SFL v Cowdenbeath


Fixture: Irn Bru SFL Division

Attendance: 2942, Kick Off: 7.30pm.

Referee: Bobby Madden

Dunfermline opened up a four point gap over Raith Rovers (and Dundee with points to be deducted appeal pending) at the top of the First Division with an emphatic victory over their local rivals.  Raith only managed a 0-0 draw at Falkirk and this result also puts the Pars ten points ahead of the Bairns as 2011 begins.

The derby against Cowdenbeath, switched from Central Park by mutual consent proved a welcome interruption to the Christmas festivities. Dunfermline made one change from the side that drew with Partick Thistle two weeks before; Paul Willis starting in place of Joe Cardle.  The Blue Brazil were without their injured central defender, Joe Mbu and made two further changes from the side that faced Dundee, meaning Brian Fairbairn, John Ferguson and Paul Byrne all came in and Lee Sibanda and Marc McKenzie dropped to the bench.

The East Stand was open but sadly only for 254 travellers.  It was the visitors who kicked off defending the goal at the Cowdenbeath end and although they started with good possession it was David Graham who had the first shot at goal after just 100 seconds. Paul Willis accepted a cut back from Andy Kirk to cross and a deflection set up Gary Mason for a drive that broke to Graham but he was offside anyway.

Having been pegged back in their own half for several minutes, Dunfermline moved up when Graham received a Kirk ball out to the left wing and he prodded the ball forward to Steven McDougall and his cross was rather dangerously clipped over his crossbar by left back Scott Linton.  There was no threat posed from the corner kick but Andy Dowie then picked up the first yellow card of the night as he slid through an opponent right in front of referee Bobby Madden.

Willis beat two men before crossing for Graham in 16 minutes but his shot from 20 yards flew over both the keeper and his crossbar. Two minutes later Cowden forced a corner as Fairbairn belted the ball behind off Graham but when that was delivered from the right Colin Cameron`s shot was blasted high into the McCathie Stand.

David Hay had a simple job in holding a tame 20th minute shot by Andy Kirk from the right angle of the box but then in 24 minutes Mark Baxter stopped Graham in full flight just 20 yards out and Kirk got a pop at goal from the free kick but the Blue Brazil wall did its job.

Three minutes later Graham broke again on the left and Hay touched a good effort outside his left hand post.  From Willis` corner the ball was headed on target only to be parried by the keeper on the line. The clearance fell to Willis to the right of goal; he whacked a shot that was heading for the inside of the left post before a deflection played it on to Andy KIRK who in turn found the net. The hitman`s 14th goal of the season made it 1-0 Pars with 28 minutes on the clock.

Another Willis corner eight minutes later was well defended but there was a major let off when KIrk cashed in on a mistake by the two Cowdenbeath central defenders but Hay tipped the Irishman`s shot from 16 yards behind. Willis seemed to be invloved in everything and he broke inside to pick out Graham in a useful position yet again but Nick Phinn was offside when the ball came back in along the six yard line.

Half Time: Dunfermline 1 Cowdenbeath 0

Dunfermline keeper Chris Smith held a free kick shot at him from 38 yards before he set up Willis for a blistering run up the right wing and an equally impressive cross that Graham knocked down for Phinn to drive at goal.  The Pars fans roared in anticipation of seeing the ball hit the net but David Hay stretched to his right to pull off a fine 48th minute save,

Dunfermline settled into a good spell of possession and were unlucky when McDougall broke through to set up Graham for a shot.  The winger cut in to the top of the D from where he launched his effort through between two defenders but the ball cleared the crossbar.

Another Willis corner in 58 minutes was headed downwards by Dowie and Baxter cleared off his line to keep the Pars out. Pat Clarke came on for Andy Kirk and his first touch was a firmly hit shot on the angle from a Graham cross that went crunchingly over the bar.  Cowden`s sub Marc McKenzie who had come on at the same time then came close with a cross cum shot that Smith palmed away.

It was the Pars sub though that earned the super title with a goal in 63 minutes. From a Gary Mason pass Pat CLARKE sprinted in on goal from midway inside the opposition half and cooly slotted past Hay.  The lead became three just five minutes later and again it was Willis who was the provider smashing over a ball from the right that PHINN just had to touch to claim his goal.

It was a happy East End Park by now with chants of "Bring on the Rovers" as the league leaders looked in total command. Cowden had only just committed their third sub when Sibanda had to be assisted off and the Blues were down to ten men temporarily. Graham made a run to lay off to McDougall at the last minute and Hay turned the strikers attempt over the bar. Next Phinn powered a shot narrowly high and wide before he was substituted by 20 year old Ryan Thomson.

Joe Cardle also came on in 77th minute with Paul Willis withdrawn to a well earned standing ovation. The contest was over by now however. Jimmy Nicholl`s side accepted the defeat and the Pars closest things to extending their lead were two long balls that Hay won the race to both times.  That was until 86th minute anyway when CLARKE received a pass from Thomson on the edge of the box after he had won the ball from Cameron and the striker stuck it away at the left post.

Comedy struck for the fifth goal one minute from time.  Cardle hit a powerful shot to the far post and Hay parried the shot only to play the ball off Scott LINTON and back across his line.  The game concluded with the home fans shouting for six but it was a  great three points for the league leaders and a much improved Pars performance.

The real bonus is that Paul Willis seems to have remembered the touches and crosses that made him so impressive as he came up through the youth system. 

DUNFERMLINE: Chris Smith; Calum Woods, Andy Dowie, Alex Keddie, Austin McCann (c); Paul Willis (Joe Cardle 77), Nick Phinn (Ryan Thomson 77), Gary Mason, ; David Graham; Andy Kirk (Pat Clarke 58), Steven McDougall.
SUBS NOT USED:  Neil McGregor, Kyle Allison (GK)
YELLOW CARD: Dowie (10)
SCORER: Kirk (28), Clarke (63, 86), Phinn (68), Linton (og 89).

COWDENBEATH: David Hay; Mark Baxter, John Armstrong, Craig Winter, Scott Linton; Brian Fairbairn (Marc McKenzie 58), Colin Cameron, Mark Ramsay (Lee Sibanda 66), John Ferguson, Paul Byrne, John Dempster (Greg Stewart 70).
SUBS NOT USED: Tom O`Brien, Ludovic Roy (GK).
YELLOW CARD: Baxter (24)


NEXT MATCH: (away) First Division v Raith Rovers
Sunday 2nd January 2011, kick off 3.00pm -  All Ticket Match

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