Saturday 9 July 2016, 15.00, East End Park

A trip over the bridge to see Scottish League One Dunfermline Athletic up against Scottish Premiership’s Hearts.

Dunfermline Athletic, or “The Pars” started life in 1885 after the football members of Dunfermline Cricket Club formed their own organisation.  They began life at East End Park, but moved the ground east in 1903 due to drainage problems.  I’ve spent many afternoons on the now departed terracing at East End Park completely drenched to say that they never quite solved this problem.

They entered the Scottish League in 1912 but left again in 1919 to join the Central League.  They returned in 1921.  They have twice won the Scottish Cup in their golden era of the 1960s, and have won the second tier in Scotland four times, most recently in 2011.

In 2013 the club went into administration and lost a play-off to Alloa Athletic, dropping into the third tier.  They lost the play-off final to Cowdenbeath in 2014 to spend another season in that league.

Current manager Alan Johnston was appointed at the start of last season and they won League One so are back in the Scottish Championship for the new season.

Heart of Midlothian Football Club, commonly known as Hearts, play at Tynecastle Stadium, where home matches have been played since 1886.

Hearts have won the Scottish league championship four times, most recently in 1959–60, where they also retained the Scottish League Cup to complete a League and League Cup double – the only club outside of Celtic and Rangers to achieve such a feat. Hearts have won the Scottish Cup eight times, most recently in 2012 after a 5–1 win over city-rivals Hibernian and the League Cup a total of four times.

Like their opponents today, Hearts went into administration in 2013.  Starting season 2013-14 with minus 15 points and a signing embargo proved too much and they were relegated to the Championship at the end of the season.  The Foundation of Hearts was established to and the money from the fans saved the club from extinction.

Hearts exited administration in June 2014 and earned an immediate return to the Scottish Premiership by clinching the 2014-15 Scottish Championship title with seven games remaining, despite the presence of Hibs and Rangers in the same league.  Last season saw a very creditable finish of 3rd.

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This is Hearts second friendly, having drawn at Cowdenbeath the previous Saturday with a side made up of fringe players and youngsters.  It’s a similar squad today with Europa League qualifiers already in progress.  During the week Hearts won in Estonia to progress to the next round.  They have also now signed Swedish goalkeeper Viktor Noring and also have former Fulham player Liam Donnelly playing as a trialist today.

This is Dunfermline’s only scheduled home pre-season friendly, so the crowd of 2,016 is a little disappointing.  Especially when there looks to be a larger away support present.  This is already their fifth game though, having won friendlies against Livingston and Clyde, losing to Partick Thistle and drawing with Alloa Athletic.

The Pars have signed Nat Wedderburn, a midfielder from Inverness Caley Thistle, defender Lee Ashcroft from Kilmarnock, striker Gavin Reilly on loan from today’s opponents and full back Euan Spark after he was released by Dundee United.

Hearts started well, pressing the Pars defence from the off and forced a couple of quick corners.  Todorov got his head on Cowie’s corner in four minutes, but it was too high.

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Dunfermline were having to do a lot of defending in the opening exchanges, but a good run by Cardle brought some relief, although it ended with his shot being comfortably saved by Noring.

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It was the home side that had the next chance too, with Moffat taking a great touch to beat his marker from a Martin cross, but Noring was there for Hearts again after 14 minutes to block.  From the resulting corner, Oshaniwa cleared off the line from Wedderburn’s header.  The second corner from McCabe was flicked on by Richards-Everton to Geggan, who smashed the ball home to give the Pars the lead in 16 minutes.

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Hearts almost grabbed the equaliser in 24 minutes when Juanma played the ball inside to Cowie who let fly from 25 yards, but Hutton made a flying save to turn it over the bar and preserve his team’s lead.

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Two minutes later, it was 2-0.  Geggan shot for goal from 25 yards, but although his shot wasn’t as powerful as Cowie’s had been, it took a massive deflection off Soutar, wrong-footing Noring, although the keeper almost managed to get back across his goal to keep it out.

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Zanatta had a header from a Nicholson cross as Hearts searched for a way back into the game, but Dunfermline wrapped the game up in 32 minutes.  Dunfermline broke forward and Moffat fed Cardle on the left, who angled a drilled shot right into the far corner past a helpless Noring.

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Todorov and Zanatta had half chances for Hearts, but it was the home side who almost grabbed another goal just before half time when the ball fell to Moffat in the box, but he drags his shot just past the post.

Hearts began the second half as they had the first and Juanma was first to go for goal in 48 minutes, when he broke into the box, but Hutton saved.

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There was a feel of job done from the home side as Hearts had control of possession without any real penetration as the second half wore on.

There was almost another for the Pars in 72 minutes when Geggan found McCabe, but he was under pressure as he fired his shot into the stand.

A cross from Oshaniwa almost brought a goal for Juanma, but Hutton made another good save to keep Hearts out.  Then, in 75 minutes, a cross from Muirhead went over the head of Hutton and Donnelly had the simple task of heading the ball home, but somehow headed over the top.  It really wasn’t Hearts day.

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Hearts finally got on the scoreboard with five minutes left when Ashcroft pulled Zanatta down in the box and the Canadian took the penalty himself, blasting it down the middle to find the net.

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It was clear that Dunfermline were on their fifth game of pre-season.  They looked sharp and hungry, particularly in the first half.   Cardle was a constant menace with his trickery and Moffat’s movement was very good.  They look set to have a good season.

Hearts looked off the pace for much of the match, but Godinho looked decent at right back and Nicholson showed flashes of his ability.

I’d advise anyone going to East End Park to sample the steak bridies.

Full Time: Dunfermline Athletic 3 Hearts 1

Admission: £10

Dunfermline Athletic : 1 David Hutton, 2 Ryan Williamson, 3 Lewis Martin, 4 Lee Ashcroft, 5 Ben Richards-Everton, 6 Andy Geggan (Spence 84), 7 Rhys McCabe, 8 Nat Wedderburn, 9 Michael Moffat (McMullan 77), 10 Gavin Reilly, 11 Joseph Cardle.  Subs: 20 Cameron Gill, 12 Jason Talbot, 14 Euan Spark, 15 Lewis Spence, 16 Paul McMullan, 17 David Hopkirk, 18 James Thomas, 19 Callum Smith.

Hearts: 1 Viktor Noring, 2 Marcus Godinho (Brandon 86), 3 Juwon Oshaniwa, 4 John Soutar, 5 Liam Donnelly [T], 6 Robbie Buchanan (Vladislav 61), 7 Sam Nicholson, 8 Don Cowie, 9 Juanma, Delgado Lloria (Reid 78), 10 Nikolay Todorov (Muirhead 45), 11 Dario Zanatta.  Subs: 13 Paul Gallacher, 12 Yves Vladislav, 14 Robbie Muirhead, 15 Jamie Brandon, 16 Aaron Reid.

Referee: Steven McLean

Programme: £2.00

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