SPFL League One: ALBION ROVERS 0 DUNFERMLINE 1: 02/04/16
Dunfermline travelled to Coatbridge accompanied by a large travelling support out to further celebrate winning the league title last Saturday. The opposition, Darren Young's Albion Rovers went with the same eleven as drew with Airdrieonians in the previous match while Allan Johnston was forced into making two changes.
Rhys McCabe came in for the suspended Josh Falkingham and in goal David Hutton came in for the injured Sean Murdoch. New signing Scott Robinson was on the bench. Last season's League Two champions formed a guard of honour as this season's League One champions entered the field.
Early play was towards the home goal with a second minute corner sent in by Paton defended as Brad McKay attacked it. David Hopkirk had a shot blocked before at the other end shots from Ross Davidson and Gary Fisher were well off target.
The Pars were forced into an eighth minute substitution when Craig Reid limped off to be replaced by Shaun Rooney. The sub was soon involved in an overlap after McCabe had slipped the ball right for Paton to feed onwards but the big man's cross was blocked.
Faissal El Bakhtaoui tried a shot but was wide but then having adjusted his sights then tested keeper Ross Stewart with a good effort on 15 minutes that had the red shirted keeper dive at full stretch to keep him out.
Hopkirk got around his marker, Alan Reid but fired his 20th minute attempt straight at the keeper. Five minutes later McCabe's pass into the left side of the Rovers box looked good for the in running Jason Talbot but Scott McBride made a crucial tackle to concede just a corner. When Paton sent that over Brad McKay just could not get enough purchase on his header and Stewart held easily.
It was a frustrating period for the Fifers who totally dominated play but final balls from McCabe and others failed to do any damage. A 32nd minute corner heralded some hope of breaking the deadlock but Ben Richards-Everton headed wide.
Wallace was next to deliver into the box and this time McKay headed wide. El Bakhtaoui's efforts to get on the end of a ball crossed in from the right were then halted by a Kyle Turnbull header. In 39 minute Talbot was high up the left to receive a McCabe lay off but a combination of Reid and Dunlop got the ball cleared.
In 44 minutes a free kick conceded by Richards-Everton at the right corner flag allowed McBride to send over a decent ball that Rooney headed out only as far as Davidson but he hoisted his shot high over the crossbar.
That was the closest the home side got to corner in the first half which showed Dunfermline had 64% possession. A tricky sticky and bumpy pitch perhaps the cause of just two shots on target in the first 45 minutes.
Half time: Albion Rovers 0 Dunfermline 0
The Pars started the second half strongly with a through ball flighted nicely from McCabe for Hopkirk but as the ball bounced flatly he could not control it and the chance was gone. Next El Bakhtaoui launched a shot on target but the ball was kept out, painfully, by Hopkirk's back.
After five minutes of the half Spas Georgiev produced a snapshot from the edge of the Pars box and Hutton did well to turn the ball over the top for the Rovers first corner of the afternoon. That was successfully defended before in 53 minutes El Bakhtaoui put Hopkirk through again but unfortunately the keeper was able to beat away the striker's shot.
At the other end former Par Scott McBride hurt himself was he desperately tried to get on the end of a Ally Love cross from midway down the Albion left. Play switched back to the home team's half and Wallace was in position to crash a shot over the bar.
Then in 58 minutes the ball was played left from El Bakhtaoui through Geggan to Wallace who then cut in and drilled a low drive on to the right goalpost. Love was clearly offside when a nice touch from McBride played him passed the defence in 63 minutes.
Dunfermline forced two quick corners on the right, the second after Hopkirk had done well to get round his man and centre an inviting ball. Both corners were ably dealt with by the defence that continued to frustrate the league winners.
A McCabe chip from half way picked out Hopkirk on the right side of the box but the ball was booted out for a corner that was yet again defended after McKay had headed goalwards. Albion pushed up and when they won a 70th minute corne Archibald came close from a Davidson cross. That was virtually Archibald's last involvement as Paul Willis came on in his place. Dunfermline then made their second substitution, Joe Cardle replacing Ryan Wallace.
McCabe, then Talbot were yellow carded in 76 and 77th minutes for fouls on Fisher and Willis and two minutes later Rooney was also shown yellow for a tug on Love and given the Albion no.11's reaction he too was shown yellow.
Michael Moffat came on with nine minutes remaining subbing the luckless Hopkirk but it was Albion Rovers who nearly scored. It was a fine 85th minute pass from Willis for Turnbull that took play forward. He fed Love on the left and his cross was hit on target by McBride but Hutton saved.
The much sought after goal duly arrived in 87 minutes and it was for the champions. El Bakhtaoui picked out Cardle on the left and he carved out a chance chipping the ball across the face of goal for EL BAKHTAOUI to head the ball home. 0-1
In 90th minute Moffat sent the ball wide left for Cardle and he drove a good shot in that was kept out by the post. No further scoring but three points to take the season's tally to 75.
ALBION ROVERS: Ross Stewart; Alan Reid, Michael Dunlop, Ross Dunlop, Kyle Turnbull; Gary Fisher, Ross Davidson, Ally Love, Scott McBride, Spas Georgiev, Paul Archibald (Paul Willis 72).
SUBS NOT USED: Mark Ferry, Darren Young, Yves-Marie Kerjean, Blair Lochhead (GK)
YELLOW CARD: Archibald (67), Love (79)
DUNFERMLINE: David Hutton; Craig Reid (Shaun Rooney 8), Brad McKay, Ben Richards-Everton, Jason Talbot; Michael Paton, Andy Geggan (c), Ryhs McCabe, David Hopkirk (Michael Moffat 81); Ryan Wallace (Joe Cardle 74), Faissal El Bakhtaoui.
SUBS NOT USED: Shaun Byrne, Lewis Martin, Scott Robinson, Cammy Gill (GK).
SCORERS: El Bakhtaoui (87)
YELLOW CARD: Geggan (62), McCabe (76), Talbot (77), Rooney (79), El Bakhtaoui (88)
REFEREE: Mat Northcroft
WEATHER: Cloudy 11C
NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes League One (home) v Forfar Athletic, Saturday 9th April 2016 kick off 3.00pm at East End Park.