Red Mist Descends Upon DunfermlineDate: Wednesday, 26th Apr 2023
After winning the SPFL cinch League One title the previous weekend at home to Queen of the South, the Pars travelled to Airdrieonians to face the Diamonds on Match-Day 34.
Dunfermline were determined to keep their unbeaten run going and hoped to break the Club`s overall clean-sheet record for one season, too, so James McPake`s men still had plenty to play for.
This was shown by the team selected by the management. The shackles seemed to be off as free-flowing football was being played at the Excelsior Stadium, however, no real goal-scoring chances were created. In fact, the closest either side came to an opener in the early stages was through a mistake of the hosts own doing...
The ball was laid back to goalie Josh Rae but he dilly-dallied to long on the ball and was caught in possession by Lewis McCann; the keeper`s clearance hitting the forward before bouncing back down off of the bar. Luckily for Airdrieonians, the ball squirmed back into the grateful grasp of Rae despite the attention of McCann, looking to prod home the rebound.
Deniz Mehmet was called into action shortly after to deny Callum Smith while the hosts also fizzed a shot wide from the second phase of a corner. But the competitive nature of the contest lacked quality, epitomised by the opportunity for Chris Mochrie prior to half-time. The ball was cut-back from the right through Kane Ritchie-Hosler, the low ball to the edge of the box was perfect for the on-loan Dundee United midfielder, but his left-footed effort lacked finesse and precision as it went straight down the throat of Rae.
Highlights: Airdrieonians 1-1 Dunfermline Athletic
The second-half began on a positive note for Dunfermline, with Athletic taking the lead through top goal-scorer Craig Wighton thirteen minutes into the final period. Joe Chalmers played the ball over the top of the Diamonds defence; Wighton spun his marker before coolly slotting the ball above Rae and into the back of the net for the West Fifers. However, this is when proceedings started to turn sour for the visitors...
Within 5 minutes, Calum Gallagher had equalised for the hosts: Rhys McCabe`s men won a corner on their right, which Adam Frizzell delivered into a dangerous area – the predatory Gallagher was in the right spot at the right time to knock the ball home at the far post and kill any momentum gained by the visitors just moments prior.
And it would then be the home side who gained an even bigger swing in their favour, as just seconds later following the restart, Black & White Captain Kyle Benedictus saw red for a last man challenge on Smith 20-yards from goal. It is the first sending off this season for the Football Club (which in itself is an almighty achievement and testimony to the disciplinary levels within the playing squad) but it wouldn`t stop there!!
Aaron Comrie discusses playing in a 9-man Dunfermline side for a large portion of the second-half on Saturday
Substitute Kevin O`Hara was now playing the lone furrow up-front, with Wighton being sacrificed for Chris Hamilton, with the Vice-Captain coming on in Benedictus` position. But, O`Hara`s day wasn`t to go to plan as he was also dismissed by referee Greg Aitken, for a challenge in-front of the Dunfermline dugout, which enraged the coaching staff – with Dave Mackay also being sent to the stands. O`Hara clashed with Craig Watson as both challenged for a bouncing ball and it was the Pars man who was deemed to have stepped over the mark and was shown the red card for his supposed red mist.
This left Athletic with just 9 men, for the remaining 20 minutes of the match. But Airdrieonians didn`t manage to break down a packed penalty-area and McPake`s men would manage to gain another point from another hard-fought encounter against McCabe`s side. However, it wasn`t `Trophy Day` this weekend – against Clyde – that the manager was thinking about immediately after the match: McPake felt the communication from the match referee was poor and unhelpful and this left the Pars gaffer baffled by at least one of the sending offs within the match.
James McPake spoke to ParsTV following the match