Dunfermline Athletic

Dundee United 0 Dunfermline 0

Saturday, 27th Jan 2024

cinch Championship: Fagan-Walcott starts for his debut.

Dunfermline returned to Tannadice for the third time this season to take on the league leaders and still odds on favourites.

Both sides were without games the previous week and the Fifers had not actually played for just over three weeks. New signing Malachi Fagan-Walcott made his Dunfermline Athletic debut while the break had allowed both sides to get players back from injury and suspension in United’s case. Dunfermline still had seven out but Ewan Otoo, Sam Fisher and Lewis McCann returned for the visitors with Paul Allan and Craig Wighton moving on to the bench.

Jim Goodwin’s Dundee United starting eleven included their new signing David Wotherspoon. Captain Ross Docherty was back and Craig Sibbald started. Their top goalscorer Louis Moult was on the bench. The teams changed ends before the hosts kicked off defending the goal in front of the 678 strong travelling support.

United forced a second minute corner on the right but Otoo cleared Wotherspoon’s centre. First hope for the Pars came two minutes later when Ben Summers sent McCann up the left. The striker looked big and strong as he travelled in on goal but his on target shot was blocked and ricocheted back off him.

The home side had another couple of corners to defend before Sibbald got in an 11th minute shot that Deniz Mehmet held. Summers made a run into the United penalty box but his final pass was intercepted and play swiftly flowed back to the other end. Kai Fotheringham fed Tony Watt deep down the right and his provider failed to get on the end of the low cross in. There was a scramble but the ball ended up safely in Mehmet’s possession.

At the midpoint of the first half another United corner from the right was headed over the crossbar by Ross Graham. Following an Edwards run and a Moffat lay off, Chris Hamilton got in a 26th minute shot that unfortunately got blocked. There was further hope when Michael O’Halloran made ground and centred a dangerous ball from the right that Jack Walton grabbed.

A speculative Sibbald shot went out wide right and a Summers effort was then held by Walton although the shot was going wide. In 37 minutes Kevin Holt made his way up the centre of the park and his shot was blocked and looped over the crossbar. Edwards cleared from Middleton’s corner. Liam Grimshaw’s left footed shot from the right side was headed behind by Fisher and it was him who met the next corner delivered from the left.

O’Halloran tracked back to deny the spearheading Middleton before in added time Summers pumped the ball forward, Graham failed to cut it out and McCann looked like he might get in for a shot but Graham recovered to concede the Pars first corner of the match. That was cleared but there would be one final cracking effort before the half came to its end. From a throw in on the left, Fisher was able to crash a strike on target but United shut that out on the line.

It was a promising end to a half that Dundee United had dominated with eight corners to the Pars one. The visitors could be satisfied by restricting United to just one on target effort, a stat their opponents matched.

Half time: Dundee United 0 Dunfermline 0

The second half continued with the same tentative play from both sides and the first good chance came in its tenth minute when Middleton’s return into the six yard box required serious intervention by Otoo to deny Watt.

The pressure of two United corners ended when Graham headed over the Pars crossbar. Then on the hour two substitutions from both sides - Paul Allan and Craig Wighton came on for Owen Moffat and Lewis McCann. Louis Moult and Alex Greive replaced Tony Watt and Kai Fotheringham. Wighton almost made an immediate impact directing an O‘Halloran cut back on to the near post.

In 71 minutes the offside flag was raised as sunny Greive blasted his shot wildly over the bar. Holt got in another shot as Dunfermline sustained further pressure. O’Halloran eased that by winning a 75th minute corner and Chalmers targeted Fagan-Walcott but Walton held from the cross.

When Summers earned a 77th minute free kick on half way, Fisher picked out Edwards deep down the left. Josh’s cross created fear in front of goal and Walton got the ball away but Hamilton followed up with a shot that was blocked. Two minutes later Glenn Middleton was subbed to allow the introduction of Mathew Cudjoe. Within two minutes Cudjoe lined himself up for a shot from 20 yards out but that was deflected behind for a corner that United dispatched over the bar.

As the clock ran down the Fifers defence had to withstand an uncomfortable amount of United’s effort. It was the travelling support who led the singing as their side even managed a break that Summers hit over Walton’s bar.

That was Summers involvement as Taylor Sutherland replaced him in 89th minute. Deniz Mehmet kept out a great effort from sub Archie Meekison in the second minute of time added on and the goal escaped when McMann’s rocket from 25 yards. The offside flag was raised as Moult turned the ball back across goal and the ball stayed out at the right post.

The Pars deserved their point and United increased their lead at the top of the Championship as a consequence of Inverness’ 3-2 at Stark’s Park.

DUNDEE UNITED: Jack Walton; Liam Grimshaw, Kevin Holt, Ross Graham, Scott McMann; Craig Sibbald, Ross Docherty (c) (Jordan Tilson 68): Kai Fotheringham (Louis Moult 60), Tony Watt (Alex Greive 60), Glenn Middleton (Mathew Cudjoe 79), David Wotherspoon (Archie Meekison 68)
SUBS NOT USED: Chris Mochrie, Kieran Freeman, Greg Petrie, Jack Newman (GK)

DUNFERMLINE: Deniz Mehmet: Malachi Fagan-Walcott, Sam Fisher, Ewan Otoo: Michael O’Halloran, Chris Hamilton (c), Joe Chalmers, Josh Edwards: Ben Summers (Taylor Sutherland 89), Owen Moffat (Paul Allan 60): Lewis McCann (Craig Wighton 60).
SUBS NOT USED: Miller Fenton, Jake Sutherland, Sam Young, Max Little (GK)

REFEREE: Graham Grainger
WEATHER: Cloudy 9°C

NEXT MATCH: cinch Championship (home) v Morton, Saturday 3rd February 2024, kick off 3.00pm at KDM East End Park

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