After a slow start, this William Hill Scottish Cup tie saw five goals in the second-half in what turned out to be a hard-fought win for the Pars, despite the scoreline, thanks to goals from Nicky Clark; Jason Talbot; Andy Ryan and Declan McManus.
Queens Park come into this game on the back of only one win in their last six matches. With suspensions to top scorer Anton Brady and captain Sean Burns and injuries to Kevin Green and Ciaran Summers, it meant Gus MacPherson was forced into four changes from last week’s side that lost at Hampden Park to Arbroath. Lewis Magee, Conor McVey, James MacLennan and David Galt came into the starting line-up as the Spiders looked to cause an upset against their Championship opponents.
Allan Johnston wasn’t tempted to make any changes despite this being their first of three games within the space of seven days.
David Galt faced up against Ryan Williamson in the fourth minute and after getting to the bye-line his cutback was put behind by Morris for the first corner of the game. Millen’s delivery caused problems as Murdoch came out and missed it but the foul was given and the Pars would restart play with a free-kick.
On six minutes, Galt won another corner and his delivery saw Murdoch punch to safety before Ashcroft completed the clearance by conceding a throw-in midway inside his own half.
A 7th minute foul by Higginbotham allowed Fotheringham to swing the ball in. When Cummins laid it back for Galt, his 20-yard effort went way over.
MacLennan picked up an angled ball forward by Gibson and managed to beat Morris for pace. Murdoch was out smart save at the feet of the striker. Up the other end, McManus’ shot from distance was blocked by Cummins as the Fifers struggle to get into the match in the early stages.
It was a 16th minute delivery by Cardle which caused the first chance of the game for the Pars with the away side seeing the cross behind for a corner. Higginbotham’s inswinging delivery was headed back across goal by Ashcroft but his header was cleared off the line before Higginbotham won another corner, which was wasted as it went out for a goal-kick.
Clark done well on the left to hold the ball up and swing a cross in but McManus couldn’t get a shot away under pressure as the ball went out for another goal-kick.
Fotheringham fouled Clark in the centre of the park, 30 yards out and it was Higginbotham over the delivery. It was dinked in for Clark but Morris picked up; his delivery from the right was for Ashcroft but he was penalised by referee McLean.
McManus managed to get the ball under control and fire in another long-range attempt but his effort was well wide of White’s goal. Then, in the next attack, McManus was down the left as Cardle and Cummins bumped into each other off the ball as they jostled for position with Cardle being penalised.
Galt managed to squirm away from Williamson before his delivery hit the post! Ashcroft was on hand to make the decisive clearance from the rebound as the visitors survive once more.
Cardle tried to switch the ball across to Williamson but Galt intercepted on the half-way line. He drove forward before firing in an effort which Murdoch saved down low. McVey’s follow up after being set up by Duff went harmlessly over the bar.
At the other side, Cardle dribbled to the right and his cross found Clark who’s header went just wide of White’s left hand post.
It was a tough opening half for Johnston’s men with the Championship side being unable to find a rhythm consistently enough to cause many problems in the Queens Park defence. Former Par MacPherson will be the happier of the two managers at the break and may even feel unlucky to not being ahead at the break.
Half-Time: Queens Park 0-0 Dunfermline Athletic
No changes at the interval for either side as Dunfermline get the game back underway and it was Nicky CLARK who put the Fifers in front two minutes into the second half. Cardle f
loated in a cross to the back post and Clark was there to head home. 1-0 Dunfermline.
Williamson got to the bye-line in the next attack but his delivery was too close to the keeper who gathered at his near post. Clark then broke free down the right, his cross found McManus who tried an acrobatic effort which came off Cummins before Millen nodded the ball back to White on the goal-line.
On 59 minutes, it was the unlikeliest of goalscorers as Jason TALBOT got his first goal of the season. He was in space, 25-yard-out in the middle of the park and he rifled a left-footed effort past white to double the advantage of Dunfermline. 2-0.
The home side won a free-kick on the left, just a yard or so in from the touchline, around 12 yards out. As it was swung into the near post by Galt, it caused all sorts of issues in the penalty area with the ball nestling into the corner of Murdoch’s net. The goal was credited with Galt although there may well have been a touch before it crossed the line. 2-1 Dunfermline.
Moments later, Nat Wedderburn was replaced by Aaron Splaine as Allan Johnston quickly counter-acted on the Queens Park goal. However, the Spiders almost got an equaliser as the game carried on as Dominic Docherty smashed the ball off the bar from the edge of the area, with Dunfermline being let off again.
MacPherson then took off Docherty and MacLennon, to be replaced by Robbie Letch and William Mortimer. Dunfermline also made another swap as Nicky Clark made way for Andy Ryan who would get the final 20 or so minutes of this cup tie.
The game has become more of a midfield battle since Galt’s 63rd minute strike and neither side were creating too many chances as the game headed into the closing stages.
However, when Morris misplaced a pass Robbie Leitch went clean through on goal. A brilliant recovery tackle from centre-back Lee Ashcroft got the visitors out of trouble and denied the Spiders who almost went 3-1 down moments later as Cardle found space at the edge of the area but he shot wide.
Lewis Martin was then to make his Hampden debut as he entered the field of play replacing Dean Shiels as Dunfermline made a tactical switch, with the natural defender taking up a defensive midfield slot. It paid dividends straight away too as Andy RYAN pounced after White parried an effort with a neat finish from close range to give the Pars a two-goal advantage heading into the final 10 minutes. 3-1 Dunfermline.
As the game edged towards full-time, Declan MCMANUS would get his name on the score-sheet as he fired home from the edge of the area after Cummins had attempted to clear the ball but the former Raith striker pounced on the loose ball to make it 4-1.
Andy Ryan picked up the ball 25-yards out soon after but his ambitious effort went well over the bar before the away side had the ball in the net again through McManus: after Splaine’s shot hit the post, McManus tapped home but the offside flag was up and McLean chopped the goal off before the full-time whistle was blown.
In the end, a convincing score-line for Dunfermline but Queens Park were definitely not overawed by the occasion or the prospect of coming up against full-time, Championship, opponents.
Full-Time: Queens Park 1-4 Dunfermline Athletic
QUEENS PARK: Michael White; Ross Millen, Adam Cummins Lewis Magee, Scott Gibson; Gregor Fotheringham, Conor McVey, Dominic Docherty (Robbie Leitch 67); Christopher Duff, James MacLennan (William Mortimer 67), David Galt.
SUBS NOT USED: Luke Donnelly, Thomas Orr, Jack Iredale, Luke Whelan, William Muir (GK)
SCORERS: Galt (63)
YELLOW CARDS: Gibson (80), Millen (88)
DUNFERMLINE: Sean Murdoch; Ryan Williamson, Callum Morris, Lee Ashcroft, Jason Talbot; Kallum Higginbotham, Dean Shiels (Lewis Martin 77), Nat Wedderburn (Aaron Splaine 63), Joe Cardle; Declan McManus, Nicky Clark (Andy Ryan 71).
SUBS NOT USED: Jean-Yves M’Voto, Fraser Aird, Callum Smith, Cammy Gill (GK)
SCORERS: Clark (48) Talbot (59) Ryan (78) McManus (89)
REFEREE: Steven McLean