SPFL League One: DUNFERMLINE 2 FORFAR ATHLETIC 2: 09/04/16
Visitors to East End Park on Grand National day were Gary Bollan's Forfar Athletic. For a team battling to avoid relegation coming up against the side that had already sealed the League One title, this must have felt like approaching Beecher's Brook.
Allan Johnston made six changes to the team that started the previous Saturday against Albion Rovers. Ben Richards-Everton was suspended but Josh Falkingham returned from suspension. Sean Murdoch returned in goal and captained the side in place of Andy Geggan who found himself on the bench along with Craig Reid, David Hopkirk, Faissal El Bakhtaoui and David Hutton from the last selection.
There was a welcome return for both Lewis Martin and Ryan Williamson, the latter returning against the side who were opponents when he sustained his double leg break in August. Starting as well were recent signings Scott Robinson and Conner Duthie.
Forfar showed one change from the team that defeated Peterhead the previous week, Bryan Hodge a 39th minute sub for Michael Kennedy last Saturday continuing in his place.
Forfar kicked off attacking the goal at the McCathie Stand end forcing a corner with just two minutes gone but Gavin Swankie's cross was blocked by Rhys McCabe and then Brad McKay headed away the loose ball.
At the other end Williamson immediately looked himself with two overlapping runs to the byeline, the second picking out Michael Moffat but the ball ended up in the sidenetting. Duthie was soon to impress with a fine pass for Moffat and Robinson too had a nice pass for Ryan Wallace on the top of the Forfar box. In ninth minute Michael Paton created an opportunity for himself 20 yards out but his well struck shot landed just outside the right goalpost.
First threat to the Pars goal was from a 13th minute free kick and SWANKIE drove that low from 25 yards through the Pars wall to find the far right of the net. 0-1 Sean Murdoch had little chance of keeping it out but there will be arguments about whether or not Omar Kader was falling before coming into contact with Robinson in the first place.
Dunfermline's corner in 17th minute was overhit by Paton but Wallace retrieved the ball on the right and centred but McKay's header was all too easily taken by the all in purple keeper, Darren Hill.
Five minutes later when Wallace fed the ball out right to Williamson, the big right back gained ground into the Forfar box but seemed to surprise Duthie with a neat early lay off and the former Hibs man could not get enough on his effort to find the net.
There were some clever passing moves from the Pars but their ball in the final third was letting them down a bit. Forfar earned a 29th minute corner when Martin blocked Kader's cross. Martin headed away right back Scott Martin's delivery and then the Pars hit on the break benefitting from the full back being out of position. Wallace sent a fine ball through into the path of MOFFAT who running into the box from the left, netted in style for a 30th minute equaliser. 1-1
Williamson surprised the visiting defence with a cross from wide right and Thomas O'Brien's diving header took the ball over his own bar for a Pars corner on the left. Duthie got a good connection with his header but a deflection took the ball out right for another corner this time from the right that unfortunately caused no difficulties.
Two Forfar corners in 39th minute were ably defended but the Angus side had two good opportunities as the half concluded. Both fell to former Hamilton Accies striker Andy Ryan. His first crack almost catching out the defence but McKay was behind Murdoch to mop up after the keeper stopped the shot.
54% possession for the Pars in the first half but sides equal on shots and corners. Great to see Ryan Williamson straight back to his previous form.
Half time: Dunfermline 1 Forfar Athletic 1
The second half started fairly evenly. Paton slipped a clever ball to Wallace and his lay off to Robinson was then lofted into the Forfar box but the defence headed clear. At the other end Martin looked like he had done really well to intercept a Forfar cross in from the left but RYAN pounced on the loose ball and drilled it into the Pars net to restore their lead just five minutes into the second half. 1-2
Immediately Dunfermline countered and there were some fairly worthy appeals for a penalty when Moffat was denied a shot as Forfar's Martin sat on the ball and appeared to handle it as well.
In 56 minutes Williamson was played into the box by Wallace and his cut back seemed ideal for Moffat lingering on six yards but he somehow managed to turn the ball over the crossbar. Quite a let off!
Two minutes later it was Wallace who was presented with a shooting chance but from 20 yards he too found the McCathie Stand. Then on the hour a 35 yard free kick was struck powerfully on target by McCabe, Hill did well to halt the ball but in doing so set up the alert, MOFFAT for a tap in. His 15th goal of the season made it 2-2
Duthie rose to direct a Wallace cross on target but the effort was defended. Talbot sprinted up the left in 65 minutes to win a corner off O'Brien and again Forfar cleared. The Loons found themselves pinned well back in their own half as the Pars went for a winner.
Paton was fouled by O'Brien to hand Dunfermline a free kick 28 yards out but this was driven into the wall by Paton. Yet another Williamson run and cut back was defended before play switched to the other end and McKay collected the first card of the afternoon as he halted Kader's progress.
There was a lengthy stoppage for treatment to Ryan in 70 minutes but he returned to carry on. On resumption Talbot tried a run up the left that he punctuated with too strong a cross before in 79 minutes Josh Falkingham replaced Scott Robinson.
It was the sub's pass to Moffat that forced an 84th minute corner but before that was taken Ryan Williamson left the pitch to much acclaim to be subbed by Craig Reid. When the setpiece came in from the left McKay rose to head the ball home but the referee had already blown up for a push on his marker. Little protest.
There was to be not one but two good chances for a home win after referee Craig Charleston awarded the Pars an added time penalty. Moffat stepped up and sent the ball over the bar but the referee ordered a retake due to infringing. The second attempt Moffat sent to the keeper's left and with Hill beaten the post denied the goal to guarantee Forfar a valuable point.
DUNFERMLINE: Sean Murdoch (c); Ryan Williamson (Craig Reid 84), Brad McKay, Lewis Martin, Jason Talbot; Michael Paton, Rhys McCabe, Scott Robinson (Josh Falkingham 79), Conner Duthie, Ryan Wallace, Michael Moffat
SUBS NOT USED: Joe Cardle, Andy Geggan, David Hopkirk, Faissal El Bakhtaoui, David Hutton (GK).
SCORERS: Moffat (30,60)
YELLOW CARD: McKay (71), Falkingham (88)
FORFAR ATHLETIC: Darren Hill, Scott Martin, Thomas O'Brien, Gareth Rodger, Bryan Hodge; Omar Kader, Scott Smith, Gavin Swankie (c), Danny Denholm; Steven Craig (Euan Spark 67), Andy Ryan
SUBS NOT USED: Michael Dunlop, Kerr Hay, Derek Young, James Yates, Frankie Devine, Jason King (GK).
SCORERS: Swankie (13), Ryan (50)
YELLOW CARD: O'Brien (91), Martin (92)
RED CARD: O'Brien (91)
REFEREE: Craig Charleston
WEATHER: Fine 11C
NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes League One: (away) v Stranraer, Saturday 16th April 2016, kick off 3.00pm at Stair Park.