SPFL Championship: DUNFERMLINE 1 DUNDEE UNITED 1: 28/01/17
Two changes as Jason Talbot and Michael Moffat return. Tony Andreu (18) 0-1. John Herron (28) 1-1:
Dundee United were the visitors to East End Park for the third time this season in what was the fifth fixture between the sides since the end of August. Arriving from on the back of no wins in their last four United were seeking to get back on track against a club who were on a ten match unbeaten run.
Manager Allan Johnston restored both Jason Talbot and Michael Moffat to the starting eleven meaning Lewis Martin and Gavin Reilly were back on the bench. United made five changes. out went Jamie Robson, Charlie Telfer, Stewart Murdoch, Simon Murray and Tope Obadeyi. In came Thomas Mikkelsen, Paul Dixon, Lewis Toshney, Blair Spittal and Willo Flood, three changes in their midfield possibly suggesting where it all went wrong at Dingwall the previous Saturday.
The visitors kicked off attacking the goal at the McCathie Stand end but the first threat came from the Fifers in the second minute when Nicky Clark nodded down the ball to set up Moffat to break but Frank Van Der Struik made a timely tackle to deny an early attempt.
United ventured forward and Sean Murdoch made a confidence building take before William Edjenquele was shown the first yellow card of the match in just the sixth minute. The big no.14 went right through John Herron and Kallum Higginbotham launched in the free kick that United got away.
Then two minutes later the East End faithful roared in anticipation as Nicky Clark raced forward. Moffat was well positioned to his right and the pass was perfect but although the striker`s attempt beat Cammy Bell, Edjenquele was behind him to stop the shot and Bell then smothered the loose ball.
Play was fairly even and both sides enjoyed periods of possession but in 18th minute United showed how to take a chance. Tony ANDREU fired an opportunist`s effort into the defenders on the top of the Pars box and when the ball rebounded back to him he sunk his shot in the bottom left corner of the net. 0-1
The lead might have doubled within two minutes, Spittal seeing his shot from 25 yards out go behind off the right goalpost. In 24 minutes a Moffat pass invited McMullan to run on to meet it on the right side of the United box but Bell was quickly off his line to put an end to the danger.
A cynical Toshney tackle on McMullan handed the Pars a 26th minute free kick but when the chance fell to Herron he fired wide from the edge of the box. Then another free kick in the very next minute led to the Pars equaliser. Higginbotham on the left hit the ball low to Nat Wedderburn who was lying deep. The midfielder returned a pass wide to Higginbotham who drew a defender before sending over the perfect ball for HERRON to meet and head home. The scorer`s first goal for the club was greatly celebrated with both his team mates and the bench. 1-1
Defender Mark Durnan crashed into keeper Bell but he was able to continue after a three minute stoppage.
As half time approached the visitors forced two corners on the right and Andreu got in a shot from the edge of the box that was well blocked. In 38 minutes was down well to stop a Mikkelsen break into the box before the United striker was caught offside as Callum Morris cut him down in the box.
The half ended with the Taysiders in the ascendancy and Murdoch pulled off a very fine save after Andreu had played Mikkelsen in on the top of the box. Final opportunity of the half might have come the Pars way but after a fine Geggan run down the right and lay off to McMullan was then cut out before it could reach Moffat.
All square at the break then but the stats showed 58% Dundee United possession and six shots to the Pars two.
Half time: Dunfermline 1 Dundee United 1
The visitors changed keepers before the second half got underway, Luis Zwick replaced Cammy Bell who had received treatment for a couple of minutes after Herron`s goal.
Mark Durnan was shown a yellow card in 50th minute for a block on Higginbotham but when he drilled a low ball into the box from the setpiece, Flood took away the ball. Then a second free kick followed just two minutes later from a similar spot to the left of the United box. The ball broke to Wedderburn and somehow United kept out his stinging left footed effort.
Dundee United`s first threat of the second half came in 56th minute when Scott Fraser won possession back after solid clearances from Morris ands Wedderburn but the ball escaped out beyond the far post. Then in 58 minutes Fraser got ion behind on the right and his cutback looked certain to be sunk into the Pars net by Mikkelsen but Morris took the ball away with some brave defending.
Dunfermline then almost got fruit from their counter and Willo Flood had to concede a free kick on the edge of the box to halt McMullan. Higginbotham`s attempt was driven into the United wall but very quickly McMullan found himself with another chance as he raced through with the ball at his feet. Despite Herron outside him to the right, the on loan Celt tried a shot but it was rising all the way and cleared the bar.
In 65 minutes a United free kick 30 yards out was lifted into the Pars box and there were appeals as Morris appeared to hold on to Durnan. The ball was cleared but at the next attack Wedderburn picked up a yellow as he halted Fraser. The free kick was headed away by Geggan and then hooked into touch by an overhead kick from Higginbotham.
The away team made a change at the half way point in the half, Simon Murray replacing the luckless Mikkelsen. Five minutes later Joe Cardle subbed Paul McMullan but it was United who got the chance to snatch the next goal. Andreu broke in on the right side and Murdoch pulled off a great block. The rebound broke back for the United player and remarkably he crashed his effort over the bar when finding the net looked the easier option. Quite a let off!
With ten minutes remaining David Hopkirk came on for Kallum Higginbotham and the Pars sub was immediately presented with a chance from a Cardle corner but his shot from 20 yards was blocked.
Then in 84 minute Fraser tumbled in a challenge with Herron and a 28 yard free kick gave Spittal the chance to drive a shot to the top left corner. The effort looked netbound all the way until Murdoch leapt to turn it remarkably around the post. The Dundee side continued to press and Murray fired a good attempt wide right.
A fine turn from Herron set up an equally good ball for Reilly to run on to on the right but Zwick stopped his shot. Then Hopkirk launched a shot to the right side of the goal but Zwick put in the save.
The visitors then had the opportunity to steal the show. Flood`s cross into the box was headed behind for a corner by Morris and when that came in Murray had a fresh air attempt and Fraser got another cross in but the Pars survived.
The home side had the final chance in the third minute of added time. Andreu was booked as Clark seemed as though he would get away from him on the right. Cardle delivered the setpiece towards Ashcroft at the far post but the offside flag went up and referee Andrew Dallas blew up for full time.
DUNFERMLINE: Sean Murdoch: Andy Geggan (c), Lee Ashcroft, Callum Morris, Jason Talbot: Paul McMullan (Joe Cardle 72), John Herron, Nat Wedderburn, Kallum Higginbotham (David Hopkirk 80): Nicky Clark, Michael Moffat (Gavin Reilly 76)
SUBS NOT USED: Rhys McCabe, Lewis Martin, Callum Fordyce, David Hutton (GK)
SCORERS: Herron (28)
YELLOW CARD: Wedderburn (65)
DUNDEE UNITED: Cammy Bell (Luis Zwick HT): Frank van der Struik, Mark Durnan, William Edjenquele, Paul Dixon: Lewis Toshney, Willo Flood: Blair Spittal, Anthony Andreu, Scott Fraser: Thomas Mikkelson ( Simon Murray 67).
SUBS NOT USED: Sean Dillon, Tope Obadeyi, Charlie Telfer, Jamie Robson.
SCORERS: Andreu (18)
YELLOW CARD: Edjenquele (6), Dixon (31), Durnan (50), Andreu (90+3)
REFEREE: Andrew Dallas
WEATHER: Rain 2C
NEXT MATCH: Ladbroke Championship: (away) v Falkirk, Saturday 4th February 2017, kick off 3.00pm at the Falkirk Stadium