Ladbrokes Championship: Dunfermline 1 Ross County 2: 02/02/10

A game of two halves with the Pars in command for the first 45 minutes but with all the three points going to Dingwall

Stevie Crawford’s first home match in charge of Dunfermline Athletic was against league leaders Ross County. He made two changes from the side that drew with Morton, transfer deadline day signing Bruce Anderson came in for Callum Smith and Ryan Williamson started in the absence of the injured Tom Beadling.

Ross County made one change from the side that defeated Alloa 2-0 the previous week with Callum Semple replacing Sean Kelly. The visitors won the toss and asked the Pars to kick off into the low winter sun.

First shot at goal came on two minutes was from James Craigen and although Anderson tried to help it on the effort went wide. Then within a minute Joe Thomson crashed a low 25 yard effort outside the right post.

The first real County effort came after they were able to lob a cross over from the left touchline that Brian Graham headed forcefully down and on target causing Ryan Scully to get down rapidly to keep his goal in tact.

A ninth minute breakaway had Danny Devine back pedalling with Lee Ashcroft and Craigen trying to get back. The latter got entangled with Declan McManus, earning himself a ninth minute yellow card and the visitors a free kick 24 yards out. Billy McKay sent that over the six man wall and over Scully’s bar.

Dunfermline 1-2 Ross County
Sat, 2nd Feb 2019

Faissal El Bakhtaoui earned a 12th minute corner but when Craigen sent that in from the right refeee Barry Cook blew play up for an infringement despite the ball being at Anderson’s feet.

Five minutes past before Dunfermline turned defence into attack, Thomson swinging the ball out of his own box for Bakhtaoui on the left wing and his precision pass forward was ideal for Anderson to run on to and head in on goal. He was not to be the immediate hero however as Jamie Lindsay slid in to deny the shot.

Keeper Scott Fox was down on his knees to hold a low shot from Thomson on the edge of the box then in 24 minutes Anderson was through again having successfully got the better of Semple but he hit his shot at Fox.

A Thomson pass was intercepted by Lewis Spence and Jackson Longridge checked McManus leading a a free kick that the Pars successfully defended. Then in 33 minutes El Bakhtaoui sent Anderson through again and this time on an angle from the right side of the penalty box sent his low shot narrowly outside the left goalpost.

A 35th minute free kick from the right was again defended when McManus sent that into the Pars box, El Bakhtaoui broke but ran out of space on the left as McManus tracked back. The home side pressed with Vincent feeding Thomson but he was blocked and then with five minutes to the interval Thomson did get a shot away from 20 yards out but was off target left.

Eventually the pressure paid off. A wayward clearance by Lindsay dropped to El Bakhtaoui and he fed ANDERSON another ball on the right side of the County box. This time the on loan Don slid the ball home under the advancing Fox for the 41st minute opener. 1-0

Dunfermline had put in a good first half, showing much more determination, they thoroughly deserved their half time lead.

Half time: Dunfermline 1 Ross County 0

Ross County made two changes for the restart, Declan McManus and Callum Semple going off and Andy Boyle and Michael Gardyne coming on. The visitors were to get an equaliser that many thought had been scored from an offside position. A Marcus Fraser cross was headed away but from 20 yards out Ross Draper tried a shot that deflected off Craigen to McKAY who slotted home. There were many claims that the scorer had been in the wrong place but after much protest the match was restarted from the centre circle. 1-1

Ross County came extremely close to adding a second goal in 54 minutes. There was a game of ping pong on the Pars goal line instigated from a Graham shot as Devine, Ashcroft, Longridge and Craigen all dived in to keep the Staggies out.

The goal certainly gave the visitors a lift but it was a 64th minute mistake by Longridge ten yards into his own half letting Lindsay dispossess him that almost led to a second goal for the away team. Lindsay laced the ball through for McKay, the ball going in off the left upright but offside this time!

As the match went into its final quarter Fox was out to clutch a dangerous cross across the face of goal by Kallum Higginbotham. A Gardyne free kick was headed out by Thomson but Higginbotham was immediately robbed and McKay rattled a chance wide right.

Callum Smith and Ryan Blair were introduced in 73 minutes with strikers El Bakhtaoui and Anderson going off. The goal that most were looking for was to come for the Staggies. The ball was not cleared in the Dunfermline box and GARDYNE from 14 yards out was able to squeeze the ball between Vincent and Ashcroft into the top left corner. 1-2

Myles Hippolyte replaced James Craigen with seven minutes remaining but County were in command having knocked the stuffing out of their opponents with their second half performance.

When played on after an 88th minute late tackle on Smith, Hippolyte got into a shooting position but could not finish. Williamson had a run right into the County box in the second minute of added time but his low shot sneaked wide left.

The Pars had come close but few would argue that Ross County deserved the three points that retained their position as Championship League leaders. As for Dunfermline they had to realise that their first half performance and lead had to underline just how close they were to competing with the best that the Championship had to offer.
DUNFERMLINE: Ryan Scully: Ryan Williamson, Lee Ashcroft (c), Danny Devine, Jackson Longridge: Kallum Higginbotham, James Craigen (Myles Hippolyte 83), Joe Thomson, James Vincent: Bruce Anderson (Ryan Blair 73), Faissal El Bakhtaoui (Callum Smith 73).
SUBS NOT USED: Matthew Todd, Aidan Connolly, Stuart Morrison, Cammy Gill (GK)
SCORERS: Anderson (41)
YELLOW CARD: Craigen (9), Devine (24), Smith (79), Higginbotham (86)

ROSS COUNTY: Scott Fox: Marcus Fraser, Keith Watson, Callum Semple (Andrew Boyle HT), Kenny van der Wag: Ross Draper, Jamie Lindsay, Lewis Spence, Billy McKay, Declan McManus (Michael Gardyne HT), Brian Graham (Ross Stewart 68).
SUBS NOT USED: Josh Mullin, Tom Grivosti, Daniel Armstrong, Ross Munro (GK)
SCORERS: McKay (52), Gardyne (77)
YELLOW CARD: Lindsay (68), Spence (89), Van Der Weg (89)

REFEREE: Barry Cook

NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship (home) v Inverness Caley Thistle, Saturday 16th February 2019, 3.00pm kick off at East End Park.

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