SPFL League One: DUNFERMLINE 6 STRANRAER 1: 27/02/16
Manager Allan Johnston went with the same again starting eleven for the fourth successive game and Stranraer manager Brian Reid made one change from the team that got a draw the previous Saturday at Airdrie. That meant that former Pars player Ryan Thomson came in for Jamie Longworth bringing the complement of former Eastenders up to four in the visitors starting team; Andy Stirling, Steven Bell and Willie Gibson being the others.
McGuigan and Thomson got the match underway attacking the goal at the McCathie Stand end which meant their defence had to cope with bright sunshine into their eyes. Faissal El Bakhtaoui forced a fourth minute corner but when Michael Paton centred the Stranraer defence dealt adequately with that.
In fifth minute Scott Rumsby mopped up a Bell mistake that had given El Bakhtaoui a sight of goal. Two minutes later Sean Murdoch plucked a Gibson free kick out of the air in the middle of his box. Physio Kenny Murray was called upon after Paul Cairney's challenge on Josh Falkingham floored the Pars midfielder but he was fit to continue.
In 11 minutes there were great expectations when El Bakhtaoui's pass to Joe Cardle was not taken out by Scott Robertson and Cardle home in on goal but his shot from 20 yards was well blocked by Rumsby and the follow up ended up presented to Cairney.
Three minutes later a Paton corner from the right produced another great chance for the Pars but Andy Geggan couldn't get in a decent shot and Michael Moffat's attempt at the second ball was sent wide left. Next a Jason Talbot cross was met by the head of Craig Reid but the direction on his effort sent the ball wide left where Cameron Belford gathered.
El Bakhtaoui had the ball in the net in 18 minutes but was clearly offside in front of goal when Cardle punctuated his long run out of defence with an inviting pass. The goal that was so sorely desired duly arrived in 24 minutes. Moffat was sent through with a long ball out of defence and he brushed away the attentions of two defenders before cutting back for Paton to loft the ball across the Stranraer box for Cardle to return for EL BAKHTAOUI to execute a good finish. 1-0
On the half hour Moffat had two quick chances. The first he sent over the crossbar from 16 yards and then when the goal kick was immediately sent bouncing back towards Belford, Moffat challenged but came off second best in a bemusing moment where neither player appeared to be totally aware of the location of the ball.
Sean Murdoch held a Bell header from a Cairney corner delivered in from the right. The keeper conceded a free kick from Gibson's free kick that was going wide left but he got the delivery away and when play switched to the other end it was a fine individual effort from CARDLE that brought about the second goal of the game. Cutting in from the left Super Joe sent the net bulging with his 42nd minute shot from the edge of the box.
The first half stats credited 53% possession to the visitors who had 4 corners to the Pars two but its goals that count and Dunfermline benefited from 2 successes from 5 shots.
Half time: Dunfermline 2 Stranraer 0
The second half started well for the team from Galloway, first they survived as Falkingham got in behind the right side of their defence. A cut back to Paton might have provided a better return but instead Josh took a blast from an acute angle and the ball went over the top. Then at the other end Mark McGUIGAN turned on the 18 yard and found the net. 2-1
Dunfermline restored their two goal lead within four minutes. Falkingham rushed in from the right and Belford turned his shot out for a corner. From that corner on the right Brad McKay had his header cleared off the line by McGuigan at the far goalpost. Another corner followed and this time when Paton supplied a similar delivery McKAY headed into the middle of the net. 3-1
Then just two minutes later EL BAKHTAOUI was sent through from a Moffat flick on and he finished from the edge of the Stranraer box as the keeper came to meet him. 4-1
The goals continued to rain in with little resistance given. After the ball was centred from the right CARDLE showed composure in front of goal to crash in number five with just 57 minutes on the clock. 5-1
In 63 minutes 17 year old Paul Joseph Crossan subbed Faissal El Bakhtaoui and the debut boy was presented with a great chance as Cardle slipped the ball to him in front of goal but two defenders dived in and eventually keeper Belford was able to get his hands on the ball greeted with appeals for a pass back not given.
Joe CARDLE registered his second hattrick of the season with a sound finish in 73 minutes. Sub Ryan Wallace collected the result of a challenge on the edge of the centre circle and laid the ball out left for the fans favourite to stick away. 6-1
In 80th minute Falkingham sent the ball wide left for PJ Crossan and he played a clever one two off Wallace and then sent a curling shot in that squirmed under Belford and just beyond the far post. Four minutes later PJ was squeezed off the ball by Bell as he advanced into the Blues box. He then had a 20 yarder blocked and the only negative was a 90th minute injury to Geggan caught on his foot as he launched a 30 yard attempt on goal.
A convincing win for the league leaders and comforting to see goals from central defender and a hattrick from a wide player.
DUNFERMLINE: Sean Murdoch; Craig Reid, Brad McKay, Ben Richards-Everton, Jason Talbot; Michael Paton, Andy Geggan (c), Josh Falkingham, Joe Cardle (David Hopkirk 75); Michael Moffat (Ryan Wallace 72), Faissal El Bakhtaoui (Paul Joseph Crossan 63).
SUBS NOT USED: Rhys McCabe, Shaun Byrne, Shaun Rooney, David Hutton (GK).
SCORERS: El Bakhtaoui (24, 54), Cardle (42, 57, 73), McKay (52)
STRANRAER: Cameron Belford; Craig Pettigrew, Scott Rumsby, Steven Bell, Liam Dick; Andy Stirling (Kevin Schimidt 65), Scott Robertson (Sam McCloskey 65), Paul Cairney (Kyle Turner 83), Willie Gibson; Mark McGuigan, Ryan Thomson.
SUBS NOT USED: Jamie Longworth, Calvin Kemp, Max Currie (GK)
SCORERS: McGuigan (48)
YELLOW CARD: Robertson (HT)
REFEREE: David Munro
WEATHER: Sunny 7ºC
NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes League One (home) v Stenhousemuir, Saturday 5th March 2016, 3.00pm kick off at East End Park