Despite their respective league positions in Division One, this one could be said to have gone by the form book.
Hamilton Acad - May 51; Routledge 61
Dunfermline have had a right old miserable time of it of late and this sore one doesn’t make things any better for the financially ailing club.
Hamilton, with only one defeat in their last seven outings, looked every bit a side on the up and they eventually prevailed in this tie with some style thanks to quite majestic second-half strikes from Stevie May and Jon Routledge.
While every side is looking for the potential cash injection that comes from a decent cup run in these trying times for the Scottish game, few were probably craving it more than the Fifers, with news emerging last week that, once again, they had only been able to part pay their players wages.
A crowd of just over 2,500 at East End Park yesterday won’t have boosted the coffers that much but the bigger blow was clearly in seeing their aspirations for a quarter-final place being brushed aside by a disciplined Accies side who grew in confidence as the game went on.
“I’ve asked the players whether the financial situation at the club is affecting them,” confessed Jim Jefferies, the Dunfermline manager, “and they said it isn’t, but not that convincingly.
“Otherwise, I don’t think there was much in the game today, but the first goal was always going to be important and they got it with a great strike from the lad May”.
His opposite number, Billy Reid, shared the view that it was it was tightly contested, but only up to a point.
“I thought the first half was quite even, with the pitch being solid through the middle,” he said.
“We spoke about having a Plan B as the game progressed and trying to turn them a bit more often. I thought we started the second half really well and, after we got the goals, I thought we played some smashing football”.
It was certainly a cagey opening 45 minutes and, with chances at a premium, the chief talking point was the one that got away for the visitors.
Under pressure from Jon Routledge, home goalkeeper Paul Gallagher nearly tripped over the ball after receiving a pass-back. If that was comical the red face was mainly for the Hamilton midfielder, as somehow he failed to execute a simple finish after May had gathered up the loose ball and squared it back to him only six yards from goal. His sorry trundling effort was gleefully thumped away by Callum Morris.
The youngster would later have the last laugh by getting on the scoresheet and he could take solace, as even the normally dependable May took a while to find his bearings.
The on-loan St Johnstone striker got his timing all wrong when the ball was played into his path with a clear view on goal but he failed to get a touch to it with the second half just minutes old.
More and more possession was coming the Lanarkshire side’s way and they topped it off with May’s exquisite strike to get their noses in front after 51 minutes. Picking up a throw in down the left flank, he moved infield before crashing a screaming 30-yard drive into the net off the underside of the crossbar.
Accies didn’t take long to compound the misery for the struggling Fifers, with Routledge managing to demonstrate that he can put away a decent chance by blasting home from the edge of the box in some style after picking up a lay-off from Louis Longridge.
“I said to Jon at half-time not let his miss worry him and he didn’t – he’s made up for it with a smashing finish” insisted Reid.
Despite their woes, there was plenty of effort from the Pars to try to get a foothold back in the game.
Andy Kirk saw a shot hit the post and the same player just didn’t have enough time to adjust and capitalise as a Kevin Cuthbert save ricocheted off his chest.
There was to be no way back in this game, however, something the home fans plainly recognised as they exited in numbers in advance of full time.
Dunfermline: Gallacher; Millen (Thomson 69), Morris, Dowie, McMillan; Falkingham, Husband, Byrne (Whittle 55), Cardle; Kirk, Wallace (Dargo 82).
Hamilton: NCuthbert; Gordon, Canning, Page, Hendrie; Neil; Crawford, MacKinnon, Routledge, Longridge; May (Ryan 87).
Referee: J Beaton. Attendance: 2,588.