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Dunfermline 0-1 Queens Park: Pars relegated from Championship after late sucker punch

Simon Murray celebrates after scoring the goal that sent Dunfermline down.
Simon Murray celebrates after scoring the goal that sent Dunfermline down.

Dunfermline Athletic have been relegated from the Scottish Championship.

The Pars suffered a late 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Queen’s Park in their play-off second-leg.

The Fifers will play next season in League One for the first time since the 2015/16 season.

John Hughes’ men couldn’t take advantage of their first half dominance and had to play much of the second half a man down.

Efe Ambrose saw red for bringing down Simon Murray as he raced through on goal.

And it was Murray who would cause more problems late on, tapping in from close range to send his side into the final and the Pars down to the third tier of Scottish football.

Pars fail to take chances

It was all to play for between the two sides coming into the deciding leg after a 0-0 draw on Wednesday.

John Hughes made one change to his side from that stalemate, with Josh Edward, who had played every minute of the Pars’ previous Championship games, dropping out for Lewis Martin.

Dunfermline were lucky not to find themselves 1-0 down in the opening moments of the game.

 Jai Quitongo looked a threat for Queen's Park
Jai Quitongo looked a threat for Queen’s Park

Bob McHugh found himself in acres of space down the left flank and worked a ball into the box with Luca Connell the recipient.

But the forward could only hit his shot straight at Jakub Stolarczyk, who got down well to save.

It was a big let off for the home side, with the Spiders looking the livelier of the sides early on.

It took the Pars around 20 minutes to start threatening their League One opponents.

Ryan Dow flashed a shot across the face of goal after a quick Steven Lawless free-kick.

Dow went close again a minute later when his shot from distance had keeper Calum Ferrie stretching, but his effort went narrowly over.

Steven Lawless tries a shot at goal
Steven Lawless tries a shot at goal

Moments later it was Liam Polworth who saw an effort go high and wide. The midfielder pick-pocketed defender Charlie Fox on the by line before cutting back into the box, but his effort didn’t trouble Ferrie.

Dunfermline continued to pile on the pressure and Efe Ambrose was the next one to go agonisingly close. The defender saw his effort from Graham Dorrans’ corner heroically cleared off the line by Queen’s Park keeper.

Despite their 14 efforts on goal and lions’ share of possession, the Pars went into the half-time break still searching for their opener.

Dunfermline down to ten men

Queen’s Park started the second half with their tails up and looked to take the game to the hosts, winning a couple of fouls in Dunfermline’s half.

And the Spiders looked even more confident on 58 minutes when the Pars were reduced to ten men.

A poor pass backwards from Polworth allowed substitute Simon Murray to burst past Ambrose. The defender slid for the ball but caught the forward, who was through on goal, leaving referee Craig Napier no choice but to brandish a red card.

Efe Ambrose is shown a straight red for a foul on Simon Murray.
Efe Ambrose is shown a straight red for a foul on Simon Murray.

The Pars looked nervy, but were just inches away from opening the scoring on 70 minutes. Coll Donaldson watched as header from a Lawless free-kick went inches over the cross bar.

The Spiders’ one-man advantage began to show, with Dunfermline losing out in the midfield battles.

Murray continued to trouble the Pars and was close to giving his side the lead on 80 minutes when his looping header went agonisingly wide.

Queen’s Park were unlucky again on 85 minutes when Connell’s fierce volley from the edge of the box flashed over the bar.

The ten men looked to be holding on for extra-time but were dealt a hammer blow when Murray pounced in the six-yard box to give the visitors the lead.

Dunfermline fans headed for the exit as the away end went wild.

Late efforts from Lawless and Donaldson weren’t enough – and the Fifers were condemned to League One.

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