Dunfermline Athletic

Kilmarnock 3 -2 Dunfermline Athletic

Author: Alistair Campbell Date: Sunday, 11th Sep 2011

Another entertaining game but again the Pars came away empty handed despite Jason Thomson giving them the lead. A third penalty of the season was conceded and this time converted by Heffernan, who also scored to give Killie the lead just on half-time. Substitute Ryan Thomson also scored his first goal to level but Killie soon restored their lead through Kroca and this time held on to it.

With Scotland scraping a win in the oval ball game at Rugby Park, Invercargill, it was time for the Pars to get back into SPL action with a trip to Kilmarnock. It had been a number of years since the Pars had visited, rather than bypass the town on the way to Somerset Park, and even longer since their last victory. My hazy recollections of Boxing Day 1992 was that Neale Cooper got himself sent off, with referee Andrew Waddell lining up several more Pars players to book them for dissent over the decision, before goals from Craig Robertson and a double from Lord Hamish French (one from nearly the half-way line after Bobby Geddes had been caught out of his goal.) gave the Pars a one goal win. Maybe the memory has exaggerated the story over the years; in any case a victory was long overdue.

The international break had given the Pars players plenty of time to develop new injuries, with Hardie, Rutkiewicz and McDougall all rejoining Phinn and long term casualty Bell on the injury list. New signing Craig Easton was available to start in the middle of the park as the Pars went with 5 in midfield- Mason and Burns central and Graham and Cardle wide. Kirk would have to work hard on his own up front, Keddie and Dowie kept their places at centre-back, as did Thomson and McCann at full-back, and of course, the SPL player of the month was between the sticks.

Killie adopted a similar formation – with Heffernan at the apex of the attack and Dayton and manager’s son Dean Shiels providing width, Gary Harkins would be familiar to the travelling fans in his usual role in midfield and sometime Scotland squad member Cammie Bell would be trying to keep a clean sheet.

The Pars kicked off in their yellow and blue change strip defending the goal in front of the Chadwick Stand housing their fans, but both sides struggled with the blustery conditions initially with possession being lost cheaply on several occasions; however this made for some end-to-end football.

Keddie and McCann had an early scare, each leaving the ball for the other, but the offside flag prevented embarrassment, and the Pars had another let off in 4 minutes when Dowie was outpaced by Heffernan, but having chosen to pass to Fowler the Irishman somehow failed to get a touch on the return slap bang in front of goal. Meanwhile Cardle had failed to take advantage of a weak clearance by Pursehouse. his left-foot effort being blocked, before Burns came closer than anyone to date, picking up Cardle’s chest-down to drill a left foot shot off the base of Bell’s left-hand post.

Play raged back to the other end with Keddie’s merest touch on a through ball being enough to divert it away from Heffernan who was clear and Shiels nearly latched onto a poor Keddie header but was tackled in the act of shooting, leading to the first of several appeals for a penalty.

However, the Pars took the lead a little against the run of play. A seemingly harmless punted cross from Thomson led to a corner on the left. Cardle took it, swung it to the back post where Kirk’s header crashed off the bar and after a brief stramash, the ball was forced home Thomson. 1-0 Pars.

Three minutes later the Pars nearly doubled their lead, Bell doing well to save Kirk’s header from a Thomson cross low at his left hand post. Things seemed to be going well for the Pars so it was a surprise when Macca was sent to the stand after the fourth official Ian Brines had brought referee Winter’s attention to some misdemeanour. Fortunately Jim is familiar with the geography of the Frank Beattie Stand from his days at Rugby Park and soon found his way to the directors’ box. Perhaps he had a premonition of what was to ensue as just after the half-hour Killie were awarded a penalty. Dayton had used his tricks to squeeze along the byeline and when Dowie had only half-cleared the winger’s centre, he fell over Keddie’s leg. Gallacher had already saved two penalties this season, and he guessed left again - Heffernan was too smart and he rolled it the other way for the equaliser.

The Killie wide players were causing problems – Dayton looked very dangerous every time he got the ball, and with McCann looking troubled Cardle was usually quick to provide his beleaguered skipper with support. On the other wing Sheils managed to get past Dowie in 34 minutes but Gallacher did well to clutch the cross under unwarranted pressure from Kelly. Gall wasn’t happy with the challenge and protected himself a little too obviously with a raised leg when gathering just ahead of the same player moments later, a fact that didn’t escape the eagle-eyed Mr Winter who had a quiet word. The Pars wide players were also looking the sharpest at the other end, and when Cardle drifted over to the opposite wing Graham set him up to test Bell with another left foot shot.

It looked as though it would be even-stevens at the break, but with seconds to go Shiels ran at the defence unchallenged, Keddie got himself the wrong side of Heffernan and when the ball was played in the Dubliner had an easy task to tuck the ball home from 12 yards.

Half time: Killie 2 Pars 1

Jimmy Mac made two switches during the interval. Keddie gave way to Potter (with Dowie moving to left centre-back) but whether this was due to injury, an urgent appointment at the Maternity Hospital, or a plain old fashioned hooking wasn’t clear. Less surprising was the introduction of Ryan Thomson for Craig Easton who had struggled in the first period. Ryan didn’t take a long time to make an impact as within 4 minutes of the restart Cardle made progress down the left, and crossed to the back post where Thomson (R) timed his run and jump to perfection to nod home. 2-2.

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