The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition)
BelowPar butFifeside takepoints
ONTHE face of it, it was a highly-satisfying afternoon for Dunfermline as Ross Millen’s last-gasp penalty gave them a first win in five games and booked their place in the promotion play-offs.
Scratch beneath the surface, though, and it was less than convincing.
While home fans no doubt felt their 90th- minute spot- kick, for Steven Jackson’s challenge on Allan Smith, was of the stonewall variety, it must have seemed soft to Brechin supporters.
To add insult to injury, City had been the better side for long periods of the match and only fine goalkeeping from Ryan Scully held them at bay.
Two supreme efforts in a six-day period against the division’s big boys, Rangers and Dunfermline, have yielded zero points and Brechin are now locked in a relegation dogfight with Airdrie and East Fife.
At the other end of the table, the Pars can potentially clinch second place at Airdrie this weekend, but they are limping rather than sprinting towards the finishing line.
It was even rumoured that players had been threatened with extra training at eight o’clock yesterday morning in the event of another sub-standard display.
Millen’s expertly- taken penalty, ignoring the pressure to send goalkeeper Graeme Smith the wrong way, perhaps averted that, and it was the perfect moment to score his first goal of the season.
“I missed my last penalty, so I just took my time, picked my spot and tried to hit the ball as cleanly as possible. Fortunately, it went in,” he said.
“It was good to get the monkey off our backs and get the three points.
“I thought it was deserved although hats off to Scully in goal. He’s a very good keeper and shot-stopper and we could have been behind if not for him.
“We still need another three points to clinch second place, so we have to keep going before we can think about taking our foot off the gas a little.”
Scully’s heroics had denied Jackson and Gerry McLauchlan at the end of a first half in which the best chances fell to the visitors.
But Dunfermline — with a few choice comments from boss Jim Jefferies no doubt ringing in their ears — were transformed after the break and quickly fashioned a high-quality opening goal when the outstanding Faissal El Bakhtaoui crossed for Lawrence Shankland to flick home at the near post.
Despite strenuous efforts, a second goal was not forthcoming and the visitors equalised on the hour mark with a sublime one-touch passing move rounded off by Bobby Barr’s backheel and Robert Thomson’s emphatic finish.
Thomson was a constant threat to his former employers with his willingness to chase lost causes.
Having equalised with his left foot, Thomson then bamboozled the home defence with a clever spin before firing in a stinging right-foot drive which Scully managed to push away.