Do or die for Pars after Highlands heartache
Published 3 May 2012 09:30 0 Comments
Inverness 0 Dunfermline 0
PARS will be relegated on Monday if they fail to beat Hibs after drawing a blank in the Highlands last night.
Try as they might, they couldn't find a goal at Inverness while the Edinburgh side won in Aberdeen to stretch the gap to five points with two games left.
Last season's promotion hero, Martin Hardie, almost rescued the Pars with a late, late strike while Alex Keddie missed a good chance to break the deadlock with a header.
They must now beat Hibs in the live TV showdown at Easter Road and win their final match at home to Kilmarnock on Saturday 12th May to have any chance of staying in the SPL.
But even if they take maximum points from the two must-win matches, and barring a huge swing in goal difference, they'll drop down to the first division if Pat Fenlon's men avoid defeat at Inverness on the same day.
The Highlands capital was the graveyard for Pars survival hopes in 2007, defeat there condemned Stephen Kenny's side to relegation, and a draw last night at the same venue has left them staring into the abyss.
Current boss Jim Jefferies' stated intention was to go all out for the win but he also bolstered his defence by bringing back both Jordan McMillan and Austin McCann.
David Graham was first to threaten with a shot comfortably saved by Ryan Esson but it was Chris Smith - back at the venue of his Scottish Cup nightmare - that kept Pars in it with a fine save from a Steve Williams header.
McCann then survived a penalty shout when the ref judged he hadn't fouled Aaron Doran in the box, despite the howls from the home fans.
After hitting seven goals in their previous two matches, there were high hopes that the strikers would fire Pars to safety but there wasn't a lot to excite the travelling faithful.
Andy Kirk had three goals from his last two games but was largely snuffed out by the Caley rearguard, although loan star Kyle Hutton crashed a good ball across goal with no takers.
The midfielder was then teed up by Joe Cardle in 34 minutes but couldn't beat Esson.
Inverness had chances too and Smith breathed a sigh of relief when Doran dallied and Graeme Shinnie miscued his shot in 49 minutes.
Cardle and McMillan peppered the Caley box with crosses but it should have been the home side that netted, Shinnie missing a golden opportunity when he fired wide of the post.
Hardie replaced Gary Mason with just over 20 minutes left but again it was Inverness who could have made the breakthrough, Doran just failing to get a strong connection on Greg Tansey's teasing cross.
Keddie connected with Cardle's inswinging free kick in 74 minutes but his looping header landed on the roof of the net, minutes before Esson managed to block a fierce half volley from Hardie.
The veteran midfielder all but secured the first division title last season with a free kick against Raith Rovers and it was set up for another momentous dead ball strike when Richie Foran fouled.
From 30 yards out, and the clock approaching 90 minutes, Hardie lined up his kick but there was no glory this time as the ball cleared the bar.
Esson, Meekings, Williams, Tokely, G Shinnie (A Shinnie 71), Ross (Sutherland 71), Tansey, Gillet, Foran, Doran, McKay (Tade 88).
Subs not used - Tuffey, Piermayr, Golobart, Tudor-Jones.
Booked - Foran (74).
Smith, McMillan, Dowie, Keddie, McCann, Graham (Barrowman 84), Mason (Hardie 67), Kerr, Hutton, Cardle, Kirk (Buchanan 84).
Subs not used - Fernandez, Willis, Boyle, Thomson.
Booked - McMillan (64), Keddie (73).
Referee - Stevie O'Reilly
This article appeared in Dunfermline Press 03 May 12