It was a pleasing debut for Andy Ryan after the striker – who only joined the Pars yesterday morning – scored a double to seal the Pars’ passage into the second round of the Irn-Bru Cup.
The hosts made a number of changes from Saturday”s emphatic win over Inverness, with Lee Ashcroft and Lewis Martin suspended while new boy Andy Ryan got a run-out up front.
Dick Campbell brough Ryan McCord and Gavin Swankie in from the start as the Red Lichties looked to cause an upset on their Championship opponents.
David Hopkirk had an early opportunity, but his left footed effort was just too high before a similar chance fell to Fraser Aird, who also failed to hit the target.
With 15 minutes on the clock, David Hutton was forced into his first save of the night with Hopkirk being set free by a Michael Paton through-ball. The strikers right-footed effort was goal-bound but the former Pars keeper got down low to tip it away for a corner.
The opener came on 24 minutes when Ryan latched onto a loose clearance by the visitors. Paton had done well down the right and got a ball into the box; Thomas O’Brien attempted to clear but his header looped into the air and set the former Airdrieonians striker up nicely, as he hammered his left-footed volley home from the edge of the area.
Not long after, a straight red card was shown to Ricky Little, after he tangled with David Hopkirk. A long ball over the top saw the former Annan man chase down the pass. Little got to the ball first but his attempted header back to Hutton was short and that allowed Hopkirk to nip in; as the striker closed in on goal, Little tried to make amends but he caught the striker 20 yards from goal, with Euan Anderson giving a free-kick, which Aaron Splaine hit over the bar, and a red card to compound the misery on the visitors after consulting with his linesman.
Despite the man less, Arbroath fought their way back into the game and almost got an equaliser. After Ryan McCord took a quick free-kick to Bobby Linn, the 10-men closed in on the Pars goal but the cross was blocked for a corner by Scott Lochhead. The resultant corner was initially headed clear before Murdoch was forced into action, savng a Gavin Swankie effort from all of 25 yards.
The Pars won a corner on 40 minutes and Canadian internationalist Fraser Aird went across to the left-hand-side to swing in a delivery. Andy Ryan met it with his head and the deadly finisher got his second of the match to double the East End Park sides lead just before the break.
After a slow start to the second period by both sides, Allan Johnston was first to change things up; Declan McManus was brought on in the 53rd minute to replace David Hopkirk in a straight swap up front. It was Ryan, however, who got the first real chance of the second period when he was found free in the box by a Ryan Williamson chip into the area; the strikers header looped over the bar as the number 16 looked for his hat-trick.
Moments later and it was the Pars who were in a defence dilemma. The visitors knocked the ball long and Jason Talbot was exposed defensively. Sean Murdoch raced from his goal to try help as Steven Doris bared down towards the penalty area: the striker chipped his effort over the keeper but couldn’t hit the target as the ball skimmed wide of the post.
Hutton then had a fine save from Declan McManus after the substitute rifled in a venomous drive from the edge of the area which the goalie done well tro hold. Not long after, McManus had a new strike partner after Andy Ryan was taken off – 17 year old Callum Smith entered the fray as Allan Johnston looked for fresh legs up front.
It was the visitors, though, who began to take control. Around midway inside the second period, Doris latched onto a long ball into the box and after reaching his own headed knock-down, he swivelled at the edge of the penalty area to angle in a left-footed volley but the effort just trickled past Murdoch’s left-hand post.
Fraser Aird caught the League One side out on the counter-attack and his long-range strike was saved by Hutton, as the effort squirmed behind him but out for a corner. Lochhead latched onto the loose ball from the resultant Aird delivery but his weak effort dribbled wide from 20 yards.
Ryan McCord had a dig from range himself which Murdoch saved well in the centre of his goal before McCord was taken off alongside creative threat Bobby Linn and lone front-man Steven Doris. James Henry, Omar Kader and Bryan Prunty were the men who came on for the final 15 or so minutes, in a triple change by Dick Campbell which almost paid off.
Nat Wedderburn came on at centre-half for defensive-stricken Dunfermline, with Jason Talbot being replaced. With Lee Ashcroft and Lewis Martin suspended and Jean-Yves M’Voto injured, the Pars were light on option and that meant the English midfielder had to slot into the back four for the remainder of the match.
Fraser Aird had a free-kick well saved after his right-footed effort from the edge of the box, on the left-hand-side, was gathered by the experienced Hutton. The Red Lichties had their own free-kick chance themselves moments later after Prunty was fouled at the edge of the area by Aaron Splaine. Swankie stepped up but his effort went over the bar.
Another free-kick was awarded in shooting range and it went to the home side once again. This time, it was Michael Paton who fired in a right-footed effort which was inches over the top of Hutton’s bar.
As the visitors attempted to get back into the match, they had big appeals for a penalty with almost 5 minutes to play when Conner Duthie seemed to haul back Omar Kader as he raced into the area, before managing to clear his lines.
As the game approached injury time, Colin Hamilton headed over a golden opportunity for Arbroath with his header seeing Sean Murdoch rooted to the spot, but the defender couldn’t get the ball to dip quickly enough as it grazed the roof of the net on its way over.
The sides were evened back up numbers wise when young full-back Duthie – making his first appearance of the season – was sent off for two yellow cards within the space of 60 seconds. Firstly, he cyncially brought down Kader before attempting to stop a free-kick being taken quickly and was shown a quick-fire second yellow card by Euan Anderson for his obstruction.
Danny Denholm’s free-kick rattled the bar in the final act of the evening It was a hard-fought victory for the Pars in the end, with the Championship side seeming to take their foot off the gas in the second period and on another day, Arbroath may have been able to get a goal back.
Credit to Dick Campbell’s side for never giving up, especially with 10 men. Andy Ryan was ultimately the difference between the two sides, with the debutant scoring a fabulous volley and a clinical header to seal a win for his new side, only hours after putting pen to paper on a 2-year-deal with the Fife side.
FULL TIME: Dunfermline Athletic 2-0 Arbroath
Ryan 24′. 41′ Little (sent off) 30′
Duthie (sent off) 92′
Callum Morris (Captain(
Jason Talbot (Nat Wedderburn 75′)
David Hopkirk (Declan McManus 53′)
Andy Ryan (Callum Smith 63′)
SUBS NOT USED:
Cammy Gill (GK)
Mark Whatley (Captain)
Bobby Linn (Omar Kader 73′)
Ryan McCord (James Henry 73′)
Steven Doris (Bryan Prunty 73′)
SUBS NOT USED:
Ricky Gomes (GK)