This comprehensive victory against ten-man Cowdenbeath was more than just a place in the next round of the League Cup for Dunfermline and their supporters. This win represented the beginning of what they hope will be a new, successful chapter and break away from an unpleasant recent history. Furthermore, it was about revenge. Long-awaited, cathartic revenge.
Last season, Dunfermline suffered through a humiliating League One campaign. Tipped by almost everyone to run the division, they instead limped from one on-field humbling to another and somehow failed to even make the play-offs.
Such embarrassment would have been avoided had things gone a little differently at the end of the previous season, when Cowdenbeath visited in the second leg of the play-off final and wiped the floor with the hosts in a 3-0 win. Yesterday’s match represented the first time the teams had met since, with the travelling support quick to remind the hosts of past anguish with chants of “3-0 to the Cowden” prior to kick-off. Then the Dunfermline players went about keeping them quiet.
Of course, one match in the opening round of the League Cup does not make up for play-off final heartache, but if Dunfermline’s dominance in this game can be repeated over the course of the season it could be a case of death by a thousand paper cuts for their League One title rivals.
“I’m delighted by the performance and to score so many goals,” said new Pars manager Allan Johnston. “Disappointed to lose one but you’ve got to look at the positives. Even in the first half we could have scored three or four goals. It was a big crowd today because it was a derby as well and we didn’t want to disappoint them. They were obviously disappointed with what happened last year so we want to get them onside and play some attractive football as well.”
On the balance of play the only thing surprising about the win was that it took Dunfermline until the second half to score. Michael Moffat and Faissal El Bakhtaoui looked a promising partnership over the piece, but both were guilty of spurning gilt-edged chances in the first half. Moffat fired wide from a central position a yard inside the area, while El Bakhtaoui skewed a close-range effort wide from an angle.
Rather than allow frustration to get the better of them, the hosts stepped up a gear after the half and found the breakthrough when El Bakhtaoui lashed home from 16 yards after being found by Joe Cardle. Eight minutes later Shaun Byrne doubled the scoring after being granted time and space to shoot from the edge of the area, where he drove low past Michael Andrews.
Less than two minutes later Cowdenbeath briefly stunned the raucous home crowd with their only bright moment in the game. It was a shame for scorer Declan Hughes that his superb side-volley came in such a miserable occasion.
The game was done as a contest when substitute Ryan Wallace, brought on for his pace on the counter, tore away behind the defence and drew a challenge from goalkeeper Andrews. Referee George Salmond showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot and producing a red card. Wallace took the penalty himself and sent substitute stopper Jamie Sneddon the wrong way.
The hosts continued to attack with a verve that indicated they would have happily played all night and Byrne soon netted his second when he headed in a Michael Paton cross. El Bakhtaoui completed the rout when he slalomed his way infield from the left before placing his side-footed shot into the far corner.
Dunfermline: Murdoch, Williamson, Fordyce, Richards-Everton, Martin, Paton, Geggan, Byrne (Falkingham 79), Cardle (Hopkirk 77), Moffat (Wallace 66), El Bakhtaoui. Subs not used: Hutton, Thomas, Spence, Potter.
Cowdenbeath: Andrews, Brett, J Armstrong, Donaldson, Yaqub, Orritt (Kane 24), Milne, Hughes, Johnston (Sneddon 73), Spence, L Armstrong (Nish 61). Subs not used: Adamson, Scullion, Miller, Callaghan.
Referee: Andrew Dallas. Attendance: 2,756.