Dunfermline Athletic

Dunfermline 1 Hearts 1

Sunday, 9th Jul 2023

Pre-season friendly: new signing Michael O’Halloran goes straight into starting eleven. Luke Rathie (76) 0-1: Peter Haring (o.g. 86) 1-1:

Dunfermline’s fourth match of pre-season was at home to Heart of Midlothian. The visitors spent their week training in Spain and Steven Naismith fielded a strong starting eleven captained by Lawrence Shankland.

The Pars signed former St Johnstone forward Michael O’Halloran immediately prior to the teams being announced and also in the starting eleven were Joe Chalmers and Paul Allan. Chris Hamilton was absent and Ewan Otoo and Lewis McCann found themselves on the bench.

For kick off the sun was shining brightly on an unusually hot KDM Group East End Park. It was the visitors who kicked off into the sun and right from the kick off the Pars were put under pressure. Indeed it was a fierce shot by Cammy Devlin in just 70 seconds that floored Kyle Benedictus as he successfully kept out the effort from the edge of the box. Just two minutes later Shankland popped a shot from 25 yards that provided Deniz Mehmet with his first save of the game.

Then in just the eighth minute Paul Allan did really well to switch the attention from his own box to the other end of the ground. A sweeping pass from left back position was perfect for Matty Todd to run on to and he was then able to cut the ball inside for Craig Wighton to shoot on target. The move deserved a goal but Harry Stone dived to his right to push away the danger.

Devlin lined up Shankland for a blast in 11 minutes but he sent the ball wildly over the bar then next Stephen Kingsley made a chance, picking out Shankland on the right who returned the ball to him on the edge of the penalty area to send an attempt wide left. There was a let off in 17 minutes when a Mehmet pass out was stolen by Devlin and yet again Benedictus blocked Shankland to deny what looked like a very likely opener.

Kingsley then came very close to scoring at the other end. O’Halloran made ground before picking out Aaron Comrie on the right. His cross was met by the Hearts defender and he ricocheted it wide right for a corner. Unfortunately when that came over from Chalmers, Comrie’s volley launched the ball midway into the stand.

A reflection on the day was the water break on 25 minutes and when play resumed Connor Smith won a free kick on the left just 12 yards out. Jorge Grant smashed the ball in towards the six yard box but the home defence held firm and the danger was cleared.

Then just after the half hour mark, Todd got the better of Toby Sibbick and made a penetrating run right up to the Hearts box. His right footed shot beat the keeper but travelled just outside the left goalpost.

The travelling support were disappointed not to be awarded a 38th minute penalty when Sam Fisher tumbled Connor Smith on the left side of the penalty box but referee Graham Grainger played advantage but when it looked like the Edinburgh side had to score again the defence kept them out.

A 40th minute free kick was earned by O’Halloran and when Allan sent that into the Hearts box it was Atkinson who headed behind. Two corners followed but Clark was able to punch away the second and his goal remained intact. A 45th minute Hearts corner allows Grant a shot from 25 yards out but he sent the ball into the McCathie Stand and the Pars survived another Hearts corner in the second minute of time added on.

Despite all their possession Hearts were unable to find away through a very hard worked but resolute Dunfermline defence. The Pars had two very good opportunities but at the break it remained goalless.

Half time: Dunfermline 0 Hearts 0

For the start of the second half Dunfermline made three substitutions -Ewan Otoo, Paul McGowan and Lewis McCann- while Hearts made eight with only Stone, Denholm and Grant surviving from the first 45.

Hearts second half side did not take a grip of the match the way their first half XI had and Dunfermline enjoyed much more possession in their opponents half. McCann tested Stone with a stinging shot from 25 yards and McGowan and Otoo got themselves forward to control the ball in the Jambos box. The trialling support were growing frustrated by a cute ball by Peter Haring into the right side of the Pars box set up James Wilson but Mehmet came out and smothered the shot.

The water break on 65 minutes allowed Andrew Tod to replace Rhys Breen. Ewan Otoo dropped back to Breeny’s position and Tod pushed up. The seventeen year old made his presence felt immediately winning the ball on the left and supplying McCann. Then after Comrie had caused Hearts to concede a corner on the right, Tod drove a fine effort on target from the edge of the box that got blocked by a defender.

In 74 minutes Mehmet made a good save when Callum Sandilands fired in a low angled shot from the right but two minutes later he could not stop Luke RATHIE’s shot from the right that Benedictus on the goalline was unlucky not to keep out. 0-1.

Taylor Sutherland replaced Matty Todd for the final ten minutes but Hearts were more confident with the lead. Sending Mehmet to full stretch, Boyce shot wide right and Haring willed on by his supporters shot wide left.

The home fans rose as McCann travelled up the left and his cut back from the byeline was turned into his own net by Peter HARING under pressure from Sutherland. 1-1

After that a similar run up the left by McCann caused Rathie to concede a corner and when Chalmers delivered the ball fell for Benedictus on the far side of the box but his on-target drive was blocked and the third pre-season match finished all square at one each.

DUNFERMLINE: Deniz Mehmet: Sam Fisher, Kyle Benedictus (c), Rhys Breen (Andrew Tod 66): Aaron Comrie, Joe Chalmers, Matthew Todd (Taylor Sutherland 81), Paul Allan (Ewan Otoo HT), Josh Edwards: Craig Wighton (Lewis McCann HT), Michael O’Halloran (Paul McGowan (Trialist) HT)
SUBS NOT USED: Miller Fenton, Sam Young, Liam Hoggan, Max Little (GK)
SCORERS: Haring (og 86)

HEARTS: Harry Stone: Nathaniel Atkinson (Luke Rathie HT), Alex Cochrane (Lewis Neilson HT), Toby Sibbick (Kyle Rowles HT), Stephen Kingsley (Andy Halliday HT): Aidan Denholm (Beni Baningime 69) Yutaro Oda (Callum Sandilands HT), Cameron Devlin (Peter Haring HT), Jorge Grant (Liam Boyce 69), Lawrence Shankland (c) (Alan Forrest HT), Connor Smith (James Wilson HT)
SCORERS: Rathie (76)

REFEREE: Graham Grainger
WEATHER: Sunny 21°C

NEXT MATCH: Pre-season friendly (away) v Alloa Athletic, Tuesday 11th July 2023, kick off 7.30pm at the Indodrill Stadium

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