Saints U20's 1-2 Dunfermline Athletic (23.8.16)

Alec Cleland's Saints U20's side lost 2-1 at home to Dunfermline Athletic tonight on the opening day of the Development League season.

Connor McLaren's 54th minute header cancelled out the Trialist's 47th minute opener for the Fifers, but Michael Paton fired the winner home on 69 minutes despite a clear foul on Saints' Cameron Lumsden in the build up.

MATCH REPORT

After the captains, Aaron Comrie for Saints and Callum Fordyce for the visitors, shook hands it was a busy opening few minutes at both ends of the pitch.

Inside three minutes Cameron Lumsden had a shot on goal when his dipping effort landed on the roof of the net, following good work by Paul Simpson and Ali McCann who passed at infront of the box well before finding Lumsden.

Then Dunfermline went on the attack two minutes later when right-back Reece Duncan played through the Trialist who's shot was creeping inside the top-right corner of the net but kept out by the outstretched hand of Mark Hurst. The Pars' David Hopkirk followed in with the rebound but his effort went straight at Hurst who held the ball well to thwart the danger.

Hurst was called into action again minutes later when the Trialist capitalised on a slip by Saints' Danny Jardine in the middle of the park to play in Hopkirk who once again was in a good position to score but his hard shot was palmed away for a corner by the home goalkeeper.

Michael Paton's 20-yard effort for the visitors flew just past the post on 10 minutes before Saints woke up and started to take the game to Dunfermline.

Jardine collected the ball and played a defence-splitting pass through to Greg Hurst inside the area who found himself one-on-one with Dunfermline's Cammy Gill. However, despite a good first touch Hurst's shot went just past the left-hand post when it looked goal-bound.

On 21 minutes, George Hunter found himself in a similar position to Hurst with the ball at his feet in the penalty area ready to shoot, however a Pars defender managed to slide in at the last moment to clear the ball for a corner just as Hunter was about to pull the trigger.From the resultant corner, Eoghan McCawl fired over from a Paul Simpson cross.

The Fifers then had a couple of chances in the 24th minute. First, Paul McMullan hit a free-kick that was tipped wide by Hurst and from the corner it was McMullan again who, after playing a short pass with a teammate, managed to get past his man, Greg Hurst, to drive into the box and hit a shot straight at Hurst rather than cutting it back to a team mate.

On 31 minutes, Greg Hurst, who earlier in the week signed a Development Loan at Berwick Rangers, took a pass from Paul Simpson on the left side of the opposition's penalty area ran past his man Reece Duncan and, on his right foot, hit a bending shot that whistled just past the goalkeeper's left-hand post.

The end-to-end nature of the opening half-hour seemed to fizzle out with the teams going in at half-time goalless.

Just after the interval Dunfermline took the lead. The visitors had passed the ball around the box well before hitting a stinging drive, which was blocked by Greg Page, but the ball was then played through to the Trialist who collected the pass, shook off defenders Lumsden and Comrie, and slotted the ball past Hurst.

On 51 minutes the impressive Connor McLaren tried to hit back. He collected the ball on the right and drove into the box past his man, Connor Duthie, finding Eoghan McCawl with a cutback. However the Northern Irishman blazed his shot over from 15 yards out.

Two minutes later and Saints got the equaliser. A cross was floated in from the left and McLaren charged into the box and beat Stuart Morrison in the area to guide the ball past Gill with a powerful header.

On 58 minutes, McLaren was proving to be a pest to the away side as he took the ball on the right-wing and as he looked to drop the shoulder and run at the Dunfermline defence he was deliberately tripped by Connor Duthie, who received a yellow card.

From the resultant free kick, Paul Simpson drifted the ball into the area and found McLaren but the young winger couldn't get enough power on his header to beat Gill for a second time.

Minutes later and Hopkirk had a shot on target for the visitors but his effort was again easily collected by Hurst.

Saints had the ball in the net in the 63rd minute by Greg Hurst but George Hunter, who cut the ball back for him, was adjudged to have taken the ball of out play at the byline in the build up.

Twenty minutes from the end and Dunfermline took the lead in contraversial fashion. Saints right-back Cameron Lumsden was clearly shoved to the ground by a Dunfermline attacker out on the wing next to the dugouts but the referee waved play on. From the resultant passage of play Paul McMullan ran with the ball and played in Michael Paton who fired the ball past Hurst at his left hand post.

On 78 minutes, the Trialist and McMullan played a neat one-two on the edge of the area before the Trialist fired a shot straight at Hurst.

In the last minute, substitute Ciaran Brian saved Saints from losing a third goal when he slid to block Euan Horne's shot, who linked up well with McMullan. From the corner that followeded McMullan's cross flew across the six-yard box and out for a goal kick.

Saints' line up: M. Hurst, Lumsden, McCann, McCawl, Comrie, Page, McLaren, Jardine, Hunter, Simpson, G. Hurst. Subs: B. McKenzie, Johnson, Docherty, O'Reilly, J. McKenzie, Donald, Brian.

Dunfermline Athletic: Gill, Duncan, Duthie, Morrison, Fordyce, Galloway, Paton, Lochhead, Trialist, Hopkirk, McMullan. Subs: Dunn, Lafferty, Horne, Crawford, Luke, Smith, Thomas.

Referee: Chris McNab

Assistant referees: Jonathan Bell & Gordon McCabe