Dunfermline Athletic 3 - 3 Aberdeen: Late goals salvage point for Dons

ANYONE at East End Park attempting, on witnessing yesterday’s disjointed, wind-afflicted first-half, to push the notion that this match would end up a six-goal thriller with Dunfermline aggrieved at only taking a point, would have been wheeled out the two-thirds-empty stadium in a straitjacket.

In the end, however, they’d have been emphatically vindicated as the hosts overturned a one-goal first-half deficit to race 3-1 ahead with 20 minutes left. Aberdeen’s fans were hurling venom as their team, on top for much of the first half, imploded spectacularly. However, Craig Brown’s side, who were in danger of slipping to the foot of the table, found some resolve – albeit with the aid of a lifeline thrown their way in the shape of Alex Keddie’s own goal.

The Pittodrie side, in an instant, were transformed from aimless to purposeful as, simultaneously, Dunfermline’s self-assurance was replaced by fear and fragility. As the visitors pressed, it was little surprise when Josh Magennis, an earlier target of the Dons boo boys when he skied a great chance at 2-1 down, made amends with a superb low drive from just inside the box two minutes from the end, sparking delirium among the away support.

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The travelling fans, praised to the hilt afterwards by Brown for staying to the end, had “sucked the ball towards the goal”, according to the manager. Despite the previously unforeseen drama, however, both sides were unable to shake off their unwanted records. Dunfermline remain without a home win in the SPL and the Dons without a success on the road. Kamikaze defending was the main reason neither side were able to rid themselves of their respective hoodoos. Brown described his team’s defending early in the second half as “unacceptable”, while his Dunfermline counterpart Jim McIntyre cut a forlorn figure as he lamented “carelessness” and a failure to get “the basics” right. Inverness are the only side sitting beneath these two in the table and, despite attacking enterprise from both teams at various junctures, it’s easy to see why.

The first half was wretched, albeit a fair portion of the blame for this could easily be apportioned to the conditions. Indeed the awkwardness of the first half from a spectators’ point of view was encapsulated in a passage of play after just three minutes which saw Dunfermline goalkeeper Paul Gallacher kick the ball the full length of the park to his opposite number David Gonzalez, who in turn rolled the ball straight out of play when trying to set right-back Ryan Jack off and running. Hard to be overly critical of the players given the howling wind, but this was not easy on the eye, nonetheless.

From then on, Aberdeen enjoyed much the better of the play in the lead-up to the break, with the fleet-footed teenager Fraser Fyvie, doing most to try and make things happen. That said, arguably his most memorable moment of the half came when he had to hold the ball in the quadrant, while colleague Rob Milsom attempted to take a corner.

The game, at this stage, was that uninspiring. However, a much-needed injection of life arrived in the dying embers of the first half. Two minutes into stoppage time to be precise, Fyvie pinged a corner to the back post and Andrew Considine was perfectly placed to plant a powerful header beyond Gallacher, the last act of the half.

At that point, there was little hint of the frolics to come, but maximum credit to Dunfermline for the relentless fashion in which they converted a one-goal deficit into a 3-1 lead. The equaliser arrived nine minutes after the break when Andy Barrowman thumped home at the second attempt after his original header from a Paul Willis corner had been clawed out by Gonzalez. Then, in 62 minutes, David Graham ran at the heart of the Aberdeen defence before drilling an excellent low strike beyond Gonzalez from 20 yards out.

Aberdeen had a great chance to level six minutes later but Magennis blazed over an open goal from around 15 yards after being teed up by Youl Mawene. And Aberdonian despair intensified just a minute later as Liam Buchanan, who had just come on for the Pars, slammed home with his first touch after Paddy Boyle’s effort had been parried into his path by Gonzalez.

As East End Park went tonto and Barrowman saw an effort, which would have made it 4-1, pushed on to a post by Gonzalez, it was difficult to envisage the Pars not ending the afternoon with their home hoodoo banished.

But, then again, we hadn’t factored in the possibility of Keddie mistiming his jump and heading a Milsom corner into his own net with ten minutes left. Or that Magennis might redeem himself with a fine finish two minutes from the end.

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Little for either manager to crow about afterwards, but magnificent drama nonetheless.