Dunfermline 5 Inverness Caley Thistle 1Saturday, 12th Aug 2017
Ladbrokes Championship: Talbot, Shiels and Smith start in place of Martin, Paton and McManus. Smith (2) 1-0: Ashcroft (14) 2-0: Vigurs (18) 2-1: Cardle (41) 3-1: Hopkirk (67) 4-1: Cardle (90) 5-1
The first home league match of the 2017-2018 Championship season was against the newly relegated Inverness Caley Thistle. It was the first league visit of the Highlanders to East End Park since February 2012 and the Pars` last league win over Caley Thistle was last century on 18th December 1999. Since then there have been 10 League visits without defeat for Caley Thistle.
Manager Allan Johnston was without the services of the suspended Declan McManus and in the absence of Nicky Clark, out after surgery on his ankle, the attack was led by David Hopkirk with Callum Smith in a supporting role. Jason Talbot and Dean Shiels also started in place of Lewis Martin and Michael Paton.
Inverness manager John Robertson brought in Jake Mulraney and Collin Seedorf, meaning David Raven was on the bench and Ross Draper had left the club.
Iain Vigurs got the game underway with Caley Thistle attacking the goal at the McCathie Stand end. Within 90 seconds Callum Smith put the Pars into the lead. A Matthew Elsdon free kick on half way was pumped to the far right where Joe Cardle gathered and fed the ball forward. Running through SMITH headed the ball on and when Mark Rodgers came to meet it 20 yards out the ball broke left and the seventeen year old slipped the ball in for his first ever league goal. 1-0
There was an immediate response from Caley forcing a desperate block inside the Pars six yard box. Dunfermline soaked that up and with the confidence of the lead asserted themselves. Ryan Williamson got up the right and Nat Wedderburn turned on the top of the D and released a tenth minute shot that Ridgers saved.
John Baird tried a shot three minutes later that deflected behind for a corner on the left and Sean Murdoch grabbed that after first fisting it into the air.
David Hopkirk was next the threaten and he ran down the left channel to release a shot from 20 yards out that Ridgers turned away for a corner on the right. Kallum Higginbotham sent the ball in from the right for Lee ASHCROFT to meet at the near post and glance his 14th minute header in at the far post. 2-0
The visitors cut the deficit back just four minutes later. A Talbot challenge on Mulraney handed Caley a free kick 25 yards out VIGURS hit the setpiece low and the ball nestled in the far left of the home net. 2-1
On the half hour Inverness won a corner on the left and George Oakley met that but headed narrowly wide right. Then a high foot from Shiels earned Thistle a free kick 40 yards out. Vigurs aimed that forceably into the Pars box and it was Oakley who headed the deflected ball wide as he ran in on goal.
The away fans rallied as Vigurs quickly took another free kick this time on the right. Baird gathered on the edge of the box and laid the ball off for Mulraney but his effort was blocked. A corner on the right kept up the pressure as Caley pushed for an equaliser before they had to face John Robertson at half time.
Williamson conceded a 37th minute corner. Liam Polwarth delivered from the left and the ball cross crossed the six yard box before eventually going behind for a goal kick. Back at the other end the sun appeared as Cardle powered an effort on target only for Seedorf to block.
It was Dunfermline who were to score the next goal. A strong and determined run from Higginbotham cutting in from the right, brushed off challenges to set up CARDLE who netted from 20 yards out, in off the right post. 3-1
A satisfactory first half from DA, more of the same required in the second half.
Half Time: Dunfermline 3 Inverness Caley Thistle 1
Higginbotham switched the ball on down the right for Williamson to force a corner just two minutes into the second half but referee Steven McLean blew for an over aggressive challenge when the ball was centred.
In 50th minute Higginbotham again created danger as he took on players before slipping the ball into Williamson who raced forward on the overlap. His cross was controlled by Smith but Hopkirk arrived at the same moment and Inverness got of the hook.
Sean Murdoch was out fast to block an Oakley effort as the striker ran in to latch on to a 52nd minute Vigurs free kick play unexpectedly into the right side of the box.
Mulraney went down rather softly in a challenge from Cardle but Higginbotham headed clear. A 64th minute corner was flighted over from the left, Baird headed it back and Brad Mackay failed to trouble Murdoch as he collected.
Next a Caley break allowed Chalmers to cross and Ashcroft got between Oakley to concede the corner. That again failed to trouble the Pars and when play switched to the other end HOPKIRK was presented with the opportunity to net from the edge of the box with a fine finish. 4-1
With twenty minutes remaining Lewis Martin came on for Jason Talbot and Inverness made two tactical substitutions, Mulraney and Oakley were withdrawn to introduce Alex Cooper and Felitciano Zschusschen,
In 76 minutes Smith showed fantastic evasive skills to get in for a shot from the left but Ridgers deflected his effort behind. Cardle was next to have a go snatching a shot from 25 yards out that went wide right. Next Higginbotham fed Smith and his shot from an angle on the right was held by Ridgers dropping at his near post.
With the comfort of a three goal lead the Fifers spread the passes about the park, nevertheless Cooper got a late chance for ICT that was deflected behind for a corner that changed nothing.
In the last minute of the match CARDLE rubbed more salt in the Highhlanders wounds in a typical run along the 18 yard line until the opportunity arose to hit a low right footed shot into the bottom left. 5-1
Sixteen goals in three home games certainly will have the fans coming back for more.
SUBS NOT USED: Jean Yves M`Voto, Michael Paton, Fraser Aird, Cammy Gill (GK)
SCORERS: Smith (2), Ashcroft (14), Cardle (41, 90), Hopkirk (67)
YELLOW CARD: Morris (20)
INVERNESS CALEY THISTLE: Mark Ridgers: Colin Seedorf, Joe Chalmers, Matthew Elsdon, Riccardo Calder, Brad Mackay, Liam Polworth, Jake Mulraney (Alex Cooper 71), Iain Vigurs (David Raven 81), John Baird, George Oakley (Felitciano Zschusschen 71).
SUBS NOT USED: Connor Bell, Liam MacDonald, Ryan Esson (GK)
SCORERS: Vigurs (18)
YELLOW CARD: Oakley (6), Elsdon (23), Polworth (57), Mackay (76)
REFEREE: Steven McLean
WEATHER: Showery 15C
NEXT MATCH: Irn Bru (Challenge) Cup: (home) v Arbroath, Tuesday 15th August 2017, kick off 7.45pm at East End Park
Winning ticket no. 3208 won £747
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