Dunfermline Athletic

Dunfermline 2 Airdrieonians 1

Saturday, 5th Aug 2023

cinch Championship: Harrison Sharp makes Pars debut. Craig Watson (22) 0-1: Ewan Otoo (30) 1-1: Paul Allan (65) 2-1:

The two sides promoted from League One met in the first match of their return to the cinch Champioship. Rhys McCabe’s Airdrieonians side finished 21 points behind the Pars last season but arrived on the back of four wins in their Viaplay Cup group games. Dunfermline were hoping for a win and to resume where they left off the previous season with an undefeated home record.

James McPake was missing Deniz Mehmet who sustained an ankle injury in training so Harrison Sharp came in on loan from Dundee. In a change from the team that faced Albion Rovers, Joe Chalmers and Kyle Benedictus started in place of Paul Allan and Chris Hamilton.

Airdrieonians also brought in a new keeper - Josh Clarke from Celtic - on emergency loan in the absence of Josh Rae. Lewis McGregor and Adam Frizzell started while Nikolay Todorov was out injured and Murray Aitken was on the bench.

Before kick off the League One champions flag was unfurled on a podium on the half way line and it was the home side who kicked off attacking the goal at the east end of the ground. Early play was towards the Airdrie goal and Clarke was made to block a good third minute effort from Ewan Otoo.

Three minutes later an Otoo challenge on Calum Gallagher earned the Diamonds a free kick deep inside the Dunfermline half and from that Frizzell got it their first shot but thankfully that whizzed by wide right.

Dunfermline were quickly back on the offensive with Andrew Tod’s ball in from the right picking out Lewis McCann and his shot was touched on by Josh Edwards but the keeper parried the effort away. Otoo and Edwards then exchanged passes on the top of the D and Tod got in the shot that was blocked. McCann then headed an attempt from the edge of the box that the keeper held and Chalmers popped a shot narrowly wide.

Rhys Breen collected a yellow card for a push on O’Connor as he raced up the right and from the free kick Charlie Telfer was picked out on the 18 yard line. His shot was packed with power but Sharp pulled off a really good stop and from eight yards out O’Connor blasted his follow up off target.

Dunfermline had dominated the first 20 minutes but it took a last ditch block by Benedictus to deny the visitors an opener. Airdrie were able to take the lead in 22 minutes. Gallagher set up Telfer for a thunderous shot that rattled the crossbar but Craig WATSON swiftly stepped in to head into the Pars net. 0-1

Airdrie’s lead lasted only eight minutes with Edwards providing an excellent cross for OTOO to head home from six yards out. 1-1

A McCann break up the left soon created a chance for Edwards but his 20 yard shot cleared the crossbar. Back on level terms Dunfermline again looked more comfortable and the Diamonds created their own problems trying to play the ball out from the back.

Right on half time referee Grant Irvine awarded a free kick 19 yards out on the left when Benedictus tackled Gallagher. McCabe’s on target effort was blocked by the four man Pars wall and in added time Tod collected a yellow card. An Edwards shot earned a late corner on the left but that ended with an Otoo shot that went wide.

It had been a first half where Airdrie had edged the possession but Dunfermline executed nine shots to opponents seven.

Half Time: Dunfermline 1 Airdrieonians 1

The second half started with Dunfermline fired up and Tod rifled a shot narrowly over the crossbar. Keeper Clarke went down as he saved at the feet of Tod and required the physio’s attention. Paul Allan replaced Andrew Tod ten minutes into the half probably because he was on a yellow card.

Edwards made a speedy run up the left but his shot went just outside the right post. There was confusion as the linesman flagged for offside but the referee awarded a free kick. Next Aaron Taylor-Sinclair tugged Wighton as he broke through the opposition defence but the officials saw nothing wrong.

Dunfermline threatened again with Wighton in possession in the Diamonds box but opting to try and find Allan rather than shooting. Then on 65 minutes a neat ball from Allan on the left to put Edwards in possession on the left byeline led to the second Dunfermline goal. Watson booted away the ball but ALLAN crashed the ball high into the Diamonds net to make it 2-1. A first senior goal for Dunfermline for the 23 year old who has not had the best of experiences over recent seasons through injury.

The Lanarkshire side did everything but score in 74th minute. Telfer’s initial shot was blocked then on the edge of the six yard box both Gallagher and McGregor had their efforts blocked by the defence leaving both Benedictus and Fisher on the deck as the ball slipped wide right.

The opposition had upped their pressure and in 77 minutes a second yellow card for Breen reduced Dunfermline to ten men. Craig Wighton was withdrawn as Chris Hamilton came on with Eean Otoo dropping back into defence. Immediately Airdrie had another attempt, this time McGregor’s shot kept out by a Fisher header.

As had happened last season against Airdrie, the Fifers had to do some dogged defending with Fisher, Benedictus and Man of the Match Otoo all playing major roles.

DUNFERMLINE: Harrison Sharp: Sam Fisher, Kyle Benedictus, Rhys Breen: Aaron Comrie, Ewan Otoo, Joe Chalmers, Josh Edwards: Andrew Tod (Paul Allan 55), Craig Wighton (Chris Hamilton 78), Lewis McCann.
SUBS NOT USED: Miller Fenton, Taylor Sutherland, Liam Hoggan, Max Little (GK)
SCORERS: Otoo (30), Allan (65)
YELLOW CARD: Breen (14), Tod (45+2)
RED CARD: Breen (77)

AIRDRIEONIANS: Josh Clarke: Craig Watson, Cammy Ballantyne, Callum Fordyce, Aaron Taylor-Sinclair, Rhys McCabe (Dean McMaster 64): Adam Frizzell (c), Charlie Telfer (Murray Aitken 74), Josh O’Connor, Calum Gallagher, Lewis McGregor.
SUBS NOT USED: Justin Devenny, Mason Hancock, Elliot Dunlop, Alasdair Spalding, Corrie Fellows, Kyan Gunn, David Hutton (GK).
SCORERS: Watson (22)
YELLOW CARD: Frizzell (90)

REFEREE: Grant Irvine
WEATHER: Damp 14°C

NEXT MATCH: cinch Championship (away) v Dundee United, Saturday 12th August 2023, kick off 3.00pm at Tannadice Park

50/50 Half time draw prize draw winning ticket number 49487 won £550

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