Dundee United 1 Dunfermline 0Tuesday, 8th Nov 2016
Ladbrokes Championship: Pars go with same again. Nat Wedderburn red card (39): Simon Murray (79) 1-0
Dunfermline took the road to Dundee four days early to fulfil this Ladbrokes Championship fixture and accommodate the re-match at East End Park in the Irn-Bru Cup on Saturday. For just the second time this season Manager Allan Johnston was able to name the same starting eleven. Dundee United made one change Jamie Robson taking the place of Paul Dixon.
United had already beaten the Pars twice this season but Ray McKinnon had identified the Pars attacking philosophy and players who could get forward at pace. He also made reference to Cammy Bell`s heroics in the home game with three first half penalty saves.
Ryan Williamson suffered injury in the warm up and on to the bench came Callum Smith. The visitors started strongly with play predominantly up the right. Nicky Clark forced a second minute corner and Andy Geggan came close to connecting with the delivery and then got a second chance but that was blocked.
United then forced a corner of their own but Kallum Higginbotham headed away Scott Fraser`s ball in from the left. Then in 10th minute the Pars earned a free kick midway inside the opposition half when Clark was taken out by Mark Durnan but Higginbotham`s flighted ball into the box was easily held by Bell.
The 13th minute could have been unlucky for the Fifers after Frank van der Struijk took advantage of Jason Talbot and then evaded Lee Ashcroft`s attempt to catch him. Fortunately once at the right edge of the box the Dutchman`s final ball in was woeful and the Pars fans behind the goal jeered.
Dunfermline had another corner but when Higginbotham`s delivery dropped for Clark he was quickly robbed of possession. Back at the other end Ashcroft made a telling tackle to prevent Simon Murray bursting through on goal and Higginbotham conceded a somewhat needless corner on the left. Fortunately Sean Murdoch was able to hold William Edjenguele`s looping header.
Clark was able to get a shot on target from 20 yards out but not with sufficient power to trouble Bell. Murdoch too was brought into action diving to his left to hold a dangerous shot from Tony Andreu after being neatly played through by Murray.
A 32nd minute free kick from 30 yards out deflected off the four man United wall but Higginbotham`s cross from the corner on the right, directed at Cardle outside the box was intercepted by a tangerine shirt.
Dunfermline had made a fair contest of it but in 39th minute Nat Wedderburn was shown a straight red for kicking through Andreu on the United edge of the centre circle. Farid El Alagui and Tope Obadeyi were also shown yellow before play resumed.
Murdoch pulled off a fine right footed save to keep out Murray who threatened to make a break through just before the break. A fairly even half in terms of possession and territory but the home side created more shooting opportunities and there`s look the more dangerous. It remained to be seen just how Allan Johnston and the management team would approach the second 45 with the one man disadvantage.
Half time: Dundee United 0 Dunfermline 0
Before the second half resumed Rhys McCabe was brought on and Joe Cardle withdrawn in what could construed as a move to tighten up the midfield in Wedderburn`s absence.
United created bedlam at a 53rd minute corner and it required an overhead kick from Higginbotham to get the penalty box cleared. The home side searched for the opening and had the ten men chasing them all over the Dunfermline half. In 58 minutes Fraser latched on to a chance on the top of the box but drilled his effort low and wide right.
Murdoch then held a weak chip in from the right from Robson and the Tannadice men were soon back in possession. Andreu broke in to the right byeline and his cut back looked menacing but Geggan raced in and belted the ball away to safety.
Further fears were not required but United introduced two fresh pairs of legs in Nick van der Velden and Cammy Smith in place of Obadeyi and Telfer. However it was the Pars who threatened on the counter. Clark`s powerful run up the left earned a corner, the travelling support roared but nothing came from the setpiece.
Willo Flood then fired off target and next Murray headed an effort narrowly wide right. McCabe booted away the next danger as the game entered its final quarter. Ashcroft made a very necessary headed clearance. Could Dunfermline see out the game for a point? Murdoch was booked for time wasting at a goal kick and then Murray wasted a good chance firing into the stand from 18 yards out.
Geggan created a rare chance thrashing the ball into the box but with no takers before El Alagui found himself with one defender ahead of him and Higginbotham and Clark screeching up either side of him. He chose Clark for the pass but he was tracked back and tackled at just the right time.
Higginbotham then had a 75th minute chance from an angle on the right but that escaped just outside the far post. Meanwhile United missed several good chances, not really testing Murdoch since they were hit narrowly over the bar.
In 79 Fraser was free on the left but Murdoch was out fast to block and the second chance was sent for a corner on the left by Ashcroft. That turned out to be critical, the ball was not taken as it swung in and broke for MURRAY to bulge the net from six yards. 1-0
Paul McMullan came on as Kallum Higginbotham was subbed but United slowed the game down, happy to see out the final ten minutes.
In the third minute of added time Nicky Clark was afforded the last chance of the match crashing in a shot at an angle from the right but Bell saved. No goal and no points.
United take all three and go level at the top with Hibs.
SUBS NOT USED: Sean Dillon, Coll Donaldson, Lewis Toshney, Luis Maria Zwick (GK).
SCORERS: Murray (79)
YELLOW CARD: Obadeyi (41), Murray (43), Bell (83)
DUNFERMLINE: Sean Murdoch: Andy Geggan (c), Lewis Martin, Lee Ashcroft, Jason Talbot: Kallum Higginbotham (Paul McMullan 85), John Herron, Nat Wedderburn, Joe Cardle (Rhys McCabe HT): Nicky Clark, Farid El Alagui
SUBS NOT USED: Michael Moffat, Michael Paton, Callum Smith, Callum Fordyce, David Hutton (GK)
YELLOW CARD: Higginbotham (35), Geggan (41), El Alagui (41), Murdoch (70)
RED CARD: Wedderburn (39)
REFEREE: Don Robertson
WEATHER: 4C Fine
NEXT MATCH: Irn-Bru Cup (home) v Dundee United, Saturday 12th November 2016, kick off 12.30pm at East End Park
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