SPL v St Johnstone


Attendance: 4474, Kick Off: 3:00pm.

Referee: Craig Thomson

St Johnstone returned to East End Park for the first time since April 2009 but this was their first top flight match there since October 2001. The Christmas Eve fixture afforded the Pars an opportunity to break their home duck in terms of wins and they did have some players back from injury to give Jim McIntyre selection options..

Paul Gallacher joined those on the sidelines but for this game McIntyre was able to bring back┬ Jason Thomson, Paddy Boyle┬ and Joe Cardle┬ with Chris Smith between the sticks. The subs bench included Andy Kirk and the dropped Gary Mason,John Potter and Liam Buchanan.┬ St Johnstone Manager Steve Lomas also had injuries that restricted his selection. He made three changes from the side that lost to Celtic the previous weekend. David Robertson, Alan Maybury and Kevin Moon moved out to make way for Callum Davidson, Jody Morris and Francisco Sandaza.

The visitors kicked off attacking the goal at the McCathie stand end but the first chances came at the other end when firstly David Graham switched the ballleft for Cardle to cross.┬ His effort was blocked but spun up in the air causing Enckleman to fist the ball over his bar and then from the ensuing short taken corner Willis received the ball back from Burns and then cut it back for Thomson but his shot went into the stand.

The Pars came closrer on ten minutes when Enckleman came way out of his goals as he has been known to do.┬ The keeper failed to get the ball out on the right wing and Andy Barrowman chipped in a shot from distance that just cleared the crossbar.

St Johnstone`s first corner on 13 minutes was swung in to the near post by Jody Morris and the Pars defence cleared.┬ A second corner a minute later was fumbled by Smith and Graham cleared. On 21 minutes Burns fed Willis on the right where he beat Callum Davidson to get in for a great cross but his team mates were all on the six yard line and none attacked the ball that flashed across the face of goal.

Liam Craig capitalised when Hardie lost possession in midfield and sent a great ball over from the left that just evaded the inrushing Marcus Haber. Next Craig best thomson on the left side of the Pars box but fortunarely his cross failed to create much danger.┬ A 28th minute free kick from Craig was not cleared. Sandaza robbed Hardie and eluded the Keddie challenge before making Smith save his shot from 20 yards.

The Saints started to gain much more possession and territorial advantage and went ahead from a bad mistake. The goal came from a Craig corner on the right, Chris SMITH went for the cross and appeared to punch the ball into his own net beating the efforts of his defender on the line to keep the all out.

Immediately after the goal the Perth side had a good claim for a penalty when Boyle eased Murray Davidson off the ball as he raced forward.┬ Then in 42 minutes a Craig shot was well saved by Smith and Sandaza thrashed the follow up on to the crossbar.

After startng the game well┬ Dunfermline let St Johnstone in to it and gave them an early Christmas present to make it that bit harder in the quest for a home win.

Half Time: Dunfermline 0 St Johnstone 1

Dunfermline came out with fresh endeavour earning an early corner. Willis sent the outswinger over from the right but a St Johnstone head cleared first and Dowie pinged the knock down over the bar. Pressure was maintained with Graham sending Cardle down the left but his cross was defended at the near post. Then Cardle headed a cross from the right back across the face of goal but there were no takers.

It had been all Dunfermline until 52 minutes. A St Johnstone counter attack sent the ball right where Haber broke and then fired in a low cross cum shot that Smith disappointingly failed to hold leaving SANDAZA the simplest of chances to slide home from five yards out.

St Johnstone took further confidence from the goal and increased their lead just seven minutes later. Sandaza danced his way through the centre of the defence before releasing the ball to his left for Liam CRAIG to strike past Smith.┬ Andy Kirk was introduced for Paul Willis meaning David Graham went right and the Pars went with two up front.┬ Ryan Thomson followed at the midway point in the second half to take over from the luckless Hardie.

The stuffing had really been knocked out of the home side and the only hope now was some sort of consolation. Liam Buchanan was brought on for Andy Barrowman but the game seemed to be as good as over despite over quarter of an hour to go.

The Pars were allowed possession and they did push up but St Johnstone soaked everything up with little difficulty. They had the luxury of withdrawing Sandaza with ten minutes to go and his replacement Carl Finnigan immediately tested Smith with a headed flick on.

On 82 minutes a fierce Callum Davidson drive that was net bound seemed to be kept out by Finnigan. In the end there was to be no Christmas cheer for the club and its supporters. The poor home form continues into the new year when Celtic are the first foots. St Johnstone`s impressive away form continued and they maintained their position fourth in the SPL. As for the Pars they face Christmas at the foot of the tree with very little to light up their Festive period.

DUNFERMLINE: Chris Smith, Jason Thomson, Andy Dowie,┬ Alex Keddie, Paddy Boyle; Paul Willis (Andy Kirk,62), Paul Burns,, Martin Hardie (c) (Ryan Thomson 67), David Graham, Joe Cardle, Andy Barrowman (Liam Buchanan 73)..
SUBS NOT USED: Ryan Goodfellow (GK), John Potter, Gary Mason,┬ Shaun Byrne.

ST JOHNSTONE: Peter Enckelman,┬ David Mackay, David McCracken, Steven Anderson, Callum Davidson,┬ Jody Morris (Kevin Moon 74),┬ Chris Millar, Liam Craig, Murray Davidson (Alan Maybury 84), Francisco Sandaza (Carl Finnigan 79), Marcus Haber.
SUBS NOT USED: Alan McManus, Scott Gray, Ricky McIntosh, Mark Durnan
SCORER: Smith (36 og), Sandaza (52)

WEATHER: Cool,┬ Wet 6C

NEXT MATCH: (away) SPL v Motherwell
Wednesday 28th December 2011, kick off 7.45pm

Pars 50/50 winning ticket: 48670

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