St Mirren 1 - 0 Dunfermline Athletic: Buddies take top spot

St Mirren's Cammy Smith celebrates his opening goal. Picture: SNS/Roddy Scott
St Mirren's Cammy Smith celebrates his opening goal. Picture: SNS/Roddy Scott
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This encounter between the two highest scoring sides in the Championship turned out to be more of slow burning battle of attrition – not that St Mirren will be unduly perturbed as a solitary strike from Cammy Smith in the opening 45 minutes was enough to send them back to the top of the table. It was certainly a game where Jack Ross’s side proved that they can dig in and grind out a win which isn’t the worst attribute to have when you are chasing promotion.

A couple of hotly contested decisions by match referee Craig Charleston apart, where he could have sent off Dunfermline goalkeeper Sean Murdoch for a challenge on Gavin Reilly outside the box and then reversed a decision to award the visitors a penalty in the second half, this was not a game that did much to ward off the deep winter chill.

For Ross understandably it was all about getting the three points however. “I’ve always said that at this stage of the season it’s all about winning matches. I was pleased with our first-half performance and the resilience we showed in the second.”

St Mirren prevailed principally through their clever probing of the Dunfermline rearguard in the opening 45 minutes. More than once they managed to thread balls through their opponents’ brittle looking high line and Charleston had the Saints supporters imploring him to show Murdoch a red card after he upended Reilly as he raced towards goal. In the end only a yellow was held aloft and the resultant free-kick was squandered but it was a portent of things to come.

Murdoch intervened in a more positive way shortly after by palming away a powerful header from Reilly, but just when it looked like it was heading for stalemate at half-time another quick break by the hosts saw Ian McShane’s cutback ushered to Smith on the six-yard line and he slid the ball into the net.

Pleasing though this was for St Mirren they ought to have added a second just before the break as Reilly got his co-ordinates all wrong when presented with a golden chance to lob the ball over Murdoch.

It all contributed to a keenly contested second half as Dunfermline went on to show a good deal more adventure and urgency.

They must have thought their moment had come as Williamson went over in the St Mirren box following a challenge from Adam Eckersley and Charleston pointed to the spot. However, after furious protests from the home players and a lengthy consultation with his assistant he changed his mind and awarded a free kick to the hosts.

Dunfermline continued to dominate possession despite this disappointment but they rarely got round to seriously troubling Craig Samson in the Saints goal and ending their winless run which now extends to seven games.