Dunfermline lost yesterday’s battle with Hamilton but could take a huge stride towards winning their financial war in the coming week.
Scorers: Dunfermline Athletic - Thomson 36; Husband 65 pen; Hamilton Academical - McShane 2; Devlin 57; Canning 77
The Pars came out the wrong side of a five-goal encounter as Alex Neil enjoyed a winning start in his maiden game as interim Accies manager.
Dunfermline’s attention now turns to a momentous week off the pitch. On Tuesday, they will learn if they are to face a points deduction and, just two days later, veteran troubleshooter Bryan Jackson will ask the Court of Session to rubber-stamp the club’s descent into administration.
Had it not been for the imminent Hampden hearing, yesterday’s result would have been a mere footnote.
But, with only a 13-point gap on Cowdenbeath, who occupy the relegation play-off place, the embattled Fife outfit are in serious danger of being dragged into a nail-biting fight to avoid dropping a rung.
“It’s the harsh realities of it if you are to be punished,” said Pars manager Jim Jefferies, who lost seven players through enforced redundancies last week.
“If you are to go down, a lot more of them would lose their jobs. It’s not their fault that they’re in the position they’re in. I don’t want to sound negative because there has been a lot of positivity about the club in the last week or so. The players will get punished if they go down; some more could lose their jobs, you could go part-time, you just never know.”
The sound of the stadium announcer admitting there would be a five minute delay to kick-off to allow fans to get in was a result in itself for a club desperate for cash.
On a sunny day, volunteers jangled donation buckets and a healthy attendance of 4,697 – just short of the targeted 5,000 – added to the sense that there could be light at the end of the tunnel. “It would have been nice if we had got a win for them today because maybe more would come back,” added Jefferies.
But Hamilton – in their first game since manager Billy Reid’s midweek departure after nearly eight years in the dugout – were not so charitable, taking the lead inside two minutes.
Ali Crawford floated a free-kick into the six-yard area and Jon McShane somehow found space in a congested box to head in from close range.
But the hosts levelled nine minutes before the break. Ross Millen, whose corner came back to him, whipped in a cross that deflected off McShane and Ryan Thomson positioned himself to nod the looping delivery into the net from three yards.
Club legend Jim Leishman addressed the crowd during the recess to express his gratitude for the frenzied fund-raising efforts and ended with the message: “Whatever happens on Tuesday, the most important thing is that Dunfermline are here next season.”
When the action resumed, Hamilton restored their lead in the 57th minute. Another Crawford free-kick into the area caused problems and this time Michael Devlin angled a header into the corner of the net.
Dunfermline summoned the spirit that has seen the players battle through seemingly endless wages turmoil by fighting back once more.
Michael Canning was adjudged to have been holding on to Callum Morris when Millen arched a set-piece into the area and Stephen Husband powered a penalty past Kevin Cuthbert in the 65th minute.
But Canning atoned by netting the winner. Substitute Lois Longridge’s cross made it all the way to the back post and the centre-half placed his shot past Michal Hrivnak.
“It’s great to get off to a good start,” said Neil. “It was more stressful looking on than playing.”