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Dunfermline Athletic’s Under 20s coasted through to the next round of the SFA Youth Cup on Sunday 25th November with a straightforward win over Montrose FC at East End Park. The 10-0 scoreline in no way flatters the young Pars, and indeed had it not been for some outstanding shot stopping and reflex saves from the Montrose ‘keeper the result may have been even more embarrassing for the young men from Angus.
It was typical November weather – Tupperware skies, light to lashing rain and faint hope that the sun would ever show its face again. The Auld Grey Toun of Dunfermline can seldom have looked more grey. Against the odds then, as the teams ran out, the rain stopped and the sun did its best to banish the gloom. It succeeded for the Fife boys, but I suspect it would have been a long trip home for their opponents, only reinstated to the competition at the 11th hour after Annan Athletic forfeited the tie, having fielded unregistered players in the previous round.
Almost straight from kick-off the Pars were on the attack, Dean Easton in the Montrose goal saving superbly low to his right from Blair Henderson after only 2 minutes, following good build up work from Alex Whittle. Henderson and Whittle were already working very well together, and joined by Allan Smith in outstanding, short, crisp passing to feet, Dunfermline’s superiority was such that you felt it was only a matter of time before the earnest Montrose defence cracked under the pressure. On 11 minutes they did finally crack, and almost inevitably it was Alex Whittle who burst through the heart of the Montrose midfield and defence to slot low to Dean Easton’s left and give the Pars the lead they deserved.
Montrose were sitting very deep indeed, midfield and defence almost together, and when they did win the ball they had only the solitary figure of Adam McWilliam to aim for. Adam was well marshalled by the Dunfermline centre backs and wasn’t getting much change out of either of them, which was a pity, because Montrose no.4 Alan McKay was putting in a fair shift at the back, always looking to play out of danger or send a long ball up to the front, hoping McWilliam might catch the Pars guards off guard. The Angus boys gradually started to play a bit further up the pitch, and Dunfermline’s Henderson was caught offside 3 times in as many minutes as they tried to reassert themselves on their hosts.
On 26 minutes Dunfermline came close to increasing their lead when a lovely ball from the right wing was met by Blair Henderson, whose header was well saved by Dean Easton. Dean seems an assertive young man, and spared his defenders no blushes by telling them exactly how he thought they were performing! 3 minutes later he had cause to berate them once more when the Pars Allan Smith forced his way through the middle of the Montrose resistance and tucked away a neat shot to make it 2-0.
At this stage Montrose had yet to have a shot on the Dunfermline goal, or a corner, whilst shooting the other way the Pars found Easton in inspired form between the sticks for Montrose. Too often left as last man, rushing out of his 18 yard box to clear, he was stopping almost everything thrown at him, double saves and reflex saves galore. With 40 minutes on the clock it looked like he’d pulled off yet another wonder save but at the third time of asking, the influential Ross Drummond netted to take the Fifers 3-0 up, and 5 minutes later met a floated cross from the right, heading down and past the despairing Easton to make it 4-0 right on the interval. The Pars looked home and dry. Montrose looked worried.
Half Time: Dunfermline Ath 4-0 Montrose FC
I actually wondered if the match might fizzle out in the 2nd half, but after forcing a corner in the 1st minute Dunfermline added 3 goals in 11 minutes from the restart.
Blair Henderson was first to score with the last touch on a ping-pong affair in the box - a goal merited by his 1st half performance, then the irrepressible Alex Whittle nodded home after another initial point blank save from Easton, and Ross Millen smashed home a penalty, won after Ross Drummond was floored coming into the box. 7-0 and still more than half an hour to play.
To their credit, the Montrose boys kept plugging away. Alan McKay and Mathew Keogh tried to break up the waves of Dunfermline attacks and Lewis Dunn tried to be creative with what possession they had, but still Adam McWilliam ploughed a lone furrow up top. Dunfermline attacked by pushing their midfield forward at every opportunity, their back four sitting on the halfway line.
Montrose defended as nine outfield players, McWilliam alone up front, and the long ball up to him, which was almost inevitably lost, served only to invite Dunfermline back on top of them again. It wasn’t until the 71st minute that Ryan Goodfellow in the Dunfermline goal got his first touch, collecting easily from a free kick, and Montrose simply had no answer to the passing and pace of the Fife side.
Dunfermline went 8-0 up in 76 minutes, Shaun Byrne slamming home a wonderful cross from Ross Drummond, who was creating havoc on the left wing, 9-0 came in the 89th minute, substitute Scot Gray netting after another parry from Easton, and on the stroke of full time Scot got his 2nd and Dunfermline’s 10th in an almost identical move, again orchestrated on the left.
Dunfermline were very impressive. Fast, good control, width to their play and working well as a team in attack and defence. They have some first class players who I expect to see pushing for first team places in the not too distant future. Montrose on the day were simply outclassed and outgunned. They live to fight another day. Who will the Pars get in the next round? I might fancy that game!
Full Time: Dunfermline Athletic 10-0 Montrose FC