Five league games, two draws, three defeats and bottom of the league. Despite the positives of this season’s league cup campaign, the Pars have struggled to come to grips with any real form in the league, struggling to score and conceding stupid goals. Yesterday’s defeat to Inverness was yet another example of the problems that this Dunfermline side are facing so far this season.
Arriving at East End Park on Saturday I was feeling both excited and positive. Only my second game I’ve attended this season with the only other being the narrow defeat at Celtic Park, I was looking forward to seeing this young Pars side play once again and I was confident that despite a stuttering start to the league, a home win was very much on the cards.
Having made his first competitive start for the Pars last weekend in the challenge cup defeat at home to Alloa, Stevie Crawford kept faith in young goalkeeper, Cammy Gill, who retained his place between the sticks in what was perhaps the biggest in surprise from the team news. Elsewhere, Lewis McCann, Kevin Nisbet, and Josh Edwards came back in to the side.
The first half all in all was a very drab affair. With both sides really cancelling each other out with only rare glimpses of quality. Inverness did start the better of the two teams with Tom Walsh looking lively in attack as the away side looked to play off second balls after repeatedly looking to go long to Jordan White. The Pars defence did hold firm and restrict Caley to very few chances.
After 25 or so minute the Pars started to grow in to the game, Greig Kiltie looking the most likely to make something happen for the home side. Frustratingly for the home fans tho it seemed as if the Pars were happy to play route one football at times, often going long to Tom Beadling playing on the right of midfield (strangely enough) and try and play for second balls. The best chance of the half did come for the Pars, as captain, Paul Paton’s volley went not far wide.
The second half got underway, and in fairness, the Pars started it well as they looked to try and get on the front foot. However as has been the story recently, Dunfermline really struggled to create any clear chances, Nisbet, McCann, Turner and Kiltie all managed to get snapshots off from in and around the box but all were either blocked or harmlessly wife. Inverness ‘keeper, Mark Ridgers, really had nothing to do.
Stevie Crawford made use of his subs bench as he introduced Josh Coley and Harry Cochrane to try and provide a creative spark, and in fairness both looked lively after coming on. However the bizarre thing I felt about this was that the Pars manager had taken off Lewis McCann and Kyle Turner who I felt were both growing in to the game and looked somewhat threatening, whilst leaving Paul Paton and Tom Beadling on the park who both looked to be tiring, and in all honesty weren’t having the best of games.
It felt as though Dunfermline were quite happy to settle for a point as we entered the last five or so minutes with Cammy Gill seeming to take his time before releasing the ball and trying to calm the game down, perhaps the team and managers were scared about facing another defeat? Well as it turned out, it was to be defeat regardless. Caley won it after a late penalty kick scored by Sean Welsh.
There did seem to be an air of controversy with some complaining about the award of a free kick and the position it was taken in, and about the award of the penalty itself. For me though, the referee got both decisions correct, Danny Devine handled in the box, a pretty obvious penalty in my book, especially when you take in to account the recent changes to the handball rule.
The late goal proved to be a killer blow as Dunfermline had next to no time to snatch an equaliser. Another very disappointing result for the Pars, however I would add that although the home side didn’t do enough to win the game, I certainly don’t think they deserved to lose it.
In all honesty I thought the Pars looked reasonably comfortable in defence for the large part of the game, with Cammy Gill having nothing much to do and any time he was called on he looked dependable. Both fullbacks were very steady, Josh Edwards put in a couple of decent crosses from set plays that perhaps should have been taken advantage of, whilst Aaron Comrie was voted as the sponsors man of the match after a solid display. Both centre halves also did fine I thought, Lee Ashcroft especially looked more comfortable than he certainly has done in recent games and in my opinion was probably man of the match for Dunfermline.
On to the midfield and where the frustrations come. Tom Beadling was deployed in an unfamiliar role on the right of midfield, and whilst you couldn’t fault him for effort, it just wasn’t his day. In fact that is a recurring theme amongst the ratings, you couldn’t fault any of the players for effort. The captain Paul Paton, worked hard and at times did well to break up play, but far too often he was careless in possession and on a number of occasions he seemed happy to just loop the ball over the defence for Nisbet to chase just as we were starting to put a passing move together, very frustrating. As for McCann and Turner, both were quiet in the first half but annoyingly were subbed just as it seemed that they were starting to grow into the game.
On to the front two of Kiltie and Nisbet. I thought the Kilmarnock loanee (Kiltie) looked lively, a number of nice touches in and around the box and seemed to link play well, on a couple of occasions he came very close to getting a decent attempt on goal but was crowded out before he could get his shot off. I definitely think he will be a good signing for us and I look forward to seeing more of him! As for Kevin Nisbet, it is obvious to me that there is a really good player in there, he’s being left to feed off scraps just now and is being forced to run channels almost as a lone striker. That clearly isn’t his game, just look at the league cup games for example, he performed admirably with another out and out striker up top with him in Andy Ryan and the goals and assists were flowing. Hopefully in the coming weeks he can get a proper strike partner to play with and he can get back in amongst the goals.
Finally, the subs, Danny Devine came on and did nothing but concede the penalty, what else can be said. Josh Coley looked lively and troubled the Inverness defence with his pace but he seems to lack any real end product. Harry Cochrane, he made more positive passes in the short time he was on the park then the rest of the midfielders had done all game. Get that lad in the team next week, it’s a must in my opinion.
Another poor result for Dunfermline, however I don’t think the performance was a poor as perhaps some are making it out to have been. I still see plenty of positives especially when we get Dow, Thomson and Murray back from injury and start to see more of the loan players. I do concede however, that next week is a big game for Stevie Crawford, I dread to think what the atmosphere will be like at the next home game should we lose away to Partick thistle next week and end up further adrift at the bottom. One final thing I will say is this, if anyone genuinely believe that this season would be plain sailing then they were kidding themselves. This is a long term project that the board and Stevie Crawford have put in place, it will take time, especially with young players. I know that poor results are frustrating, but sometimes things have to get worse before they get better. Crawford and the team need time, there’s been enough positive signs to show that they have the potential to come good, it’s important that the Pars supporters get behind them and give them every chance.