Dunfermline Athletic

Dunfermline Athletic 3-1 Partick Thistle

Author: Alistair Campbell Date: Saturday, 14th Nov 2009

Often, after another defeat, you hear the excuse “we’ll play worse and win”. Today demonstrated the truth of that maxim – not that the performance was bad, but we were distinctly second best at times. However, we got off to a good start with an early McDougall strike, rode our luck, and, more importantly, took some of our chances. In the end we were worth the win, and over a decent side as well. And Willie Gibson’s first goal was an absolute peach.

Andy Kirk was away on international duty so there was a surprise start for Steven McDougall and Austin McCann came in for the injured Calum Woods. Otherwise there were no changes from the side that started at Kirkcaldy – Fleming in goals, Ross, McGregor, Dowie and McCann along the back, a midfield 4 of Gibson, Burke, Bell and Graham, and Bayne and McDougall the striking partnership. Chris Higgins and Paul Willis joined Phinn, Holmes and Paterson and the management team in the dugout. There was no sign of Cardle, nor of Glass.
Partick had also lost a player to the Northern Irish squad and so had Craig Hinchcliffe between the sticks in place of Jonny Tuffey, with a similar 4-4-2 formation in front of him.

After 45 seconds’ silence in tribute to the passing of Pars legend Hugh Whyte , captain Alex Burke kicked off attacking the Cowden end, but Gibson put the ball straight into the North East stand where the visiting support was housed. Perhaps the early afternoon rain had made the pitch a little sticky, but the early stages were marked by several errors – McDougall falling over his own feet in the first minute, Dowie failing to clear his lines 2 minutes later, then Buchanan running the ball out after Fleming had hesitated.

In the 5th minute another defensive error led to the Pars taking the lead. Robertson’s back-pass went straight past his stand-in keeper to concede a corner which Gibson drove in from the right. The Thistle defence didn’t deal with it, and McDougall prodded the loose ball home. 1-0 Pars
Two minutes later and McDougall had the ball in the net again to complete a fine Bell pass but the whistle had already gone for offside. Thistle had woken up by this time and Bell had to come to the Pars’ rescue twice in as many minutes with crucial blocks as Archibald got forward down the left.
It wasn’t clear whether McDougall’s pace was causing the Jags rearguard more problems than their own inability to clear the ball properly, Bayne nearly capitalising on a shocker of a clearance from Maxwell but shooting straight at the keeper, and Gibson had the crowd on their feet in 15 minutes, cutting inside, stumbling, but fired over the bar.

A promising start for the Pars, and a goal to the good, so when a fine passage of play, with the ball being moved from one side of the pitch to the other, culminated with Graham mis-kicking ,there was an air of confidence in the stadium.
However, Thistle fought their way back into the game; Corcoran skipped past Ross and Dowie had to head clear from virtually under his own cross-bar, then McGregor was forced to take one for the team, body-checking Buchanan after Burke’s attempted lobbed back pass from 35 yards was intercepted. Adams’ name also went into the book after a late challenge on Gibson, but the Pars weren’t making things easy for themselves either, being down to 9 men at one point with Bell taking a couple of minutes to change his boots as Bayne received treatment.

McDougal celebrates his goal

Then, having been distinctly second best for a period, the Pars doubled their advantage with a piece of individual brilliance in 40 minutes. McGregor’s headed clearance seemed aimless, but Gibson was onto it quick as a flash, chesting the ball up at the edge of the box with his first touch then hitting a dipping volley with his second. Hinchcliffe got a hand to it, but couldn’t keep it out. 2-0 Pars, and the Pars kept the lead intact to the interval, despite Corcoran again besting Ross only to see his cross flash across the face of goal, and Buchanan’s 45th minute header drifting past the upright with Fleming going the wrong way.

Half Time: Pars 2 Jags 0

So what to do with that rare luxury: a two –goal half time lead? Keep it tight for 15 minutes? Go for a quick-fire third? Or give away a silly goal almost immediately to make things “interesting”? Well, after a brief flirtation with the second option, Bayne charging down Hinchcliffe’s clearance only to see the keeper grab the ricochet (and find himself mysteriously penalised), and then getting a glancing header on McDougall’s cross (saved low to his right by the keeper) the Pars chose the third way. Burke, with the time to clear, chose to pass to no-one in particular and Cairney buried the ball in the far corner from 15 yards. 2-1.

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