Dunfermline 1 Livingston 0Tuesday, 3rd Apr 2018
Ladbrokes Championship: same again Pars starting eleven. Lee Ashcroft (11) 1-0.
Manager Allan Johnston went with the same again as his fourth placed side took on second placed Livingston. For the visitors their boss David Hopkin made four changes from the side that comfortably took care of Dumbarton the previous Saturday. Keaghan Jacobs and Scott Robinson came in off the subs bench while Craig Halkett and Alan Lithgow returned from suspension meaning it was substitute spots for Rafa Da Vita, Jack McMillan, Lee Miller and ex Par Gregor Buchanan.
Livingston kicked off through Scott Pittman attacking the goal at the McCathie Stand end. The visitors took the game to Dunfermline right from the start and Jackson Longridge got in the first shot of the night right on two minutes but that was high and left of Lee Robinson’s goal.
The home side created their first danger four minutes later from a through ball that Kallum Higginbotham laced up the right channel but Keaghan Jacobs closed out Declan McManus and the chance was gone.
Then in 11 minutes a Higginbotham free kick led to the opener. Higgy about ten yards inside the Livi half played the ball short off Ryan Williamson before belting it into the opposition box, there was a touch on by Tom Beadling before Lee ASHCROFT volleyed the ball home from six yards. 1-0
Livingston responded immediately forcing a corner on the right and they played a neat move that ended up with Ryan Hardie testing Robinson. Beadling collected the first caution of the game when he halted Halkett’s drive out of defence and Livingston continued to try and play themselves back into the game.
Fraser Aird forced a 22nd minute corner on the left and when that came in Callum Morris’ header back across goal was cleared only as far as Higginbotham. He drew three defenders to the left side of the penalty box and although he managed a cut back it evaded the Dunfermline shirts. Livingston cleared only as far as Ashcroft and the central defender, encouraged by the home fans to shoot, drove the ball narrowly wide right from 30 yards.
The Fifers failed to make anything out of a McManus break to Higginbotham and were guilty of losing possession a little too easily. On the half hour Longridge burst through, fed Scott Robinson on the edge of the box who then laid the ball off to his right for Jacobs to blast on target but to be blocked by Ashcroft. Hardie then got in a shot from an acute angle that went harmlessly behind.
The rain kept falling and the pitch was becoming muddier and more difficult. In 33 minutes Ashcroft was forced to concede a corner on the right as Pittman put him under pressure. James Craigen cleared the threat from Nicky Cadden’s Deliver but still the Lions played the game comfortably around in the Pars half.
Morris conceded a free kick 30 yards out but when Jacobs sent that high towards the far post the assistant referee’s flag went up for offside. Five minutes from the break Pittman supplied Hardie with the ball on the left and he powered into the Pars box to release a strong low drive that Robinson dropped to hold.
In 42 minutes Longridge sent Camden down the left wing and then met the cross to test Robinson who made a fine save to tip the ball away. Then back at the other end Pittman was shown yellow for up ending Higginbotham and Craigen took charge of the free kick from just 20 yards out. Unfortunately the ball cleared both the wall and the crossbar.
The home side went in a goal up but there would bound to be warnings from the management team that Livingston were by no means beaten yet.
Half time: Dunfermline 1 Livingston 0
Livingston started off the second half strongly with Lithgow testing Robinson from a Cadden free kick. The visitors nearly lost a second goal however in 51 minutes when Williamson made one of his strong runs up the right and his cross was despatched narrowly wide of Alexander’s goal.
Still the rain pelted down and Scott Robinson headed an opportunity wide left. Then in 58 minutes the first task for sub Adam Frizzell was to send over a testing ball from a corner on right into the centre of the Pars box. The muddy pitch did not help the connections but the visitors did get in a shot that Clark booted away.
Livi kept pressing with Longridge blocked on the left side of the box and Gallagher and Frizzell enjoyed time and space on the right before Pittman tried an aimless punt that Robinson held. The visitors introduced Lee Miller in place of Scott Robinson but it was Pittman who got really close in 68 minutes after Hardie headed the back down in front of goal but Lewis Martin made a great interception to prevent what looked like a certain goal.
The danger roused the Pars with McManus powering forward and despite many touched it was eventually Aird who belted an on target shot that was blocked. In 71 minutes Fraser Aird was subbed by Nat Wedderburn and there was some resolute defending still to be done.
Higginbotham did well in a challenge on the top of the Dunfermline D and raced away with the ball but the better chance fell to McManus in 77 minutes who charged down a defenders challenge to run in on goal but his shot lacked power and Alexander held.
A second Dunfermline goal then looked likely after Higginbotham got round the right side of the alibi defence and his pass was sweetly met by Clark but the keeper stretched to his right to save. Higginbotham gathered and tried a shot but the ball broke to Clark whose shot was beaten away.
Back came Livingston and they pressed hard for an equaliser but Andy Ryan had come on to provide fresh legs and it was his run that yielded a 85th minute free kick and a yellow card against Jacobs. Higginbotham lobbed the free kick to the far post where Alexander was relieved to see the post deny Beadling.
Longridge’s shot was deflected behind for an 89th minute corner. Another followed the first but the defence held out. The Pars were to survive a penalty appeal in the third minute of added time when Morris squeezed out Hardie and so three points stayed in Fife and the Pars went into third place.
Dundee United`s win over Dumbarton lifted them above Morton, level on points with Dunfermline but with a much inferior goal difference. The Greenock side are only two points behind with a game in hand on the Fifers.
SUBS NOT USED: Dan Armstrong, Dean Shiels, Conner Duthie, Jason Talbot, Cammy Gill (GK)
SCORERS: Ashcroft (11)
YELLOW CARD: Beadling (20), McManus (65)
LIVINGSTON: Neil Alexander: Declan Gallagher, Craig Halkett (c), Alan Lithgow, Keaghan Jacobs, Shaun Byrne, Scott Pittman (Jordan Thompson 73), Ryan Hardie, Nicky Cadden (Adam Frizzell 57), Jackson Longridge: Scott Robinson (Lee Miller 65).
SUBS NOT USED: Raffaele Da Vita, Jack McMillan, Gregor Buchanan, Gary Maley (GK).
YELLOW CARD: Pittman (44), Jacobs (85)
REFEREE: Stephen Finnie
WEATHER: Rain 2C
NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship: (away) v Falkirk, Saturday 7th April 2018, 3.00pm kick off at The Falkirk Stadium.
50/50 Ticket 037300 won £426.
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