Irn-Bru Challenge Cup: BRECHIN CITY 1 DUNFERMLINE 5: 03/09/16
Irn-Bru Cup: Lee Ashcroft (17) 0-1: Dougie Hill (25 og) 0-2: Ally Love (26) 1-2: Paul McMullan (49) 1-3: Gavin Reilly (80) 1-4: Lee Ashcroft (90+2) 1-5.
The Pars eventually ran out comfortable winners in this third round tie in the Irn Bru Cup, but were made to work hard by their lower division hosts.
Allan Johnston took the opportunity to make four changes to the team that had lost to Queen of the South – giving a debut to Nicky Clark, replacing the suspended Talbot with Martin and also allowing Fordyce and McMullan a chance to stake their claims. Among the familiar faces in the Brechin line-up was former Par Finn Graham.
After a 10 minute delay to accommodate Pars fans caught in tailbacks at the Friarton Bridge, the Pars took the kick-off and were soon on the front foot with Williamson seeing lots of the ball in an advanced position, but although he won a couple of corners the Pars were unable to worry Smith in the Brechin goal – an early McCabe shot being well off target.
Reilly was the more prominent of the front pairing, but good interplay set up his partner Clark in nine minutes, but he stumbled just as he got clear of the home defence.
Paton picked out Reilly after a break down the right in 14th minute, but the striker couldn’t get his header on target. Two minutes later the same player was denied in the act of shooting after Smith elected to clear another Paton cross with his foot. However, the Pars won a corner, and this time Smith chose to punch, mistimed it, and the ball flew to ASHCROFT who was able to nod it into the net. 0-1
Graham picked up an early booking after a firm tackle on McCabe as the home team tried to get back into the match. They won their first corner half way through the first period, but this was easily defended. instead defensive problems at the other end proved costly as a fine McMullan pass into the channel sent Reilly away. His cutback was met by Willie Dyer who under pressure from Paton only managed to ricochet the ball off HILL past his own keeper. 0-2
Brechin needed a quick response, and got it immediately – the Pars only half-cleared a cross and LOVE hit a fine volley from the edge of the box past the despairing dive of Hutton. 1-2
Four minutes later and it could have been two apiece – a ballfrom the left was flicked on by Caldwell but Love put the ball over the bar from close range.
The Pars had a late chance when McCabe slipped the ball through to Geggan, but Smith was out quickly to fall on the ball. Nevertheless, the Pars would have been happy to have had the lead at the break.
Half time: Brechin City 1 Dunfermline Athletic 2
Brechin kicked of the second half and Hutton was soon in action, sprinting 20 yards from his line to clear after Love appeared to have sprung the off-side trap. The Pars keeper was less bothered soon after by a long distance shot from Paul McLean which failed to find the target.
However, some of Brechin’s resistance was snuffed out when the Pars extended their lead with a well taken goal. Paton made space on the right before switching play to McCabe on the left, he laid the ball back to MCMULLAN who had time to turn and place the ball beyond Smith. 1-3
Again Love had an immediate chance to pull one back – a cross from the right was not fully cleared, the ball being returned to the back post but Love’s acrobatic effort was off-target. One minute later and again it was Love, this time on the left, picking up a cross-field pass but this time Hutton did well to save at his near post.
Having survived this, the Pars looked to extend their lead further. McCabe showed excellent technique with a volley from 25 yards, but Smith was well-positioned to save. The Brechin stopper again showed his experience to smother a Clark effort from close range after McMullan’s teasing chip into the box had set up the chance.
The Pars’ defence then appeared to switch off on a couple of occasions – from a 56th minute free-kick the substitute Ford was allowed a free shot, which he failed to take, before Martin had to concede a corner when Brechin made ground down the right.
Cardle replaced Paton, then Herron made his debut at the expense of McCabe. Cardle soon won a corner, which he took himself and Clark nearly got himself on the scoresheet with a glancing header.
The Pars did score a fourth after a mistake by Rodgers – the centre-back allowed his clearance to hit REILLY who ran onto the loose ball before a composed finish beat Smith from 15 yards. 1-4
Higginbotham got a late run in place of Clark and as the home team tired, Dunfermline had chances to embellish the score-line. Geggan slipped at the crucial juncture shaping to volley Cardle’s chip and Joe himself was frustrated by Smith’s save at the near post. Then, with the game into stoppage time, the Pars won a free-kick on the right, 30 yards from goal. Higginbotham slung the ball to the back post where an unmarked ASHCROFT completed a double with a simple header. 1-5
BRECHIN CITY: Graeme Smith, Paul McLean, Willie Dyer (Elliot Ford 59), Euan Smith, Dougie Hill, Gareth Rodgers, James Dale, Finn Graham, Ross Caldwell, Aron Lynas, Ally Love
SUBS NOT USED: Darren McCormack, Chris O’Neil, Darren Dods, Patrick O’Neil (GK)
SCORERS: Love (26)
YELLOW CARD: Graham (20)
DUNFERMLINE: David Hutton, Ryan Williamson, Lee Ashcroft, Callum Fordyce, Lewis Martin, Michael Paton (Joe Cardle 68), Andy Geggan, Rhys McCabe (John Herron 76), Paul McMullan, Gavin Reilly, Nicky Clark (Kallum Higginbotham 82)
SUBS NOT USED: Ben Richards-Everton, Lewis Spence, Michael Moffat, Cammy Gill (GK)
SCORERS: Ashcroft (17, 90+2), Hill (o.g. 25), McMullan (49), Reilly (80)
REFEREE: Crawford Allan
WEATHER: 18C overcast
NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship (home) v Dundee United
Saturday 10th September 2016, 3.00pm kick off at East End Park