Dunfermline Athletic continued their good form with a strong performance against a plucky Brechin side.
Darren Dods’ men came into the match on the back of a late sucker punch away to Dumbarton last weekend with Aron Lynas missing out through suspension. Chris O’Neil came in for him at rigbt-wing-back in the only change for the hosts as they lined up in a 3-5-2 formation.
Similarly, it was only one enforced changed by Allan Johnston’s men following the previous weekends win over St Mirren with the injured Joe Cardle being replaced by David Hopkirk. Scott Lochhead came onto the bench to complete the 18+man visiting squad.
It was the Glebe Park side that started the brighter however and forced a quick-fire double save from Pars keeper Sean Murdoch from an early corner before Kalvin Orsi headed over the third chance as the league leaders failed to clear initially. A golden opportunity for the hosts lost inside the opening 100 seconds.
The tempo dropped after the bright start and this allowed Dunfermline to slowly gain command. Influential full-back Ryan Williamson rode a tackle before attempting a one-two with Nicky Clark at the edge of the area but the ball was cleared behind for a goal-kick after the ball was cannoned off Williamson inside the penalty area.
It was the Pars this time who were denied a goal by Brechin stopper Graeme Smith with the former Hibs and Motherwell keeper making three blocks from a Higginbotham corner to keep the score level.
It wasn’t long before Allan Johnston’s men did open the scoring however with centre-back Lee Ashcroft firing the ball home at the back post after another set-piece delivery from the left. The right footed effort seemed to take a deflection as the ball went into the back of net but the former Kilmarnock defender took the applause from the large travelling support.
Kalvin Orsi once again caused the visitors alarm as the home side created their first chance from open play just before half-time as City looked for a way back into the contest. The ex-Aberdeen youngster weaved his way into the area but Murdoch was up to the task again.
Kallum Higginbotham saw an unorthodox effort catch out Smith in the Brechin goal but his dipping effort just wouldn’t drop quickly enough as it swirled narrowly over the crossbar.
After City’s early first-half opportunity from a corner on the right, the Pars almost replicated the scenario from kick off after winning an early set piece with Wedderburn missing the goal with a close range header to let Dods’ side off the hook just seconds into the second period.
Connor McLennan – on loan from Aberdeen – forced Murdoch into a terrific low save to hod right before Jordan Sinclair blazed over another opportunity to draw the game level.
These missed chances were to be rued by City as Williamson won the ball back on the right 20 yards out and charged towards the bye-line; his teasing delivery saw Declan McManus rise inside the 6-yard-box to header home unmarked to double the Pars’ lead.
It was more poor defending which put the game beyond doubt as Williamson again became supplier to make it 3-0. His cross from the right was missed by everyone in the middle – including keeper Smith – and that allowed Nicky Clark a simple tap-in.
Substitute Ally Love managed to get in behind Williamson and Morris on Brechin’s left but the striker was off-target with his effort in Brechin’s last meaningful chance of the game.
Dunfermline came close again late on as Clark rattled the crossbar before substitutes Andy Ryan and Aaron Splaine saw headers saved by Smith as the Pars looked for a fourth.
1. Graeme Smith
20. Sean Crighton
5. Ryan McGeever
2. Paul McLean (Captain)
12. Chris O’Neil (Euan Spark 71′)
6; James Dale
8. Finn Graham (Liam Watt 81′)
21. Jordan Sinclair
3. Willie Dyer
17. Connor McLennan (Ally Love 62′)
18. Kalvin Orsi
19. Patrick O’Neil (GK)
4. Gary Fusco
7. Ally Love
10. Isaac Layne
11. Liam Watt
15. Euan Spark
1. Sean Murdoch
2. Ryan Williamson
5. Callum Morris (Captain)
6. Lee Ashcroft
14. Jason Talbot
7. Kallum Higginbotham
27. Dean Shiels (Aaron 78′)
8. Nat Wedderburn
12. David Hopkirk (Callum Smith 68′)
9. Declan McManus (Andy Ryan 78′)
10. Nicky Clark
20. Cammy Gill (GK)
3. Lewis Martin
13. Aaron Splaine
16. Andy Ryan
17. Fraser Aird
19. Scott Lochhead
23. Callum Smith
Referee: John McKendrick