Pars keep play-off hopes alive with victory over Queens
Dunfermline earned a massive three points over Queen of the South to keep their name firmly in contention for a promotion playoff spot. Jake Gray reports.
Dunfermline and Queen of the South were both hoping to get back to winning ways with the Pars having not won in their previous seven matches and Queens failing to win in their last three.
There was one change for each team, with Lewis Mayo replacing the injured Pars skipper Euan Murray, while Isaiah Jones came into the Queens starting 11 in place of Aidan Fitzpatrick.
It was the Pars who started this one on the front foot. Dom Thomas had the first effort of the match after he picked the ball up on the half-way line and drove towards the Queens goal, but Rohan Ferguson was on hand to deny the wide man.
Thomas was proving too hot to handle for the Queens back line, and just one minute later he cut inside, and his effort was parried into the path of Kevin O’Hara who tapped home to make it 1-0 to the hosts.
Queens then started to find a foothold in the game, however the Pars found a way to create another chance for themselves. O’Hara slotted the ball through to Declan McManus who found himself in on goal, but he couldn’t get enough power behind his effort and it was saved comfortably by Ferguson.
Queens may feel hard done by following two contentious penalty claims. The ball appeared to strike a Dunfermline hand following a scramble in the box and, just moments later, Vytas Gaspuitis was lucky to get away with bringing down Ayo Obileye inside the area.
Owain Fon-Williams ensured Dunfermline went into the break a goal to the good after he blocked a Connor Shields effort and, from the subsequent corner, pulled off another outstanding save to deny Obileye.
Queens looked a much improved outfit at the start of the second half. However, it was the home side who threatened first. Craig Wighton waltzed past the Doonhamers back line but was denied by Ferguson and Aaron Comrie’s effort from the rebound was well wide.
Obileye found himself in acres of space at the edge of the Pars box and fired towards goal, but his effort was just wide of the target. Moments later, Fon-Williams rushed off his line to clear the ball, but he fired it off his own player, Josh Edwards, and it sailed over his goal, much to the relief of the Welshman.
Both teams limited each other to few chances for much of the second half. However, the Pars doubled their lead in the 81st minute when Thomas twisted and turned his way past the Queens defence and set up Fraser Murray who slotted home to make it 2-0.
With just four minutes to play, the away side gave themselves a lifeline after James Maxwell slotted past Fon-Williams from close range. However, Ewan Henderson was on hand to ensure all three points stayed at East End Park. O’Hara beat Ferguson to the ball and looked likely to slot into an empty net, but Ferguson rushed back, and O’Hara played the ball to Thomas who unselfishly found Henderson to make it 3-1 to the Pars.
Dunfermline manager Stevie Crawford praised his team after a tough run of performances:
“Results wise it’s been tough for a number of weeks, so I’m delighted we were on the front foot today. We’ve scored three good goals; won the game and we’ve just got to take that into next week now against Arbroath.
“I’m not one for singling players out, but Dom Thomas was magnificent today. For a boy that plays in a wide role, some of the stuff he done today was outstanding. Credit to the boys, as a team they gave him (Thomas) the opportunity to do that today.”
Queens manager Allan Johnston shared his frustrations following the defeat:
“It’s definitely frustrating, but to be fair to Dunfermline I thought they started really well. They got an early goal through good skill from Dom Thomas, who was probably the difference between the teams today.
“We started to get back into the game and create chances of our own. You could see they (Dunfermline) were a bit nervy, and we thought that was an opportunity to come back but it wasn’t to be because we’re still losing poor goals.”
The Pars welcome Arbroath to East End Park next weekend as they look to keep their place in the play-offs, while Queen of the South travel to face Ayr United at Somerset Park.