It was a drab 90 minutes in Methil with neither side creating many clear cut chances as New Bayview before the fun started in the resultant penalty-shoot-out, with only one kick missed from the 18 taken.
It was the first match to be played on East Fife’s new astroturf pitch and with the game being a Fife derby, it was a great way for the locals to see the new surface. However, in a good of few chances, they may have left disappointed.
Thomas Cordery came in to make his senior debut in place of former Pars player Ryan Goodfellow. With Chris Kane adding his name to the list of absentees ahead of yesterday’s match, it left boss Darren Young with only 4 substitutes – including himself!
The Pars lined up in familiar fashion with no place in the starting line-up for new signing, Northern Ireland International, Dean Shiels. Aaron Splaine also returned from injury, with Stuart Morrison and Brandon Luke dropping out of the 18-man squad completely.
The game started in slow fashion with neither keeper being tested early on. It was the Pars who were doing most of the early pressing, with Lee Ashcroft causing the most panic in the East Fife penalty area as he headed down a free-kick by Kallum Higginbotham but the danger was cleared.
When Cordery was finally faced with the ball, it was from his own team-mate, Craig Watson. The keeper saving the heavily-weighted and high pass-back meant the Pars had a free-kick just 8 yards out on the right side of the goal. Nicky Clark laid it off to Higginbotham but the wall – comprising of nearly every home jersey – before the ball went behind for a corner kick.
Higginbotham’s in-swinging delivery was met by the head of Clark but the four goal hero from Saturday couldn’t find the net on this occasion as his header flew over the crossbar.
With the first-half drawing to a close, Cordery was forced into some serious action for the first time in the game. Firstly, Nicky Clark hit a right-footed shot from 20 yards out but goalkeeper done well to save low before Craig Watson cleared. Then, a long ball caught everyone out as McManus nipped in ahead of Cordery but his cut-back wasn’t to be converted with Clark then Cardle unable to finish. Higginbotham had the last chance of the first-half as his low daisy-cutter almost caught the youngster out at his near post but he managed to get down and turn it by the post.
In between all of this, Nathan Flannagan – on loan from St Mirren – managed to manoeuvre his way past Ashcroft as he drove into the box from the right hand side but the youngster shot from a difficult angle and the ball hit the side-netting..
At the break, Ryan Goodfellow came on for injury goalkeeper Thomas Cordery who was seen during the second half wearing a neck brace.
The away side started at blistering pace with former Raith Rovers striker Declan McManus dragging a shot wide inside the opening 30 seconds.
Despite all the posession, Allan Johnston’s men were failing to carve out clear-cut chances. As Higginbotham swung in a free-kick, Lee Ashcroft rose above his marker to head towards goal, forcing Goodfellow into a relatively comfortable save on his goal line.
Full-back Lewis Martin managed to squirm his way into a shooting position just after the hour mark but his shot was blocked before Michael Paton – finding himself in a new central midfield role this season – fired wide of target and not troubling 24-year-old Goodfellow.
With nearly 20 minutes to go, new signing Dean Shiels and youngster Scott Lochhead were introduced to the field to try create a spark in the middle of the park. With defensive midfielder Nat Wedderburn going off – alongside Higginbotham – it showed the desire and determination of the Pars to finish the match within 90 minutes as they pushed for a goal that would surely win them the match.
As East Fife remained camped inside their own half, Joe Cardle, Michael Paton and Dean Shiels fired wide while Soctt Lochhead and late substitute Callum Smith forced saves from Ryan Goodfellow but no winner could be found. As Gavin Ross blew his whistle, it was the dreaded penalty-shoot-out to decide this contest.
It was the Pars who stepped up first with Dean Shiels sending Goodfellow the wrong way before Mark Docherty smashed his penalty down the middle. Michael Paton and then Paul Willis scored before, for the third penalty in a row for Dunfermline, Clark slotted the ball into the bottom right hand corner, sending Goodfellow the wrong way.
