Ladbrokes Championship: Dunfermline 2 Brechin City 1: 23/12/17

Brechin City were the visitors to East End Park on the last Saturday before Christmas. The Angus side were in search of their first win of their league season while Dunfermline Athletic were looking for their first win in eight league games.

The Pars manager Allan Johnston made one change from the side that started against St Mirren the previous Saturday, Kallum Higginbotham was relegated to the bench to bring in Michael Paton.

Brechin City manager Darren Dods had James Dale back from suspension but he was on the bench. Their only change from the side that played St Mirren two weeks ago, Aron Lynas came in for Willie Dyer.

The home side kicked off attacking the goal at the away end and they created the first opening of the afternoon with Nat Wedderburn in third minute picking out Nicky Clark who played the ball off Joe Cardle and on to Declan McManus. The striker then released Cardle on the right side of the box but he cut in and fired a low shot that was blocked. Next Paton put in a useful cross but that was cut out.

Five minutes later and Paton played Dean Shiels in on the right side of the box but he crashed his effort into the sidenetting. A Cardle cross in 12th minute was defended out as far as Wedderburn and he egged on by the crowd he shot. The ball stoped at Clark on the edge of the box and when he tried to find the net, the ball went narrowly wide right.

Kalvin Orsi hit Brechin`s first shot of the match but Sean Murdoch was nit taxed in holding the 16th minute attempt from 30 yards out. Two minutes later Callum Morris conceded a free kick 27 yards out and Liam Watt drove the setpiece behind off the Pars wall.

Dunfermline took the lead midway through the first half. It came from a simple cross from Wedderburn on the right to Clark beyond the far post. His header back across the face of goal was stuck away by McMANUS. 1-0

1-0 almost became 2-0 with the next attack on the visitors goal. Wedderburn` pass was touched into the path of Clark by Paton and the Pars top goalscorer was unlucky to see his shot escape wide right.

A 29th minute break from Clark off Cardle and on to Clark and McManus earned a corner on the right. Another followed and from the second Morris boomed a header outside the right post.

Wedderburn conceded a 34th minute free kick 40 yards out and Watt chipped the ball for Isaac Layne at the far post but his header was held by Murdoch. Back at the other end a Cardle cross deceived the defence and McManus was desperately unlucky not to add to his tally.

Five minutes before the interval Euan Smith embarked on a run and approaching the box he was looking for an opening. When that materialised he smashed a shot on target but the ball deflected off Wedderburn for a corner on the right that was duly defended.

Next Williamson was forward to set up Cardle but his shot went wide left. In the final minute of the half a powerful Williamson cross was met by the head of Clark but his header was off target was well.

Half time: Dunfermline 1 Brechin City 0

The visitors made a substitution for the restart, James Dale coming on for their skipper Paul McLean but they were to find themselves further behind within four minutes. A great ball from Clark on halfway picked out Cardle on the left and he headed for goal before slipping the ball to PATON on his right. The Pars no.15 made no mistake smacking his shot home for 2-0.

Connor McLENNAN came on for Kalvin Orsi ten minutes into the second half and he was to score just four minutes later. A strong run created the opening for the sub who unleashed a great strike from 25 yards out that gave Murdoch little chance. 2-1

Clark made Graeme Smith make a save on 65 minutes, firing a useful effort on target from 25 yards out. The one goal lead was made to feel most uncomfortable as Layne and then McLennan got into shooting positions. Only a corner was gained and the Fifers defended that.

Watt then fired a 71st minute shot on target from 20 yards and Murdoch turned the ball behind for another Brechin corner. Morris ushered the overstruck setpiece out before the play swing to the opposite end. That was only momentarily and there were much concern raised from the home fans as McLennan again created bedlam in the Pars defence.

Misplaced passes and losing possession at critical moments further frustrated the fans who were growing increasingly uneasy.

All three Dunfermline subs were committed between 77th and 79th minutes. Andy Ryan followed Kallum Higginbotham and Fraser Aird on as Joe Cardle, Dean Shiels and Declan McManus went off.

In 83rd minute a strong run by Ryan looked like it had provided the much sought after third goal. The former Airdrieonians striker got round the defence on the left, Graeme Smith came out to meet him and as the ball found Clark in front of goal it took a clearance off the line to keep the Pars out.

An 89th minute Brechin corner kept the pressure on the Pars, Murdoch fisted that away but another corner ensued. That changed nothing and in pretty horrendous conditions the home side saw the match out for the three points that put them in third place for Christmas.

DUNFERMLINE: Sean Murdoch: Ryan Williamson, Callum Morris (c), Lee Ashcroft, Jason Talbot: Michael Paton, Nat Wedderburn, Dean Shiels (Kallum Higginbotham 77), Joe Cardle (Fraser Aird 77): Nicky Clark, Declan McManus (Andy Ryan 79).
SUBS NOT USED: Lewis Martin, Callum Smith, Jean-Yves M`Voto, Cammy Gill (GK)
SCORERS: McManus (22), Paton (49)

BRECHIN CITY: Graeme Smith, Sean Crighton, Paul McLean (c) (James Dale HT), Gary Fusco, Aron Lynas, Jordan Sinclair (Finn Graham 77), Euan Smith, Euan Spark, Liam Watt, Kalvin Orsi (Connor McLennan 55), Isaac Layne
SUBS NOT USED: Andy Jackson, Ally Love, Chris O`Neil, Patrick O`Neil (GK)
SCORERS: McLennan (59)
YELLOW CARD: Fusco (62), Graham (90+3)

REFEREE: Greg Aitken

NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship (away) v Livingston, Saturday 30th December 2017, kick off 3.00pm

50/50 half time draw winner is ticket number 99745 for the prize of £825

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