Brechin City 0 Dunfermline 3Saturday, 23rd Sep 2017
Ladbrokes Championship: Hopkirk starts in place of injured Cardle. Lee Ashcroft (28) 0-1: Declan McManus (55) 0-2: Nicky Clark (70) 0-3:
Brechin put up a good fight but Dunfermline`s quality and the relentless danger created by the overlapping Ryan Williamson supplied the Pars with three goals and three points to deservedly take back down the A90.
Dunfermline travelled to Glebe Park, Brechin as the top of the table Fifers met the foot of the table Angus outfit. Both sides made one enforced change. Allan Johnston brought in David Hopkirk for Joe Cardle following his hamstring injury early in the previous match. For the hosts Darren Dods replaced Aron Lynas with Chris O`Neil following his red card against Dumbarton.
Brechin City started former Dunfermline youth Finn Graham and last year`s squad player Euan Spark was on the bench. City, a team in search of their first win of the season kicked off playing up the slope and they certainly looked intent to alter that record. They attacked from the start and forced Lee Ashcroft into conceding a corner within 90 seconds.
Sean Murdoch`s first two touches proved crucial since from the corner he kept out Jordan Sinclair`s low shot with his outstretched left leg and then beat away Paul McLean`s follow up. The threat was not over however Graham tried a shot from the edge of the box and Nat Wedderburn stuck out a foot deflecting the ball to Kelvin Orsi. He looked set to net but his header sailed over the crossbar.
Gradually the Pars tamed their opponents initial enthusiasm. James Dale`s ninth minute tackle on Ryan Williamson brought the Pars player down but no penalty and two minutes later Kallum Higginbotham sent a free kick into the City box but Ashcroft`s header was easily held by keeper Graeme Smith.
Williamson surged forward in 16 minutes and Nicky Clark then fed the back back to his full back inside him as he entered the box. Dale came across and belted a clearance that rebounded off Williamson`s back and narrowly wide right. Now that would have been a novel first goal for Ryan!
Declan McManus` 19th minute low shot was turned behind at his near post by Smith. When Higginbotham delivered the corner in from the right and Callum Morris rose high above everyone to head net bound but that was cleared off the line and Smith followed that up by quick reaction saves from both McManus and Clark.
Dean Shiels sent a 21st minute effort wide right after Hopkirk had collected on the left side of the box and fed the ball back. Next Brechin sent their big men up for a long throw in from close to the right corner flag and nearly got caught on the break as Nat Wedderburn was first to ball and Clark won a good header to send McManus away. Higginbotham arrived in support but could only win a couple of corners. The home side lived dangerously, Dale kicked a Clark headed effort off the line but again their goal remained intact.
Jason Talbot`s run into the box earned a 28th minute corner from which the Pars were to open the scoring. Higginbotham`s ball in from the left travelled out to ASHCROFT on the right side of the box and his low drive took a deflection as it travelled into the net. 0-1
Dunfermline continued spraying passes about the park. Clark and Higginbotham combined well to take the winger wide left before Shiels put in a cross that was just too high for McManus.
There was a great chance for an equaliser just six minutes from the break. Orsi jinked through the middle between Ashcroft and Morris but thankfully Murdoch beat away the Brechin no.18s effort.
A fine pass from Higginbotham for Hopkirk to break away up the right saw McManus in for a shot but the keeper sent that behind and from the resultant corner Clark was desperately unlucky with his glancing header. Higginbotham was very unlucky to see a speculative shot from the left edge of the penalty box drop just beyond the right goalpost.
The visitors half time stats would show 60% possession and seven corners to Brechin`s one but only one goal separated the teams.
Half time: Brechin City 0 Dunfermline 1
Dunfermline won a corner within 40 seconds of the restart and although Higginbotham`s initial delivery was cleared he recovered the ball and sent over a cross for the big Dunfermline men on the edge of the six yard box. It was Wedderburn who got the header in but the ball dropped just wide left.
Brechin forced a corner in 48th minute when Connor McLennan belted a shot from the edge of the box that was well saved by Murdoch dropping to his left to turn the ball out for a corner. From that the ball broke to Sinclair who would hit the roof of the stand from 20 yards out.
At the other end Graham collected a yellow card as the Pars were awarded a free kick and Morris was up to blast an effort over the bar albeit with a deflection. The second Dunfermline goal was only minutes away and it came from a classic Williamson move. Winning the ball on the right he pushed it towards the byeline, ran on to it again and surprised his marker by getting a first class cross in that McMANUS rose to head home. 0-2
Ally Love replaced Connor McLennan and immediately the home side earned a corner that the Pars got away despite a firm effort from Sean Crichton. On the break Hopkirk played a one two off Higginbotham but was unlucky to see his cross from the left cut out.
Midway through the second half Hoppy was substituted by Callum Smith and within two minutes the Fifers were another goal ahead. Again it was Williamson collecting the ball on the right to supply the chance with another great cross. Crichton rose to attempt to clear but only succeeded in deflecting the ball away from his keeper`s clutches to allow CLARK an elementary finish chesting the ball home at the far post. 0-3
Graham tried a shot from 30 yards that took a deflection but not enough to beat Murdoch. Love tried to hit on the break but pulled his shot across goal and beyond the right upright. Dunfermline made a double substitution with 12 minutes remaining. Andy Ryan and Aaron Splaine took the places of Declan McManus and Dean Shiels.
Clark hit the crossbar with a fine shot from the edge of the box as he played the ball off Higginbotham in 82 minutes. Ryan hurt himself into a sliding tackle with Liam Watt but got up and sprinted towards goal when the ball came his way. He was put off just enough as he tried to play in a team mate to his right but then got close with a speculative header just a minute later.
Higginbotham was offside in 87th minute when he got through on the left and blasted over the bar. Splaine headed a cross from Talbot over the bar and Brechin`s final attempt from a Sinclair shot was headed behind by Morris.
A good away win that kept the Pars top of the league ahead of the big home match against Dundee United the next Saturday.
SUBS NOT USED: Isaac Layne, Gary Fusco, Patrick O`Neil (GK).
YELLOW CARD: Graham (51)
DUNFERMLINE: Sean Murdoch: Ryan Williamson, Callum Morris (c), Lee Ashcroft, Jason Talbot: Kallum Higginbotham, Nat Wedderburn, Dean Shiels (Aaron Splaine 78), David Hopkirk (Callum Smith 68): Declan McManus (Andy Ryan 78), Nicky Clark.
SUBS NOT USED: Lewis Martin, Fraser Aird, Scott Lochhead, Cammy Gill (GK).
SCORERS: Ashcroft (28), McManus (55), Clark (70)
YELLOW CARD: Hopkirk (31)
REFEREE: John McKendrick
WEATHER: Cloudy 16C
NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship: (home) Saturday 30th September v Dundee United. 3.00pm kick off at East End Park
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