By David Buick
A Jonathan Afolabi penalty secured a point for Dunfermline as they drew 1-1 with Queen of the South.
The Pars played host to former manager Allan Johnston and his Queen of the South side as both teams were in need of the points for different reasons in the ever-competitive Championship.
It was the Dumfries side who made the better start and ended up with the opening goal early on as a Gary Oliver strike found the bottom left corner with the help of a deflection off Danny Devine.
Queens threatened again and could easily have made it two with Darren Lyon’s low effort going just wide. Dunfermline did grow into the game and thought they had equalised when a Euan Murray header appeared to have crossed the line, but referee Greig Aitken refuted the appeals from the Pars players and supporters and waved play on.
The Pars did draw level just after half time as the referee adjudged that Ethan Ross was fouled inside the box and awarded a penalty which Afolabi dispatched with aplomb. Neither side were able to find a winner and the game ended up being one of four draws in the Championship on Saturday. Here are three things we learned.
Nisbet proving a big Pars miss
For the second consecutive game Dunfermline were without top scorer Kevin Nisbet, who remained out through injury. With Nisbet out, Dunfermline’s remaining young strikers had only two senior goals between the three of them so the Pars gaffer would have been hoping for his faith in youth to be repaid.
Stevie Crawford opted to start with Lewis McCann partnering Jonathan Afolabi upfront as Gabby McGill dropped to the bench. Dunfermline struggled to create many clear-cut chances throughout the game and looked largely threatening from set pieces. Afolabi did get on the scoresheet from the penalty spot but it was the lack of threat from open play that will be concerning for the Pars support.
Perhaps the biggest chance for the Pars from open play came for McCann who found himself one on one but couldn’t find the back of the net as his shot trickled devastatingly past the post. Crawford will be hoping that his young strikers can find the goalscoring formula in the coming weeks to make up for the loss of their star man.
Thomas the standout for Pars in draw
Having lost Greg Kiltie back to Kilmarnock in January, many fans worried about the hole he would leave in the Dunfermline squad. However, Dom Thomas arriving on loan from Killie has proved to be a fantastic piece of business.
Thomas has performed to a very high level since arriving at East End Park and continued his good form with another solid display. Strong, quick and direct, Thomas was a constant threat throughout to the point that Queens were doubling up on at every opportunity to try and neutralise his threat. Pars supporters will hope its more of the same from Thomas and he can help the Pars have a strong finish to the season.
Championship table gets even tighter
With this game being one of four draws in the Championship, the only victory coming from Alloa as they toppled second place Inverness, the league table continues to get even tighter as the business end of the season approaches.
For Queens, they will be happy with a good point away from home, however, seeing fellow strugglers Partick Thistle and Alloa also get positive results means they have failed to pull themselves away from danger.
For the Pars, everyone around them failed to win, meaning the failure to pick up three points at home doesn’t have the same negative consequences on their promotion play-off bid as they might have expected. This weekend was the perfect example of how the season so far has gone and proves that any team that can put together a run of wins can really positively change their season.