward there was continually defending to be done. Three minutes later a Peterhead corner conceded by Brad McKay was headed away by the on loan central defender. Then McAllister smashed an effort from 20 yards out that soared over the bar and out the park. Another good chance was then sent over the crossbar when Stevenson was on the end of a cross the box pass from Sutherland.
Peterhead forced another corner as the home crowd sensed a final push before the interval but McKay again got that away. What's more he released a good ball right for Paton who in turn switched in left for Cardle. Only problem, Geggan who had sprinted up for the cross could not get enough on his header to trouble Smith.
Having been pressed by the Fifers for the opening twenty minutes Peterhead fought back into the game and finished the half stronger. Both sides had good chances and the home side with the wind on their backs had shot at ever opportunity.
Half time: Peterhead 0 Dunfermline 0
The second half was ten minutes old before there was any sort of goalmouth activity and it all of a sudden came at both ends. A Peterhead corner in from the right required two rather desperate Pars headers to keep it out and then with a swift counterattack El Bakhtaoui found himself in possession on the edge of the Peterhead box and he carried the ball across from left to right before getting away a good right footed shot that Smith kept out with his outstretched left foot.
Right on the hour mark Cardle swept over a really good cross from the left wing and Geggan was desperately unlucky to see his header just fall outside the right goalpost. Then in 64 minutes Geggan again met a good ball into the box. This time it was from a Paton free kick after Referee Crawford Allan had quite rightly blown up for Dzierzawski's late follow through on Geggan. Geggs header was on target but Smith did enough to turn it round his right hand post.
Dunfermline made a double substitution bringing on David Hopkirk and Ryan Wallace in place of Michael Paton and Michael Moffat with 25 minutes remaining. The visitors were getting the ball forward but wind assisted too often it got to keeper Graeme Smith who started to waste time at every opportunity. El Bakhtaoui showed his frustration with a shot from 40 yards that Smith gathered without difficulty.
Wallace picked out Cardle in the centre of the Peterhead penalty box but his 76th minute turn could not provide the killer touch. Dzierzawski's trip on El Bakhtaoui stopped the break and when that free kick was played to the far side of the box, Rooney's ball in was played behind for a Pars corner. That came to nothing and the next attempt in 81st minute was a curling shot from Hopkirk that cleared the bar.
McAllister threatened on the break in the following minute but Geggan headed away his cross into the box. Then Dzierzawski had an effort deflected behind off the legs of Richards-Everton.
Five minutes from time a long McKay ball from deep had Wallace racing into the box but Smith reached the ball first. El Bakhtaoui embarked upon an 88th minute run and his ball through for Hopkirk looked like it would create the much sought after winner but the Pars sub went over on the edge of the box only to earn a yellow card for going over too softly.
The Fifers ended up pressing the Peterhead goal but after four minutes of added time the final whistle heralded one point for either side. A point possibly better for league leaders Dunfermline than for Peterhead whose manager Jim McInally was to rule out catching them this season.
PETERHEAD: Graeme Smith; Jamie Stevenson (Jordan Brown 61), Scott Ross, Ally Gilchrist, Steven Noble; Ryan Strachan, James Redman, Kevin Dzierzawski, Shane Sutherland, Simon Ferry (Leighton McIntosh 51), Rory McAllister (Nicky Riley 90).
SUBS NOT USED: Nathan Blockley, Andy Rodgers, Scott Ferries, Paul Jarvie (GK).
YELLOW CARD: Ross (30)
DUNFERMLINE: Sean Murdoch; Shaun Rooney, Brad McKay, Ben Richards-Everton, Jason Talbot; Michael Paton (David Hopkirk 65), Andy Geggan (c), Josh Falkingham, Joe Cardle; Michael Moffat (Ryan Wallace, 65), Faissal El Bakhtaoui.
SUBS NOT USED: Rhys McCabe, Shaun Byrne, Marc McAusland, David Hutton (GK)
YELLOW CARD: Hopkirk (88)
REFEREE: Crawford Allan
WEATHER: Cold windy dry 8C
NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes League One: (home) v Airdrieonians, Friday 29th January 2026, kick off 7.45pm at East End Park