3 Goals & 3 Points For The ParsDate: Thursday, 30th Nov 2023
Tuesday evening saw Dunfermline Athletic complete their catch-up matches within the SPFL cinch Championship, as they hosted Arbroath at KDM Group East End Park.
The Red Lichties had sacked their manager, Dick Campbell, just days prior following their 2-1 defeat to Spartans in the Scottish Gas Men`s Scottish Cup Third Round.
However, the Pars were also coming off the back of a sore defeat in the same Cup competition, so an intriguing encounter awaited.
It was a cagey first-half by both Clubs, as you`d expect from two sides who knew the game was vitlly important to their league campaigns. Arbroath have slipped downwards in recent weeks while Athletic have dropped out of the Top 4. A win this midweek would see them regain their place within the Promotion Play-Off places and that was the expectation of the supporters as they travelled to West Fife, on a bitterly cold evening.
Derek Gaston was forced into a couple of routine stops, while Deniz Mehmet was called into action once during the opening 45 minutes, but there was a feeling that things needed to be improved upon in the final half of the contest, to keep the supporters warm within the stadium. And that didn`t take long, just 3 minutes after the restart to be exact: a plethora of chances fell the way of the hosts before Josh Edwards found the back of the net with a first-time left-footed shot which flew past Gaston to give James McPake`s men the lead.
Highlights: Dunfermline Athletic 3-0 Arbroath
However, the joy was short-lived, but not due to the conceding of a goal or the dismissal of a player; Kane Ritchie-Hosler has only just returned to the first-team fold following injury hell at the start of the term, which has saw him missing months and months of the season to date.
The winger landed awkwardly as he battled for the ball and was in clear pain and distress. The Englishman has dislocated his shoulder and we can all only hope his recovery time is as speedy as the former Rangers B player himself, with the #7 set for another spell on the sidelines.
To add insult to injury, Owen Moffat moments later was taken off – albeit it looked more so in a precautionary sense – due to a hamstring complaint, before Sam Fisher hobbled off the field due to an ankle injury!!
When it rains, it pours, it seems for Dunfermline right now when it comes to injuries. Fisher and KRH as a minimum will be added to the list of Ben Summers, Andy Tod, Kyle Benedictus and Rhys Breen who are all currently on the treatment table.
But, in saying all that, the positives continued: the impact of the substitutes would please the management team... Aaron Comrie slotted in at wing-back and then centre-back with ease and showed why he is known as `Mr Consistent`, while Michael O`Halloran, Alex Jakubiak and Craig Wighton all added a fresh impetus up front. And it was DAFC`s #9 that doubled their advantage with just over 15 minutes of play remaining. The striker was clinical inside the box, to tap home his effort following Gaston`s spill within his 6-yard box following a corner-kick. The game never looked within the visitors grasp if we are being honest, but interim manager Stuart Malcolm went damage limitation, bringing on experienced centre-back Ricky Little to try keep the score-line as it was.
Craig Wighton chats to ParsTV following his 2-goal substitute appearance on Tuesday evening
While the stemming of the tide did occur for around 15 minutes, despite Dunfermline`s best efforts to add to their tally, they would eventually put the cherry on top of the cake when Wighton grabbed his second of the match bang on 90 minutes, as he followed in on Lewis McCann`s parried effort by Gaston which fell kindly to the striker after he chased the loose ball down and got in front of the defender to find the back of the net. A satisfying win and confidence boosting offensive play by McPake`s side meant a very good Tuesday evening`s workout.
What was even more pleasing was the clean-sheet for Mehmet and the defence in front of hi,. Another morale boost for those players, meaning the whole squad would leave the filed of play in a buoyant mood. The real dampener for Athletic was the injuries sustained to Ritchie-Hosler and Fisher in particular. However, it must be added, the referee (Ross Hardie) called the game slightly early, despite being 15 minutes into injury-time, due to a serious and nasty looking injury sustained by Michael McKenna of Arbroath and we all wish him a speedy recovery too in his rehabilitation process.
But, it was job done; back up to fourth and now looking to end this mini run of consecutive home matches with 3 points this weekend against Queen`s Park. The Spiders will be hoping to show their last trip to KDM Group East End Park – in which Simon Murray`s late goal put the Pars down to League One – wasn`t a fluke and they are capable of producing positive results on the road and in West Fife.
But Robin Veldman`s side have already lost 2-0 to Athletic already this campaign and with the recent departure of Sporting Director Marijn Beuker to Ajax, the Lesser Hmapden side could be in a period of transition once again, which Dunfermline Athletic will hope to take advantage of come 3pm on Saturday afternoon.
James McPake following the 3-0 win over Arbroath