DAFC 2 San Juan Jabloteh 1Tuesday, 18th Mar 2008
McIntyre and Harper scorers as Trinidad and Tobago side are visitors to E
It was Dunfermline's first ever match against Trinidad and Tobago opposition on Tuesday evening and, on a night when the temperature was anything but Caribbean, the Pars finished with a narrow win thanks to first half goals from Jim McIntyre and Kevin Harper. More importantly for the Player/Manager was the opportunity to give a full ninety minutes to players who are in need of match practice after coming back from injury. With the exception of captain Greg Shields, the starting line up was all change from that which drew at Dumfries on Saturday, and first team debuts were handed to youngsters Sandy Nairn and Gary MacLachlan.
In the fourth Gary was the first to have a shot at goal after good work by Kevin Harper, but his 18-yard effort was well over the bar. In the next minute Gason Gregory showed tremendous pace to skip past Nairn but his shot too was way off target. It was a feat that Gregory was to repeat more than once during the course of the game.
Despite Dunfermline winning the first corner of the game in the 7th minute, it was San Juan who were first to get a shot on target three minutes later when Byers took a pass from the left side of the box and placed his shot low to the keeper's right. Thankfully Sean Murdoch was alert and pulled off a good save. By now, however, Dunfermline had begun to dominate the game with youngster Paul Willis exploiting space down the right wing to good effect. But it was from the other side of the park that he created the Pars' opener in the 15th minute. Dunfermline were awarded a free kick just inside the left by-line level with the 18 yard box. Paul swung a high looping free kick to the far side of the box where Williams in the San Juan goal struggled to make contact and when the ball bounced back across goal Jim McINTYRE was on hand to slot home from six yards.
The Pars domination continued as the visitors struggled to find their own men, but a series of corners and free kicks came and went without any further threat on the San Juan goal. But in the 28th minute, Dunfermline increased their lead. Paul Willis again was the provider, slotting a ball through to Kevin HARPER on the edge of the penalty area where the Pars second striker for the night fired a powerful shot into the right hand corner of the net. Six minutes later and we wondered if Sol Bamba was going to break his goalscoring duck as he ventured on one of his mazey runs to the edge of the box. Unfortunately that's where it all ended as Sol blasted his shot very high and not very handsome.
With hypothermia not too far away, the last ten minutes of the first half rather petered out. San Juan saw much more of the play at this point and produced a shot from Elton John that brought a comfortable save from Murdoch. At half time we reflected that there hadn't been much 'Rocket Man' about Elton's shot, and nor about San Juan's overall performance.
Half Time: Dunfermline 2 San Juan Jabloteh 0
Dunfermline started the second half looking for a third and almost got it immediately as Willis slipped a neat pass to Harper who took the ball in his stride to finish clinically only to find the linesman's flag up for offside. In the 49th minute the same two combined again to give Jim McIntyre a shot that whizzed past the sub keeper's left-hand post from 15 yards. Another good combination between McIntyre and Harper saw Kevin shoot wide, then in the 55th minute a solo run from Harper caused the San Juan defence problems but there were no takers for the final ball into the box.
In the 57th minute a defensive error and hesitation by Murdoch as he failed to clear gave San Juan an opportunity but the chance was missed. In the next minute the pattern of the game was to be altered as Scott Muirhead fell awkwardly and went off with an injured collarbone. No substitution was to be made immediately and Dunfermline suffered when Peter BYERS opened the visitors' account in the 65th minute with an excellently taken left foot volley from 15 yards that gave Murdoch no chance.
The Pars substitutions were now made with Kris Maxwell replacing Sol Bamba and Charlie Bradshaw coming on for the injured Scott Muirhead. The defence also had to be reshuffled with MacLachlan moving to centre half, Nairn to left back and Willis to right back.
Kris Maxwell in friendly v San Juan Jabloteh
San Juan's confidence had grown and they now had territorial advantage. In 71 minutes they should have equalised when a free kick from the edge of the box cannoned high off the defensive wall into the Pars six-yard box where somehow the forward shot well wide. But Dunfermline too had a chance to finish matters off just five minutes later in similar circumstances. A Pars' corner from the left was headed high inside the box by San Juan defender Murray. When the ball broke, Greg Shields swiped a left foot shot wide with the goal at his mercy.
San Juan continued to take play to the Pars makeshift defence in the closing stages, but there were no real worries for Sean Murdoch in goal. Referee Craig Charleston found time to add four minutes of extra time, but it made no difference and Dunfermline took a deserved victory.
Gary MacLachlan in friendly v San Juan Jabloteh
This would have been a worthwhile exercise for Jim McIntyre given how few games some of these players have had recently. And although this was a friendly, make no mistake, this was a competitive match. Scott Muirhead had to go to hospital for a precautionary X-ray on his collarbone after the game, but hopefully that is all it is. The younger players performed very well and Darren Young got his first game under his belt while Greg Shields and Jim McIntyre showed that they are edging closer to full fitness.
DUNFERMLINE ATHLETIC: Sean Murdoch, Sandy Nairn, Scott Muirhead (Charlie Bradshaw 65), Gary MacLachlan, Greg Shields (c), Sol Bamba (Kris Maxwell 65), Paul Willis, Darren Young, Kevin Harper, Jim McIntyre, Iain Williamson.
SUB NOT USED: Paul Gallacher (GK).
SAN JUAN JABLOTEH: Daurance Williams, Karlon Murray, Dwayne Jack, Kevon Villaroel, Julian Landeau, Trent Noel, Devon Jamerson, Jason Macano, Gason Gregory, Elton John, Peter Byers. Subs: Cleon John (GK), Jason Cudjoe, Noel Williams, Joel Russell, Robert Primus, Anton Hutchison, Kaashif Thomas, Willis Plaza, Elijah Manners.
REFEREE: Craig Charleston