Par-fect start for the Loons

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IT was the ‘Par-fect’ start to the 2012-2013 campaign (writes Alan Ducat).

Without doubt Forfar Atheltic’s three-two home victory over Dunfermline Athletic was the eye-opening result of the opening round of the Ramsdens Cup.

THE WINNER: Gavin Swankie's dangerous cross into the centre has the Pars in a sweat, the ball eventually ending up in the back of the net for what proved to be the winner at Station Park on Saturday.'Picture by Chris Coutts, Forfar.

THE WINNER: Gavin Swankie's dangerous cross into the centre has the Pars in a sweat, the ball eventually ending up in the back of the net for what proved to be the winner at Station Park on Saturday.'Picture by Chris Coutts, Forfar.

And, without doubt, the Loons thoroughly deserved to progress in the tourney.

They came out of the blocks quickly, put the first division side under pressure from the start and fully deserved to take an early advantage.

And when the visitors, relegated from the premier league at the end of last season, came roaring back to take a two-one interval lead, they didn’t allow that to faze them.

Indeed, the home side were on top for the bulk of the second period and went on to score two wonderful goals to claim a major cup scalp.

While mayhem has reigned elsewhere in Scottish football, the Loons manager Dick Campbell quietly but effectively went about the business of rebuilding his squad for the new season.

And what a find he has in left winger Danny Denholm, who tormented the Dunfermline rearguard with his pace and skill.

The other new signings also caught the eye, in particular Omar Kader on the right flank, Gavin Swankie up front and Michael Dunlop at the heart of the defence.

Forfar made an exceptionally bright start to the game and, within the opening minute, Denholm mesmerised two defenders with his skill on the left, opening a route to goal, and firing in a shot which Dunfermline goalkeeper Paul Gallacher managed to block.

Soon after Gavin Swankie warmed the paws of the keeper with a free-kick, while Dunlop rose to meet a corner from the left and saw his effort parried by the custodian.

It seemed a matter of time before Forfar took the lead and they did just that in 13 minutes with a superbly worked goal.

The move started on the right flank through Kader, and the ball was eventually worked out to the dangerous Denholm, who whipped in a beauty of a cross.

The ball was only partially cleared into the path of Kader, who smashed the ball home for his first competitive goal for the club.

Alas, the lead was shortlived, Dunfermline racing to the other end and capitalising on a Marc McCulloch mistake to level through Ryan Wallace.

The visitors had the better of the play for a spell thereafter, moving the ball about sweetly on Forfar’s plush new artificial surface.

And it came as no surprise when, in 35 minutes, the Pars took the lead, Andy Barrowman fastening on to a neat through ball, turning his marker and picking his spot past Soutar in the Forfar goal.

It was a bit of a set-back for the Loons, but could they hit back?

The answer was yes. After a shaky start to the second period, which saw the visitors hit the bar, Forfar found their rhythm again, and were soon in the box seat.

Eight minutes into the period and they were level.

And what a goal it was. Three passes out of defence and a great ball from Charlie King picked out Danny Denholm, whose first touch totally bamboozled the Dunfermline rear-guard, sending him through on goal.

The 21-year-old looked up and cracked a great shot past the Dunfermline goalkeeper, who got a glove to the ball but couldn’t prevent it from hitting the back of the net.

It got even better for the Loons in the 66th minute, when Gavin Swankie netted his first competitive goal for the Loons and his eleventh of the season so far.

There seemed little danger when he was boxed in just outside the box on the left, but he twisted and turned his man and sent over a peach of a ball which Gallacher made an absolute hash of, managing only to help it into the net.

The goal was to prove the match-winner, for although Dunfermline tried to hit back, they rarely looked like penetrating a well-marshalled Forfar rearguard.

So it’s onwards and upwards for the men from Station Park, with a visit by another first division outfit in Partick Thistle to look forward to this coming Saturday - this time in the opening round of the Scottish Communities League Cup.

Forfar Athletic - Soutar, McCulloch, Dunlop, Iain Campbell, Bolochoweckyj, King (Motion), Kader (Ross Campbell), Gibson, Denholm, Templeman (Fotheringham 72) and Swankie.

Dunfermline Athletic - Gallacher, Geggan, Potter, Dowie, McMillan, Husband (Kane), Thomson (Whittle), Falkingham, Cardle, Barrowman and Wallace (Kirk).