Betfred Cup: DUNDEE UNITED 2 DUNFERMLINE 0: 31/07/16
The final place in the next round of the Betfred Cup awaited one of teams that met at Tannadice on Sunday. Following all the other games being played the previous day it was clear that if Dunfermline were to win they would qualify as one of four best runners up. However a draw would be good enough for Dundee United and even if they won and topped the section, they still would not have secured a seeded place in the last sixteen because four other section winners had more points.
Smarting from the heavy home defeat to Inverness Caley Thistle in midweek, Dunfermline made an enforced change due to the suspension of captain Andy Geggan, Nat Wedderburn taking up his role in midfield and Lewis Martin started in place of Ryan Williamson.
The home side made three changes from the side that faced Caley Thistle last time out. Jamie Robson replaced Paul Nixon and Tope Obadeyi and Scott Fraser came in for Blair Spittal and Cammy Smith.
The teams changed ends before the home side kicked off through Simon Murray attacking the goal in front of the home support. United enjoyed the early possession with Robson and Toshney both getting crosses into the Pars box that were suitably defended.
There was a heart in mouth moment in fifth minute when Scott Fraser cut in from the left and planted a ball to the near post where Lee Ashcroft and then David Hutton got the vital touches to keep United out. Within two minutes a weak pass back from Rhys McCabe set up Murray but the Pars were let off when the United no.9 hit his shot at the advancing Hutton.
There was a breather for the Pars defence when the Pars forced the first corner of the match a tenth minute and when Higginbotham crossed that in from the right Richards-Everton`s header went over the crossbar.
Play continued in the United half and the Pars looked more threatening with Wedderburn fighting his way into the United box but with the ball sitting up around the edge of the United box no one could get the shot in. Indeed it was United who then got two shots at goal both from Fraser and Richards-Everton headed over and the next one he struck narrowly over the top.
Tope Obedeyi swung another inviting ball through the Fifers six yard box in 18th minute and fortunately there were no takers. Murray was next to create danger, wriggling to evade being dispossessed in the box by Richards-Everton and eventually Ashcroft without getting in a shot.
United skipper, Willo Flood then punched the ball into the Pars six yard box but again Dunfermline were fortunate that none of their opponents could get the fine touch required to beat Hutton. Spence took the heat off the defence sending the ball deep right where Mark Durnan under pressure from Moffat conceded a throw in. Martin took it to McCabe who returned it for the full back to loft into the box but again there were no finishers.
Van der Velden then flashed the ball narrowly wide left with a powerful low drive from 25 yards.Then a 31st minute Pars corner delivered by Higginbotham from the left gave Richards-Everton a chance to glance a header on target that keeper Cammy Bell was well positioned to hold.
Play ebbed up and down the field with promising positions being created without the goalkeepers being overworked. McCabe was forced to retire in 37th minute and Paul McMullan replaced him. Joe Cardle was then denied a penalty after it looked like Lewis Toshney clipped him on the left side of the penalty box.
Then there was another chance for United van der Velden drilling a shot low from 28 yards and Hutton was able to hold albeit at his second attempt. There was one final chance for Dunfermline Higginbotham directing the ball towards Richards-Everton at the far post. The ball came back across the six yard box and Wedderburn had a good chance but his header sneaked over the bar.
It was a frantic first half with the game being played at great pace. The Fifers did well to contain United in the first quarter of an hour. After that Dunfermline gradually got to grips with United and progressed as the clock ticked on. Television decided that Cardle`s claim for a penalty was not warranted but that will probably only up the desire in the second half.
Half time: Dundee United 0 Dunfermline 0
Dunfermline had the first chance of the second half after Moffat was fouled 22 yards out but Higginbotham`s lay off to Cardle was crashed into the defensive wall. The home side then showed the way to goal Robson`s exchange with van der Velden taking play down the left. Robson was able to cross and Obedeyi`s header took the ball to MURRAY six yards out to head past Hutton. 1-0
The Pars attempt to hit right back from a Higginbotham free kick was blown up by referee John McKendrick for offside as Ashcroft`s header was saved by Bell. Flood thumped a shot narrowly wide and then two corners in 56 minutes were defended and four minutes later Hutton was out sharpish to save at the feet of Murray.
Robson was yellow carded in 63 minutes for cutting down Cardle but Higginbotham`s free kick was defended. After a number of United foray`s the Pars got a shot on target from Talbot but that was blocked. At the other end Ashcroft blotted out a Fraser shot before Moffat won a corner after bursting into the United box on the left. United survived the corner and then from one for them on the right Flood was played in short and he launched a shot on target that Hutton held.
James Thomas was introduced in place of the injured Wedderburn and although Dunfermline were within shooting distance, Higginbotham hit one into the crowd and then Thomas could not get high enough to connect with a Cardle cross.
A United free kick in 83 minutes gave Hutton no chance FRASER clearing the wall and hitting the top corner from 25 yards. 2-0
After that McMullan had a shot on target but it had not enough on it to trouble Bell. Martin overhit a cross from the right touchline and Higginbotham sent a free kick from the same spot but Richards-Everton could not get in a shot when he gathered the ball at the far side.
In added time Thomas injured himself in a tackle meaning Scott Lochhead made his Dunfermline debut in 93rd minute. Cardle had one final chance but he failed get round keeper Bell and the Pars interest in this season`s Betfred Cup was over.
DUNDEE UNITED: Cammy Bell, Lewis Toshney, Mark Durnan, Jamie Robson, Coll Donaldson, Willo Flood (c), Temitope Obadeyi (Blair Spittal 69), Nick van der Velden (Charlie Telfer 85), Stewart Murdoch, Scott Fraser, Simon Murray (Henri Anier 78)
SUBS NOT USED: Justin Johnston, Sean Dillon, Harry Souttar, Luis Zwick (GK),
SCORERS: Murray (48), Fraser (83)
YELLOW CARD: van der Velden (45+1), Robson (63)
DUNFERMLINE: David Hutton: Lewis Martin, Lee Ashcroft, Ben Richards-Everton, Jason Talbot: Rhys McCabe (Paul McMullan 37), Nat Wedderburn (James Thomas 78 (Scott Lochhead 93)), Lewis Spence, Joe Cardle (c): Michael Moffat, Kallum Higginbotham.
SUBS NOT USED: Callum Smith, Michael Paton, Callum Fordyce, Cammy Gill (GK)
YELLOW CARD: Higginbotham (44), Richards-Everton (82)
REFEREE: John McKendrick
WEATHER: Bright 18C
NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship (home) v Dundee United Saturday 6th August, kick off 3.00pm at East End Park