Raith Rovers 1 - 2 Dunfermline AthleticAuthor: Alistair Campbell Date: Saturday, 7th Nov 2009
Was it an own-goal or was it David Graham’s? Either way, the Pars get a deserved 3 points after coming from behind at Stark’s Park. Bayne equalises Mark Campbell’s first half strike, before the 90th minute excitement transports the large travelling support to delirium.
Does it get any better than this? Short of winning a cup or promotion it’s hard to top winning in the last minute, against your oldest rivals, away from home - West Fife will be a happy place tonight.
There was no sign of the Prime Minister, who was down the road at St Andrews; and no sign of the Joe Cardle either - victim of a broken finger - so Bayne came back into the line up as the Pars stuck with their 4-4-2 formation. The side is beginning to have a pretty settled look to it - Fleming kept the gloves, Ross, McGregor, Dowie and Woods were the back four, Burke and Bell the engine room, Gibson wide right, Graham wide left and Kirk and Bayne the forward line. Injury hit Rovers went with the same formation, with ex-Par Craig Wilson at right back and Stephen Simmons rushed back onto the bench.
The Pars chose to defend the end in front of their own fans in the first half, and after a minute’s silence for Remembrance Day, they were soon into their stride. In contrast Rovers started poorly, Wallace passing straight to Graham in the second minute, whose shot was deflected off target, and two minutes later left back Ellis stumbled allowing Bayne to prod the ball towards, but slightly behind, Kirk, who shot over.
Next to have a go was Ross, from all of 35 yards before the same player conceded the Pars’ first foul, near the half way line. Tadé moved off his marker allowing Russell space to collect but a timely McGregor tackle sorted things out.
Back came the Pars, with Woods setting up Graham who eventually got a shot away, and even Woods’ requirement for lengthy treatment following a firm tackle from Campbell (Bell dropping to central defence briefly as Dowie covered for Calum) didn’t stem the tide. Play switched to the right where Gibson’s extravagant backheel created room for a Ross cross which was easily dealt with, and again McGregor tidied up after Burke’s tackle had fallen for Russell.
The Pars had dominated the first quarter, Gibson beating 2 players on the right before shooting straight at McGurn in 16 minutes, who was similarly untroubled by Kirk’s 25 yarder 3 minutes later, but there was the nagging doubt that they hadn’t made the pressure count. Sure enough, Rovers took the lead midway through the half. Fleming had made a splendid save at the near post when Russell was quickest to Wallace’s centre, and the resultant corner was only half cleared. When the ball came back in Fleming, started to come, stopped, then was stranded as Campbell’s header from 12 yards beat him all ends up. 1-0 Rovers.
This felt a bit like a mugging, although Fleming kept his concentration to claim the ball at Russell’s feet on the half hour, and the Pars took a few minutes to regroup. However, they were soon back on the attack. Dowie was linking well with Woods and in 36 minutes the left back sent in a virtually perfect cross but Kirk headed just over. Two minutes later and Bayne had an even better chance from Graham’s delicate chip, but McGurn made a fine save low to his right.
More pressure followed, interrupted by Ross’s appalling effort for a shot, which went perpendicular to its intended direction, and Graham won a fourth corner as the match moved into first half stoppage time. Rovers came away with the ball, and after Ross made a mess of his interception, he rather lunged in at Russell to get the game’s first booking. There was still time for another chance - Gibson played a perfectly weighted pass into the channel for Bell, who surprisingly turned away from goal, fed the ball to Ross who picked out the unmarked Bayne beyond the far post. However the target man’s diving header drifted across goal and beyond the far post.
Half time: Rovers 1 Pars 0.
There were no changes in personnel at the break, but the tricky Wallace swapped wings with Sloan, possibly as the carded Ross had been identified as a weak link. However, the early action was at the other end, in front of the travelling support. After Woods was obstructed Gibson’s free-kick grazed Bayne’s forehead without result, and in 50 minutes the Pars could, and perhaps should have scored. Another Dowie pass inside the full back set Woods clear and his cross from the bye-line was met by Bell at the back post. McGurn made a point blank save, and Campbell hoofed the loose ball off the line.
But the equaliser wasn’t long delayed (but not until McGregor had made another well timed tackle on Russell). Ross had cut inside, and with the option of shooting, sensibly chose to feed Graham in the box, and his shot was deflected behind. Gibson’s corner wasn’t fully cleared, and Willie got a second chance to cross. Effort number 2 was perfect - as was Bayne’s header from 6 yards - fairly bulleting into the rigging. Bayne followed the ball into the net which briefly resembled a mosh-pit as the Pars players celebrated. McGurn tried to get involved and was yellowed. Anyway - one apiece.