Firhill for thrills, although given the form of the two sides heading in to Saturday’s game, it did seem that there would more likely be spills rather than thrills. Dunfermline and Partick Thistle both have had dreadful starts to the league season, sitting 10th and 9th respectively at the foot of the Scottish Championship. A scorching day in Maryhill was the scene for what was sure to be an important game as both sides looked to get their league campaigns back on track.
Stevie Crawford made two changes to his team with Gabby McGill coming in for his first league start to partner Kevin Nisbet up front, and also Ryan Dow returned after a spell on the sidelines through injury. Lewis McCann and Tom Beadling dropped to the bench. The changes meant that the Pars started with a natural number 9 partnering Kevin Nisbet as opposed to Greig Kiltie playing just behind Nisbet the week prior, this seemed to signal an attacking intent for the Pars in a game that many felt they had to win.
Thistle themselves came in to the game in dreadful form, second bottom in the league and having sacked manager Gary Caldwell just days prior to the game. However with the likes of Kenny Miller, Dario Zannatta and former Pars fan favourite, Joe Cardle, the Jags still posed a threat that Dunfermline needed to be wary of.
It was the home side who started on the front foot, with a positive open 15 minutes. Miller looked lively as well as Cardle down the Thistle right and Dunfermline struggled to string two passes together. The initial stages suggested that another tough afternoon on the cards for the Pars.
After a poor start, Dunfermline started to get a foothold in the game. The first chance for the Pars came as Aaron Comrie crosses for Kevin Nisbet however the striker couldn’t get enough power on his downwards header to beat Scott Fox in the Thistle goal. Not long after that Nisbet did find the net. A low cross from Comrie found Nisbet who finished low past Fox to give the Pars the lead. An important goal for the Pars striker who has been left frustrated in recent weeks and who I’m sure will be delighted to get back on the goal trail.
The opener seemed to be the catalyst for Dunfermline who started to play some lovely stuff immediately after the restart. Kiltie, Dow and Turner knocking it about nicely as the Pars looked to increase their advantage. Nisbet went close to a second as he saw his volley cannon back out off the crossbar, however minutes later the Pars did double their lead. Ryan Dow picked up the ball just inside the Thistle half and began to drive forward, “Pass it! pass it!”, the cry from the travelling supporters, however Dow continued his run right in to the penalty area and slotted a low left footed shot into the bottom right corner to make it two for Dunfermline.
After a shaky opening quarter of an hour, Dunfermline found their flow and deservedly went in to the interval two goals to the good. Dunfermline made a change at half time as Gabby McGill made way for Lewis McCann. Stevie Crawford confirmed post match that it was an enforced change although it would be fair to say that a lot of Pars might have suspected it was performance based as McGill struggled in the first half.
Dunfermline started the second half in the same manner as they ended the first, the Pars backline doing well to repel any form of Thistle attack whilst looking dangerous on the counter. Dunfermline added a third as Kyle Turners effort from range took a wicked deflection and flew past the Partick ‘keeper to put the game out of sight.
Dunfermline continued to maintain control as they eased across the finish line to secure a huge three points and a deserved clean sheet for Cammy Gill. A win that lifts the Pars off the bottom and up to seventh was a much needed boost for Stevie Crawford’s men.
For the second consecutive game Dunfermline started with the same goalkeeper and defence who despite the defeat the week prior, played quite well and this was another strong performance. Cammy Gill looked very comfortable throughout and earned the clean sheet that he deserved last week. Comrie was a threat down the right and set up Nisbet’s goal. The centre halves were comfortable throughout. Josh Edwards was fantastic, my man of the match. He was consistently strong in the tackle, comfortable on the ball and he provides a real balance to the back line having a left footer at left back. It felt like every time Thistle attacked down his side, he came out on top. It looks like we have a really good player on our hands in Edwards, and hopefully he can nail down that left back spot as his own.
Both Paul Paton and Kyle Turner improved on there performances from last week. Paton did very well winning back the ball and was strong in the tackle throughout, a very good performance and Turner did well and got on the scoresheet to finish the game off. Kiltie looked lively once again, early signs from him show that we have a good signing on our hands. Ryan Dow proved how important he is to the side, only lasted an hour on his return from injury but he was superb, his link up play was a joy to watch and he scored a fantastic goal.
Gabby McGill struggled in all honesty, you couldn’t fault his effort but at the moment it seems like there is a lack of quality for him to be considered a regular starter right now. Kevin Nisbet was very good, got his goal and by all accounts could have had a hat trick. Hopefully getting back amongst the goals can propel him on to a run of goals now. Lewis McCann came on for McGill at half time and was the pick of the subs, he definitely looks like a young player who will have a big impact this season.
This was a big win for Stevie Crawford. Pressure had already started to mount on the Pars boss and had he failed to secure a victory here then next weeks game at home to Alloa could have had a poisonous atmosphere. However, the Pars turned up on Saturday and put in their best league performance of the season. A proper solid away performance. I have said on numerous occasions that there had been signs that Crawford’s young guns would come good and this was another sign of that being the case. The majority of fans do still seem to be behind the manager, with the away following singing his name at numerous stages of the game. Hopefully this can kick start the season for Dunfermline, Alloa at home is a winnable fixture and the Pars need to go out there next week and get that much desired home league victory. As always with young players, consistency is an issue however hopefully this will be a confidence for the young side to go on and string a run of victories together and begin to look up the table.