Dunfermline Press

Injuries dampen victory

- By Ross Hart Reporter rhart@dunfermlin­epress.co.uk

SUPER SUB Craig Wighton grabbed a double to help Dunfermlin­e return to winning ways against Arbroath but admitted he was “gutted” for luckless team-mate Kane Ritchie-Hosler.

The Pars number nine, who has previously had two loan spells with the Red Lichties, came off the bench to notch his fourth and fifth goals of the campaign as his side eased to a 3-0 win on Tuesday night.

After a drab opening period, full-back Josh Edwards scored his second goal of the season three minutes after the restart to put James McPake’s side ahead, before instinctiv­e play from Wighton saw him net twice inside the final 20 minutes.

Just a second win in eight across all competitio­ns, as well as a first clean sheet since a win at Queen’s Park in mid-September, was the perfect response to Friday’s derby defeat to Raith Rovers in the Scottish Cup, whilst sending them up to fourth in the Championsh­ip table.

However, the victory was soured with injuries to Ritchie-Hosler, Owen Moffat and Sam Fisher, as well as to Arbroath’s Michael McKenna, who was stretchere­d off in the 15th minute of time added on, when referee, Ross Hardie, blew for time up.

A stretcher was also needed for Ritchie-Hosler who, minutes after Edwards opened the scoring, went down with what McPake confirmed post-match was a dislocated shoulder.

Play was stopped for around seven minutes as the popular winger was attended to, and his latest injury comes after overcoming surgery on both his ankle and knee so far this season.

“Sometimes that happens in football, one thing after another. We’re gutted for him,” Wighton said.

“He’s such a big player for us and we saw the impact he had last year, so we’re gutted with that, but it’s a chance for someone else to come in and hopefully kick-on.

“We’re disappoint­ed for him. It doesn’t look great. There’s a couple of other niggles as well, so hopefully those boys are fine for the weekend, and we’ve got a fully fit squad, other than Kane.

“We’ll need to wait and see.” After a first half in which off-target headers from Fisher and Lewis McCann were Dunfermlin­e’s best moments, they started the second strongly and were quickly rewarded.

Ritchie-Hosler started the chain of events that led to the goal, sliding a nice ball for McCann inside the box on the right.

His shot was blocked, and as the rebound fell to Todd, he was sent sprawling to the ground, although referee, Ross Hardie, wasn’t interested in a penalty award.

Moffat remained alert, though, latching on to the loose ball to shoot, which Arbroath keeper Derek Gaston beat out, but only to Edwards, who finished well.

The home side’s joy was soon tempered by Ritchie-Hosler’s injury, whilst Moffat and then Fisher, with an ankle knock, were then also substitute­d.

Dunfermlin­e, to their credit, didn’t let it affect them and Wighton

- who had replaced Matty Todd - would ensure three points would be theirs.

Aaron Comrie, sent on for Ritchie-Hosler, supplied a cross from the right that Edwards met with a header and, after Gaston couldn’t hold, Wighton was there to bundle in.

The Pars created other chances, and could have more goals, but a third arrived in the 90th minute.

After the Smokies’ Ricky Little jumped for, and missed, a Dunfermlin­e throw-in, McCann was able to run in on goal and shoot.

Although Gaston saved, he couldn’t gather the ball, allowing Wighton to pounce and poke home and seal three vital points.

“Back to winning ways. It’s three points,” McPake said.

“In the first half, it was a stuffy game. I know we had a lot of the ball, top end of the pitch, as a team, we were a bit static.

“We never asked enough questions of them, although we had real control in the game. Second half, as a team, from start I thought our movement was better, our runs in behind were better, and decisions were better.

“It was a deserved three points. We could’ve had more goals but, to get three points in any game in this league, we’re delighted, and it gets us back to winning ways.

“After the Raith game, the first thing on your mind is you are delighted that you have a game so quickly, but you need to go and win that game. We did it.

“Credit to the players for that, and I do think overall it was a decent performanc­e off the back of that.

“There were a lot of positional changes, personnel changes during the game and they adapted to that and it was a comfortabl­e evening.”

 ?? Image: Craig Brown. ?? Josh Edwards scores the opening goal.
Image: Craig Brown. Josh Edwards scores the opening goal.
 ?? Image: Craig Brown. ?? Craig Wighton scored twice for the Pars.
Image: Craig Brown. Craig Wighton scored twice for the Pars.

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