A cagey first half played out as both teams looked for more cutting edge in the second. Stevie Crawford’s side got that through a Euan Murray seven minutes into the half before Fraser Murray finished things 73 minutes in via a glancing header. The best was to come seven minutes from the end as he planted a beautiful free-kick top corner.
Whilst visiting Dunfermline have enjoyed a great start in the League Cup group stages, beating Dumbarton 1-0 and Falkirk 2-0, Alex Dyer’s side have had Covid problems to contend with. They had to forfeit their opener against Falkirk 3-0, automatically putting them on the backfoot in Group E.
A week on from that and they were in a position to play, albeit with very few senior players. Nicke Kabamba, Gary Dicker, Colin Doyle, Brandon Haunstrup, Rory McKenzie and Chris Burke was all they had, the rest youngsters.
It was set to be an interesting night, given Killie have spent most of the last couple of weeks in isolation. It was them who had the big chance early on, youngster Kenny Sloan unable to put Kabamba through on goal with Owain Fon Williams.
Dunfermline were next, Declan McManus going close with an effort inside the box 20 minutes in. Overall the first 25 were cagey, both teams seemingly trying to figure each other out.
It was the running theme during the opening 45, a midfield scrap ensuing in large spells. Whilst solid in defence, something would need to change in attack to avoid spot kicks in this one.
And it was a familiar combination which handed the Pars a 52nd minute lead. Dom Thomas had set Euan Murray up for two goals on Friday and he did so again in Ayrshire, a sweet Thomas free-kick meeting the Pars skipper’s head as Crawford’s team took the lead.
Dunfermline were certainly in the ascendency and Thomas was causing his previous team serious problems, bursting down the left and forcing Doyle into a brilliant save. Killie weren’t out of it yet though, Burke going very close with a speculative 30-yard effort.
A Fraser Murray header would end this one. McManus swung a brilliant ball into the box, which Dunfermline’s Hibs loanee met perfectly to double his side’s advantage 17 minutes from time.
The Hibs loanee would have an even better moment to savour after 83 minutes. Lining up a free-kick from roughly 30 yards out, it flew past Doyle as Crawford’s men finished a strong second half well.
Killie just had too much to do deal with in the second half as Dyer’s depleted side were beaten by a Pars side hitting good form ahead of the Championship season. Here are three things we learned.
Whilst there were notable absentees for Killie in this one, they certainly didn’t lack quality in their XI given the circumstances. Key men in Burke, Dicker, Kabamba and McKenzie alongside senior pros like Haunstrup and keeper Doyle featured.
They had enough experience in the XI but overall the effects of the last few weeks perhaps took their toll, youngsters like Stephen Warnock also impressing on the night.
A familiar feeling
Dunfermline had a carbon copy of their two goals on Friday come to fruition at Rugby Park. Again Thomas’ crosses were causing havoc and again Murray was able to get on the end of on.
It’s further proof that Dunfermline’s former Killie winger will be a real danger in the Championship whilst their skipper is proving useful at both ends.
Pars take control
It’s been a fantastic start to the season for Dunfermline, winning all three of their League Cup games. It all but secures them last 16 qualification from Group E ahead of a tie with League One Clyde next month.
A win for Falkirk over the Bully Wee keeps them in second whilst Kilmarnock’s hopes of qualification shrunk after their Bairns forfeit was followed up by a Pars defeat.