Patrick Slattery, Joe Cardle and Nathan Flannagan as the score was tied at 4-4; sudden death for either side, with only one miss potentially be meaningful. Youngster Lochhead stood up to take the fifth kick of the night for the Paes before Watson fired East Fife level again.
Dunfermline Captain Callum Morris was next up, firing straight down the middle before local kid Ross Mutch stepped up and equalised again for the Fife.
Lee Ashcroft; Kyle Wilson; Ryan Williamson and Aaron Dunsmore all scored to make the score 8-8 heading into round 9 of the shoot-out.
17-year old Smith – who had scored his first senior goal in the win over Elgin on Saturday – stepped up and converted his penalty. With only goalkeeper Goodfellow, player/manager Darren Young and defender Ben Gordon left for the hosts, it was the tall #16 who stepped up. Facing 30-year-old Sean Murdoch, the experienced keeper dived low to his right to save the kick, tipping it on to the post, with the ball bouncing to safety.
Both sides pick up a point, for the draw within 00 minutes, but the Pars claim a second “bonus” point after winning the shoot-out to see them sit top of Group B after two matches on 5 points.
FULL TIME: East Fife 0-0 Dunfermline Athletic (Dunfermline win 9-8 on penalties)
Speaking after the game, Darren Young said: “I was delighted with the performance but a wee bit gutted that we have lost on penalties. When it goes to that kind of situation, it is always going to be 50/50 – and to be fair, it was some standard of penalties too! I was kinda delighted though as I was up next!”
On his late cameo appearance, the East Fife gaffer said: “One of the boys [Ben Reilly] had cramp and we just thought to shut up shop even more. By getting myself on, it gave the boys a 30-second rest and then when I came on I just sat in front of the defence. Delighted with the overall performance, our fitness, our work rate as well considering we were up against a full-time team. We had a few half-chances and on another day we might have got something but defensively, our shape was brilliant; making blocks, stopping the crosses… we had seen their game [versus Elgin] on Saturday and that is something we had to emphasise to them – we had to stop the crosses as they scored 5 goals from crosses. We had 6 players out – 5 with injury and one suspended, and to add to that, we had to put this old guy on as well so, we are down to the bare bones.”
Concluding, as he looks ahead to Saturday’s visit to Tynecastle, where East Fife will face Hearts, the former Aberdeen midfielder said: “If we can take that same performance and work-rate into the Hearts game – while it won’t be easy – then it will all be good. Saturday was a mistake and it cost us the game: a short pass-back to [Rory] McAllister and McAllister does what he does best and finished it off. We had a lot more chances in that game – a strong penalty shout as well – so for us it was disappointing to not pick anything up from the Peterhead game but we are still trying to gel, and get the boys together, and that is difficult when you have 5 or 6 boys out; don’t get me wrong, we had guys tonight who done brilliant, they done myself and themselves proud too.”
21. Thomas Cordery (Ryan Goodfellow 45′)
2. Aaron Dunsmore
16. Ben Gordon
6. Craig Watson
3. Mark Dochertty (Captain)
18. Nathan Flannagan (Ross Mutch 72′)
20. Ben Reilly (Darren Young 88′)
77. Paul Willis
8. Patrick Slattery
14. Kyle Wilson
9. Chris Duggan
1. Ryan Goodfellow (GK)
12. Ryan Inglis
17. Ross Mutch
18. Darren Young
1. Sean Murdoch
2. Ryan Williamson
5. Callum Morris
6. Lee Ashcroft
3. Lewis Martin
7. Kallum Higginbotham (Scott Lochhead 69′)
15. Michael Paton
8. Nat Wedderburn (Dean Shiels 69′)
11. Joe Cardle
9. Declan McManus
10. Nicky Clark
20. Cameron Gill (GK)
4. Jean-Yves M’Voto
13. Aaron Splaine
18. Conner Duthie
19. Scott Lochhead
23. Callum Smith
27. Dean Shiels