By David Buick
Dunfermline fell to their fourth consecutive defeat as Ayr United climbed to third with a 1-0 victory at East End Park.
Dunfermline started well and looked very lively in the opening exchanges, with Greg Kiltie at the heart of most of the Pars’ positive play. Kevin Nisbet went close for Dunfermline with a low shot saved well by the feet of Ross Doohan and Kyle Turner also had a big chance for the Pars as his crossed free kick evaded everyone and hit the far post.
The Honest Men took the lead just before half time through Craig Moore who diverted an Alan Forrest effort past Ryan Scully.
The second half was a frustrating one for the Dunfermline supporters as the Pars really struggled to cause Ayr any problems and Mark Kerr’s men were more than comfortable in seeing out the win. Here are three things we learned.
Big win for Ayr reaffirms their play-off credentials.
Kerr’s Ayr side have been in a bit of a sticky patch in recent weeks with only one win in seven games heading into the encounter at East End Park.
A stretched squad and a having to replace the incredibly successful Ian McCall was always going to be a tough task for Kerr, and his first couple of months in the job had proved to be just that. The Ayr supporters will be delighted with this victory and be hopeful that their side can really kick on now and secure a finish in the play-offs.
Ayr looked very comfortable at the back, in the second half especially, and with the talents of Stephen Kelly and Alan Forrest they always looked a threat on the counter. The Honest Men are now up to third and are now looking up the table towards Inverness in second rather than looking at those below them trying to catch them for a play-off place.
Lack of creativity costs the Pars for the second week running
Dunfermline’s poor results so far this season have usually been down to defensive errors and conceding too many goals. However, in the past two games, the defeats to Alloa and Ayr, Dunfermline’s main issue has been running out of attacking ideas when chasing a game.
Ayr, like Alloa a week prior, took a first half lead and seemed relatively content to sit in and try and protect that lead. The Pars resorted to long balls up to Nisbet and McCann in the second half but there was very little real creative play, which was a vast difference to the first half where the Pars looked very lively.
Frustratingly for the second week in the row, Stevie Crawford’s substitutes did nothing to help find a way back in to the game for the Pars. The decision to move Kiltie to the left of midfield to allow for Lewis McCann to join Nisbet up front completely stifled Kiltie’s impact on the game.
Dunfermline will need to put in some work on the training ground to ensure that they can find a way to be more creative against defensive teams in the coming weeks otherwise teams will see playing defensive football against Dunfermline as an effective way of getting a result against the Pars.
January looking like a potentially problematic month for Dunfermline
A fourth consecutive defeat for the Pars leaves Stevie Crawford’s men just three points above the relegation playoffs with a trip to ninth place Morton next weekend.
Morton are just off the back of a big win at Arbroath and given Dunfermline’s poor record at Cappielow, next weekend could be a real tricky one for Dunfermline. It also looks likely that Dunfermline will be losing loan players Harry Cochrane, and Anthony McDonald back to Hearts and there is also a chance that Kiltie could be recalled by Kilmarnock.
Losing these loan players will further stretch an already thin squad and leave Crawford with some recruitment to do this month. Crawford will be desperately hoping to find a way to get his side’s form back on track.