SPFL Championship: DUMBARTON 2 DUNFERMLINE 2: 29/10/16

Ladbrokes Championship: Williamson and Clark start in place of injured Richards-Everton and El Alagui: Joe Thomson (37) 1-0: Nicky Clark (50) 1-1: Joe Cardle (81) 1-2: Garry Fleming (82) 2-2

Dunfermline Athletic returned to Dumbarton for their first league match there since January 2013. The stadium is now known as the Cheaper Insurance Direct Stadium and the Fifers travelled there in hope of their first league win away from home against a side that had only won once in fifteen matches in 2016-17.

Dumbarton manager Stevie Aitken went with the same starting eleven as faced Dundee United the previous Saturday. He felt that his side had matched United for long periods in the game so hardly a surprise vote of confidence in his players.

Dunfermline boss Allan Johnston was forced into two changes as a result of injuries to Farid El Alagui and Ben Richards-Everton. Nicky Clark returned upfront as did Ryan Williamson at right back with Lewis Martin moving into central defence alongside Lee Ashcroft.

The visitors kicked off defending the goal at the river end and retained possession for most of the opening two minutes. A high challenge by Jason Talbot on Sam Stanton earned the Sons a free kick 35 yards out but Williamson easily headed Mark Docherty`s delivery. Dumbarton kept play up in the Pars half and former Pars trialists Josh Todd got in the first on target shot of the game in fifth minute but Sean Murdoch saved.

Kallum Higginbotham was close enough to try a shot on the Dumbarton goal but that was blocked by Darren Barr. Then two minutes later Higgy tried a speculative shot from 20 yards out wide left that sent the ball on to the top of the crossbar and out.

Clark was next to have a crack at goal but that went wide and then in ninth minute Gavin Reilly`s cut back was smashed over the top by Clark. It had been a bright start from the Fifers and Paton continued that with a chipped shot from the left that fell wide right.

On 12 minutes Dumbarton no.9 Garry Fleming tried a shot on the counter but it was off target and easily dealt with. Back at the other end Talbot put over a fine cross that keeper Alan Martin had to dive forward to hold.

Five minutes past in which Dunfermline continued to push up, Williamson getting up to link with Paton and Higginbotham but the right back`s cross was well defended.

Dumbarton` attacking came predominantly from two long throw ins by Daniel Harvie, Robert Thomson headed on the first but only for Higginbotham to intercept and the second was not nearly so dangerous.

On loan Celtic player Joe Thomson made a break and Stanton was closed down fast after Geggan`s header sat up for the Dumbarton man. After Wedderburn conceded a 25th minute free kick just 15 yards out on the left, Thomson floated over a ball that Murdoch rose to hold.

Dunfermline built from the back until Geggan was able to thread a pass through for Clark in the centre of the Dumbarton box but Barr cut that out. Higginbotham was next to try his luck with a low shot from 30 yards out but Martin got down to hold at his right hand post.

The travelling support rallied as Reilly flashed an effort narrowly wide right but the yellow and orange checkered flag had alrady been raised for offside. At the other end Stanton hit the ball into the sidenetting after Talbot`s attempt to clear went skyward.

The home side had reasons to be worried after Reilly got to a long ball before the advancing keeper but the chance could not be taken. Then in 37 minutes Dunfermline paid the penalty for not taking any of their many chances. A ball across the Pars box 15 yards out evaded the challenging Williamson and Robert Thomson was able to flash the ball across the face of goal for Joe THOMSON to slide in and score. 1-0

Dunfermline`s immediate response was a Wedderburn cross on a Higginbotham lay off that Geggan got a header on but not enough to beat the 27 year old keeper.

Half time stats revealed 55% Dunfermline possession but too often that has broken down before they can make it tell.

Half time: Dumbarton 1 Dunfermline 0

Joe Cardle replaced Michael Paton before Joe Thomson kicked the second half off. In 48 minutes the sub was lining to net a Reilly cross but the unfortunate touch by Geggan trying to control in front of goal deflected the chance away from Cardle.

The equaliser was to come however just five minutes into the second half. Wedderburn stroked the ball out left for Talbot who sent it on for Higginbotham deep down the left. When he cut the ball back Talbot swung over a pass that CLARK rose to head home from six yards out. 1-1

Tails up, Dunfermline pushed forward again and Cardle extracted a good save out of Martin. A fantastic burst and run by Talbot had the Pars fans on their feet before he delivered into the danger zone in front of goal but a Dumbarton head conceded what was to be three corners from the left. The Sons rode the pressure before Higginbotham curled an effort over the crossbar.

Talbot continued to be a threat driving a 60th minute attempt into Barr. Wedderburn too had a go from 35 yards out but the ball shot over the top and out of the ground. It was the team in red that was exerting all the pressure but despite the injection of pace and urgency they continued to have little joy in the final third.

Cardle thrashed a 30 yard effort narrowly wide before at the midway point of the half Michael Moffat came off the bench to replace Gavin Reilly. Dumbarton it was who came close to getting the next goal, Todd getting away from Talbot sufficiently to hit a shot on target that Ashcroft headed behind for a corner that Grggan and Moffat combined to clear.

Higginbotham chipped a free kick into the Sons box that was defended out to Moffat but he failed to get enough on the opportunity to bother Alan Martin. Next a move from Cardle to Clark and then out to Williamson cutting in on the right side of the box only a corner on the right that Dumbarton headed away.

Todd crashed a 79th minute chance wide right afte Docherty had played through a fine defence splitting pass but the offside flag had been raised anyhow. Sub Andy Stirling tormented Geggan and Talbot before successful crossing towards the far post but there was no one to capitalise.

Dumbarton then got caught out when Lee Ashcroft made a great interception to send away Cardle. The Pars sub made ground with haste and released a good ball left to Clark who got away a good shot to the near post. The ball broke nicely off the left goalpost for CARDLE to net from close in. 1-2

Taking the lead in 81 minutes would seem to be a good time get the advantage but an equaliser followed within two minutes. The goal came from inability to clear convincingly. Martin chased his headed clearance out to his right but a returned ball from Harvie midway into the Pars half on his left was turned into the Pars net by FLEMING. The striker headed the cross down and stuck it past Murdoch. 2-2

Both teams went for a winner, Clark broke but sent his shot narrowly wide left while at the other end the home side despite being part time found energy to end pressing two corners but both well defended.
DUMBARTON: Alan Martin: Mark Docherty, Gregor Buchanan, Darren Barr, Daniel Harvie: Joe Thomson, Josh Todd, Garry Fleming, Sam Stanton (Andy Stirling 71), David Smith, Robert Thomson (Ryan Stevenson 87)
SUBS NOT USED: Craig Pettigrew, Donald McCallum, Frazer Wright, Jamie Ewings (GK)
SCORERS: Joe Thomson (37), Fleming (82)
YELLOW CARD: Harvie 45)

DUNFERMLINE: Sean Murdoch: Ryan Williamson, Lewis Martin, Lee Ashcroft, Jason Talbot: Michael Paton (Joe Cardle HT), Andy Geggan (c), Nat Wedderburn, Kallum Higginbotham: Nicky Clark, Gavin Reilly (Michael Moffat 67)
SUBS NOT USED: Rhys McCabe, Johnny Galloway, Callum Fordyce, Paul McMullan, David Hutton (GK)
SCORERS: Clark (50), Cardle (81)

REFEREE: Gavin Duncan
WEATHER: Overcast 12c

NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship: (home) v Raith Rovers, Saturday 5th November 2016, kick off 3.00pm at East End Park

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