Scorers: Cardle (56), Kirk (68, 77)
Bookings: Aberdeen - Langfield
Now just three points behind Hibernian, with three matches to play, they will watch with interest their fellow strugglers today. If Hibs lose to St Mirren, Dunfermline still have something to play for when they visit Easter Road on 7 May. “They are still in the driving seat, but we have maybe given them something to think about,” said Jim Jefferies, the Dunfermline manager. “We have put them under some pressure.”
As if it wasn’t enough that Dunfermline ended their home hoodoo, they humiliated Aberdeen in the process, although Craig Brown’s team contributed to their own downfall with a shambolic second-half performance. They had been in charge of the match until Joe Cardle’s opener was followed by a catalogue of defensive errors.
“It was all about the first goal,” said Jefferies. “It was the first time since I came here that Dunfermline have led. The difference it makes is phenomenal.”
Meaningless though the match was for Aberdeen, there were plenty familiar names out there, with Russell Anderson wearing the captain’s armband in defence and Jamie Langfield continuing his comeback in goal. Not that the latter looked comfortable when his decision to pick up an early passback earned Dunfermline an indirect free kick. After much protesting by Langfield, Paddy Boyle tapped the ball to Martin Hardie, who screwed his shot through a packed box and past the post.
That was the last we saw of Dunfermline in the first half. Jefferies set them up to attack, with Hardie supported by Andy Kirk, Joe Cardle and David Graham, but apart from the usual huffing and puffing, they made little impression.
Aberdeen offered the bigger threat, thanks to the ease with which Josh Magennis and Chris Clark got past the left-back, and the precision of Fraser Fyvie when he had a dead ball at his feet. First, his corner picked out Anderson, who should have done better than head over the bar. Then, his free-kick from outside the box nearly caught Dunfermline by surprise. The inswinging delivery was probably meant for a head, but it drifted on the wind, and Chris Smith had to paw it away for a corner.
As the teams came out for the second half, the public announcer did his best to rouse the crowd, telling them this was “the most important 45 minutes of the season”. Maybe the players were also listening, for within a few minutes of the restart, they had taken the lead. Alex Keddie’s ball into the channel found Cardle, who cut inside Magennis, before slamming his shot under the goalkeeper’s body.
The goal transformed Dunfermline, who suddenly had more purpose in attack. Urged forward by Jefferies on the touchline, they were soon winning a free kick wide on the left. When Cardle swung it into the box, Kirk was given time and space to direct a free header across the line.
Aberdeen well and truly lost the plot with 12 minutes left when fell further behind, thanks to the kind of comical defending that is supposed to be Dunfermline’s trademark. When Langfield fluffed a clearance, the ball fell to Fyvie, whose attempt to pass the ball back to his goalkeeper succeeded only in finding Kirk. The striker, who couldn’t believe his luck, converted from just inside the box.