Craig Brown made two changes to the side which won last week in Inverness. Rory Fallon's injury is not as bad as was first feared but he failed to make the squad today. Scott Vernon, who was sick last week comes in. Also Chris Clark returns to the side and Kari Arnason drops to the bench. So the Dons lined up with Jamie Langfield in goals, Josh Magennis again plays at right back, Anderson and Reynolds are in the centre with Considine at left back. The middle three are Jack, Rae and Fyvie. Clark and Megginson were position in the wide areas and Scott Vernon was up front. A 4-4-3 formation going forward and a 4-5-1 when defending.
On the bench Declan McManus, the Clydesdale Youth League's top scorer, was named alongside Jamie Masson, Cammy Smith and keeper Danny Rogers. Craig Brown indicated in his pre match media conference that he would play a strong side against Dunfermline and Hibs as they are still in relegation danger otherwise some of the young boys might have got a start.
On a sunny but day the teams walked out to a fairly sparse crowd. Although the Dons had nothing to play for the Pars were fighting for their SPL lives. They had not won a home game all season. The closest they came was when they were 3-1 up against the Dons earlier in the season, only for the Dons to pull back to 3-3.
There was drama as early as the third minute when Dunfermline were awarded a free kick inside the box when Jamie Langfield picked up the ball. Jamie clearly knew what he was doing, the ball was passed back by Ryan Jack but deflected off a Dunfermline player so he picked it up. Referee Craig Charleston awarded a free kick and then booked Langfield. A quite appalling decision. Even the Dunfermline players looked bemused. It gave them though a great chance to score but Paddy Boyle hit the shot which just went past the back post. There were so many players on the line he would have done well to find a gap.
That aside the early exchanges were best described as scrappy. Langfield was the busier keeper but had no save on note to make.
12 minutes gone and Dunfermline keeper Chris Smith had to show some nimble footwork on the edge of the box as Mitch Megginson chased down a long through ball. Ironic cheers from the home fans as Smith has not been the most reliable this season in that kind of situation. He has let in some howlers.
Then Vernon was almost in. With an old fashioned shoulder charge he won the ball. The Dons moved it quickly through Clark and then Fyvie who shot. It was off target but almost landed at the feet of the Dons top scorer. The Pars defence looked very nervous. On 17 Magennis burst down the right with a terrific run. Sadly the cross did not match it. The right back though then did well to win the ball back and again he powered his way to the by-line. His cross was this time but well blocked by Keddie at the expense of the first corner of the afternoon. Magennis then put in a great tackle at the back. People have questioned the decision to play Josh at full back but every time you see him in that position he improves.
On 22 minutes Pars keeper Chris Smith gave away a corner from nothing. He got his positioning hopelessly wrong when coming for a simple cross. More nervousness at the back. Surely the Dons would be able to exploit this?
The Dons then won another corner a little bit after that could not engineer an opening. Although the Dunfermline defence were looking nervous they were at least defending the high balls better than they were earlier in the season.
Chris Clark was looking sharp today. He put in a very good cross which almost found the head of Vernon. The ball broke to Megginson who had a shot but it was weak. The midfield trio of Rae in the centre, Jack to his left and Fyvie to his right, were controlling the game.
Another Magennis jink into the box set up Clark who hit a shot which was blocked. Then on 32 minutes a Dunfermline defender was caught in possession, It allowed Rae a shot on goal but it was blocked. From another corner, number five. Anderson won a good header but the player at the back post cleared. The home fans were giving their favourites a lot of stick as Aberdeen continued to completely dominate.
The Dons were all over the home side. It is a long time since I can remember Aberdeen dominating so much against a side away from home. Clark's cross almost found Vernon and then Megginson had another goalward bound shot blocked. On 43 minutes another superb run down the right by Josh, beating two men, which led to another corner - number 8. The final action of the half saw Fyvie cross for Vernon and although he got his head on target it was an easy save for Smith.
Aberdeen went in at the break probably wondering why they were not winning this match.
The second half started off the way the first had gone. A great ball by Langfield allowed Considine to gallop down the left and get some space. He put in a decent cross but again it was cleared. On 47 minutes Aberdeen had a free kick in a good position but Fyvie's effort hit the wall. Some more crosses followed from Magennis and Clark. The crossing actually was not that bad but the Dons were a bit guilty of not getting enough bodies into the box. Clark and Magennis were linking up well down the right though. It was great to see a Dons full back willing to go beyond the play.
The Dons then had a penalty claim when Andy Dowie handed the ball when on the ground in the box, The Aberdeen fans behind the goal appealed for the spot kick. They were convinced it was a pen and they certainly had a good view of the incident.
Then unbelievably Dunfermline took the lead. On 55 minutes a simple long ball was not dealt with by Magennis who had got the wrong side of his man, although he did look offside. Joe Cardle did well to control the bouncing ball, step inside and create an opening before hammering the ball past Langfield. The keeper was a bit unlucky as he got a good touch on it.
The Dons players looked stunned and appealed in vain for offside. Russell Anderson was furious. For the next ten minutes the home side took some confidence from the goal and the game was a more even affair.
65 minutes gone. Anderson might have done better when he picked the ball up in a dangerous area. He had Jack to his left and he tried to play him in but his pass was over hit. Then came the first change of the afternoon for the Dons. Darren Mackie came on for Megginson who had a quiet afternoon. The Dons moved to a more 4-4-2 formation. Darren went up front and in midfield Jack moved to the centre, Fyvie and Rae were in the centre and Chris Clark was on the left.
Considine's driven cross was met by a diving header from Vernon but again it was straight at Smith. Then Mackie's cross went just behind Clark.
Then complete disaster, a second goal for Dunfermline on 68 minutes. Joe Cardle's free kick, was a very soft free kick, was played into the box. No one picked up Andy Kirk who had a free header from the centre of the penalty area and Langfield had no chance. Really poor marking.
With 15 minutes to go Scott Vernon and Chris Clark were replaced by Declan McManus and Jamie Masson. Both were making their debuts.
Dunfermline then scored a third on 78. A complete disaster at the back. Langfield made a mess of his clearance but the Dons recovered the situation only for Fraser Fyvie to inexplicably try and pass it back to his keeper. All he did was set up Kirk who managed to beat Langfield. Again the keeper was a bit unlucky as he got a hand to it but could not keep the shot out. The Dons players just stood and looked at Fyvie in shock.
The final 10 minutes or so were a complete non event. Both Masson and McManus showed some nice touches in the closing few minutes. Hopefully more of the youngsters will get a chance to play before the end of the season.