Ladbrokes Championship: Dunfermline 1 St Mirren 2: 26/01/18

Jack Ross brought his league leaders to face Dunfermline on a Friday night in this Championship fixture rescheduled for live television.

Both sides made one change. Allan Johnston was without the services of Joe Cardle who served a one match suspension. Into the Pars side returned Kallum Higginbotham for his 23rd start of the season. St Mirren`s change was Adam Eckersley who replaced Stelios Demetriou.

Dunfermline kicked off attacking the goal at the Cowdenbeath end which hosted a sizeable and noisy travelling support. Nicky Clark made the first opportunity of the night in just the second minute. He laid the ball off for Michael Paton to pump into the Saints box and immediately there was controversy. Declan McManus was brought down by Jack Baird who had his hands on the Pars striker but referee John Beaton deemed McManus to have fallen over.

From a Dean Shiels free kick, Higginbotham forced the first corner of the match in sixth minute but when it was taken short the Fifers were caught offside. Then just two minutes later a McManus break was played out to Paton on the right and his yellow boot delivered a ball that fell for Higginbotham on the left side of the box but when he turned the ball back into the path of Jason Talbot the full back crashed the ball over the bar from 20 yards out.

The opening ten minutes were certainly all Dunfermline`s and any ball into the home box was easily dealt with by the all green keeper Lee Robinson. A 12th minute free kick did not give St Mirren any better joy but then a Stephen McGinn step over let Lewis Morgan through. Tracked by Williamson, the signed Celtic player was expected to shoot but his clever back flick set up Cammy SMITH who calmly netted at the far post. 0-1

St Mirren came close again in 21 minutes when Smith`s break set up Gavin Reilly on the left side of the penalty box but from a tight angle and closed down by Jean Yves M`Voto the former Par sent the ball wide right.

Smith got in for another shot on target but Robinson held with ease. There was a tremendous chance for the Pars to snatch the equaliser in 28 minutes. From his less favoured left foot, Ryan Williamson delivered a great ball in from the right but the touch evaded McManus and then Higginbotham who just needed the slightest of connections at the far post to turn the ball in.

There was a lack of goalmouth incidents but in 35 minutes M`Voto dwelt on a pass back allowing Reilly to race in but Robinson cleared. Following an impressive turn by McManus on halfway Higginbotham overhit a 37th minute cross. McManus was putting in a lot of effort and was impeded by McShane as he tried to make another break up the left.

Play halted for a head injury to Dean Shiels and James Craigen had to come on as sub. A 43rd minute cross from Higginbotham picked out M`Voto on the right side of the Saints box and Clark latched on to the knock down but his shot was held by Craig Samson.

54% first half possession for the visitors who went in ahead with the only goal of the game.

Half time: Dunfermline 0 St Mirren 1

The Pars got off to the best possible starts to the second half. A Paton free kick 15 yards inside the opposition half was directed to M`Voto on the edge of the box and his header was headed on by CLARK for the 48th minute equaliser. 1-1

Wedderburn caught McGinn and St Mirren were awarded a free kick 27 yards out and Robinson was forced to tip over Kyle Magennis` dangerous effort. The Paisley side`s 55th minute corner, their first of the night, was easily defended.

Two minutes later Paton robbed Morgan of possession as he tried a speedy break down the left to start the move that found Clark wide right. He got in the cross but Higginbotham`s looping heard was held by Samson.

A foul on Paton next gave the Pars a free kick 25 yards out just beyond the right corner of the penalty box but the setpiece was overhit by Higginbotham and St Mirren could breathe again. In 61 minutes Ryan Flynn replaced Ian McShane.

Michael Paton had to go off in 63 minutes as the Buddies waited to take a free kick 26 yards out and Fraser Aird came on. The sub barely got a glimpse as the ball was chipped from the free kick towards Jack BAIRD on the far side of the box and he directed the ball past Robinson 1-2.

Andy Ryan was introduced at Kallum Higginbotham`s expense in 71 minutes and there were several attempts to break through the Saints defence`s but it was proving to be a difficult task. There were appeals for a 77th minute penalty after McManus was tumbled in the box when on the end of a strong run by Aird ended with a dangerous pass.

Robinson made a good save after Morgan broke, played it off Eckersley to his left and then received it back to drill it on target. Next Ryan was harshly adjudged to have fouled and Saints had a free kick on the right. When Liam Smith crossed Mullen came uncomfortably close to heading a third.

McGinn played Morgan on for a 87th minute chance that he sent over the top. Next minute the Fifers forced a corner on the left but Aird`s low delivery was cleared as the ball fell behind Morris. Baird made a great block to deny Ryan and Craigen had a shot narrowly wide but time was running out for the Pars.

The three minutes added at the end of the 90 came and went and St Mirren registered their first win at East End Park since April 2001. Dunfermline as a result trail St Mirren by 18 points and now they will have to try to cling on to their third place to make the play offs.
DUNFERMLINE: Lee Robinson: Ryan Williamson, Callum Morris (c), Jean Yves M`Voto, Jason Talbot: Kallum Higginbotham (Andy Ryan 71), Nat Wedderburn, Dean Shiels (James Craigen 42), Michael Paton (Fraser Aird 63): Nicky Clark, Declan McManus.
SUBS NOT USED: Lewis Martin, Lee Ashcroft, Callum Smith, Cammy Gill (GK)
SCORERS: Clark (48)
YELLOW CARD: Shiels (31), Clark (63), Craigen (68), Morris (81)

ST MIRREN: Craig Samson: Liam Smith, Jack Baird, Harry Davis, Adam Eckersley: Stephen McGinn (c), Kyle Magennis, Lewis Morgan, Ian McShane (Ryan Flynn 61): Cammy Smith (Gary McKenzie 83), Gavin Reilly (Danny Mullen 78).
SUBS NOT USED: Stelios Demetriou, Mark Hill, John Sutton, Ross Stewart (GK).
SCORERS: C Smith (13), Baird (64)

REFEREE: John Beaton

NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship: (away) v Morton Saturday 3rd February 2018, kick off 3.00pm at Cappielow

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