DUNFERMLINE’S good start to the season came to a juddering halt at East End Park yesterday – but it was not without controversy as Pars manager Jim Jefferies pinpointed the surprise award of a penalty to Arbroath with his side 2-1 up and seemingly in command as a turning point in the proceedings.
The visitors’ Alan Cook, pictured, rubbed salt in the Fifers’ wounds – not only by scoring from the spot but also finding the net again on the stroke of half time with what proved to be the goal that settled this unpredictable, but entertaining encounter.
Unsurprisingly Jefferies did not hide his frustration with match referee Stephen Finnie afterwards. “I think everybody in the ground was astounded he gave it,” he asserted. “I’ve watched it on the video and there was no way that it was a penalty kick.” Chris Kane was adjudged to have pushed an opponent and got booked for his troubles, but even Arbroath player-manager Paul Sheerin acknowledged the award was “soft”.
Even more trouble was to follow for Kane as he picked up a second yellow early on in the second half, leaving Dunfermline to try to find a way back into the game with only ten men.
Yet, for all the anguish, this was still a match in which the Fifers were in no small part instrumental in their own downfall through sloppy defending. They gifted the opener to an Arbroath side low in confidence after a winless start to this campaign when Callum Morris lost possession and Steven Milne slotted the ball past Ryan Scully after only eight minutes.
Morris redeemed himself with a headed equaliser and, after scorning a hatful of chances, Shaun Byrne deservedly put the Pars ahead as the interval approached. However, they were then stunned by Cook’s quick-fire brace.
After Kane’s sending off, Dunfermline pressed hard for an equaliser in the second half, but it was Arbroath’s turn to be profligate as they repeatedly broke clear only to fail to find a composed finish.
They had done enough, nevertheless, to secure what was undoubtedly for them a badly needed three points.