Dunfermline Athletic

Dunfermline 1 Queen of the South 1

Saturday, 3rd Dec 2022

cinch League One: Pars unchanged. Ruari Paton (45) 0-1: Nikolay Todorov (67) 1-1:

The points were shared after substitute Nikolay Todorov headed home the equaliser following Ruari Paton’s opener for the visitors just before the break. Both sides had chances to win the match but after a lacklustre performance the Pars were relieved their unbeaten home record remained intact.

Fellow relegated side Queen of the South were the visitors to East End Park having made the long journey up from Dumfries.  Their fortunes so far this season had been mixed, with them starting the day in 7th place in cinch League One, but with more than half of the season left to play they would consider a promotion play-off position still to be within reach.  As well as player-manager Wullie Gibson the Doonhamers boasted several players with Pars’ connections – Harry Cochrane, Gavin Reilly and Ian Wilson (Stuart Morrison was in the stand) - but it would be fair to say none made as big an impression in their time in West Fife as their boss.  

The Queens manager named his son but not himself in the visiting starting line-up, making three changes from his cup team. League One manager of the month James McPake had the luxury of naming a starting eleven unchanged from the one that had dispatched Forfar from the cup the previous week, and was able to recall Robbie Mahon to the bench.  

Josh Todd won the toss and chose to attack the goal in front of the McCathie Stand,  The Pars again went with their 3-4-2-1 formation, not quite a “Christmas Tree” for their only home game of Advent, but close, and the visitors looked to match them with Stephen Hendrie and Lewis Gibson pushing up on the flanks with Paton, Reilly and Connelly inter-changing to provide the attacking threat.
The first chance fell to the Pars in four minutes when Chris Mochrie on the left touch-line fed Josh Edwards in the channel but Craig Wighton couldn’t keep his header down from the full-back’s cross.  Initially the home team enjoyed a lot of possession but all too often the move would break down when impatience led to an over-ambitious pass.

In nine minutes, with keeper Max Currie yelling at his defence to stop the cross, the Pars tried a delicate quick touch move in the box but ultimately it was easy for the defence to thwart Kane Ritchie-Hosler and shepherd the ball out for a goal kick.  

Meanwhile pressure from Reilly forced Deniz Mehmet to hurry his clearance but the visitors couldn’t capitalise.  They came closer in 13 minutes when Wilson drew a foul from Ritchie-Hosler but Gibson’s cross fell just beyond Connelly’s outstretched leg and closer still with Reilly getting his head to another Gibson cross, this time from open play but he couldn’t trouble Mehmet.

The visitors had now grown into the game and the flow of football was mostly towards Mehmet although he hadn’t been required to make a save with the Pars defending well and managing to play themselves out of trouble.

We saw better from Dunfermline on the half-hour mark when Kyle Benedictus strode out of defence and initiated an attack which culminated in a Comrie cross and a Mochrie header just wide under pressure.   Soon after Chalmers shaped to shoot but played in Wighton who held off his man only to be denied at the near post, Chalmers’ subsequent corner was easily collected by Currie.

The referee was beginning to incur the ire of the home fans, with little nudges and pushes being ignored, no more so than when Mochrie appeared to be fouled and grabbed the ball only to be the one penalised. The game appeared to be swinging back in Dunfermline’s favour s they won a series of corners but with Chalmers slipping it was ultimately the Pars goal which was more threatened as the visitors broke quickly.

Then, just as the match looked to finishing goal-less at the break the visitors took the lead, out of nowhere,  Wighton lost possession midway inside the Queens’ half, the ball was quickly played to Connelly and thence to an unmarked Ruari PATON 10 yards out and he was able to slip the ball under Mehmet.

Half Time:  Dunfermline Athletic 0 Queen of the South 1

There were no changes at the break but after Hendrie shot narrowly wide James McPake made his move, bringing on Nikolay Todorov for Sam Fisher with the Pars reverting to a more traditional 4-4-2.

However, it was the visitors who initially looked more like scoring – following a stramash with ball pinging around the six-yard box, Breen was forced to hit it the way he was facing and behind for a corner, after which Paul McKay should have done better than head the ball straight at Mehmet.

A Ritchie-Hosler long ball forced Currie out of his goal in the nick of time to clear from Wighton and then the keeper saved to his left side taking no chances from a Chalmers free-kick that may not have been on target.

Midway through the half, the keeper made a double save – Todd had spun his man and sent in a deep cross that fell for Todorov but Currie saved the first shot and then easily punched the follow up from an off-balance WIghton.  But the equaliser was not long delayed when a quickly taken shy allowed Comrie to cross from the right and TODOROV to score an easy header from close range.

Suddenly there was a game on our hands, with both sides upping the tempo and looking for a winner.  A Wilson shot was tipped over the bar and Todorov then found himself having to make a last ditch header in his own penalty area. At the other end Wighton seemed a little unsighted when McKay missed Comrie’s cross and will wish to have done better than miss the target with a header.

With five minutes to go, it looked as if the Pars might have over-committed to the attack when the Doonhamers got the break of the ball to launch a counter-attack with a man over, but Breen got back to block and then Cochrane had a shooting chance but his effort whizzed past the post.  Down to the other end we went and Macdonald who had just come on to replace Ritchie-Hosler just failed to get on the end of an Edwards long throw.
We were now into stoppage time, and both sides spurned a chance each to win the three points – first a poor clearance allowed Matt Todd to advance and he set up Todorov, but after taking the time to set himself, the forward shot agonisingly past the post, and then, with the match entering its final minute Queens crossed first from the left, and then from the right with Paton heading straight at Mehmet.

DUNFERMLINE: Deniz Mehmet: Sam Fisher (Nikolay Todorov 53), Kyle Benedictus (c), Rhys Breen: Aaron Comrie Joe Chalmers, Matthew Todd Josh Edwards: Kane Ritchie-Hosler (Kyle Macdonald 85) Craig Wighton, Chris Mochrie (Chris Hamilton 74)
SUBS NOT USED: Robbie Mahon, Sam Young, Andrew Tod, Taylor Sutherland, Liam Hoggan, Max Little (GK)
SCORERS: Todorov (67)
YELLOW CARD: Edwards (82)

QUEEN OF THE SOUTH: Max Currie: Ciaran McKenna, Paul McKay, David Mackay, Lewis Gibson (Connor Murray 74, Iain Wilson, Josh Todd(c), Stephen Hendrie, Lee Connelly (Harry Cochrane 65), Gavin Reilly, Ruari Paton.
SUBS NOT USED: Sam Henderson, Calvin McGrory, Kieran McKechnie, Michael Ruth, Ross Irving, Dom McMahon, Ewan Bange
SCORERS: Paton (45)
YELLOW CARD: McKenna (74), Cochrane (86), Currie (87)

REFEREE: Colin Steven

NEXT MATCH: SPFL Trust Trophy (away) v Arbroath, Friday 9th December 2022, 7.45pm kick off at Gayfield

50/50 Half Time draw: Winning ticket number – 25111 Prize Amount - £750

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