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Three out of three for Dunfermline as Kilmarnock capitulate in Betfred Cup

Celtic v Dunfermline – Betfred Cup – Second Round – Celtic Park
(Image credit: Jeff Holmes)

Dunfermline made it three Betfred Cup wins out of three with a 3-0 victory over coronavirus-affected Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

After goalless first half the Championship side opened the scoring in the 55th minute with a header from captain Euan Murray.

Midfielder Fraser Murray, on loan from Hibernian, nodded in a second in the 72nd minute before delivering a stunning free-kick to clinch the win against a weakened home side and build on previous cup wins over Dumbarton and Falkirk.

The Rugby Park outfit had to forfeit last week’s Group E opener against Falkirk after boss Alex Dyer refused to play a team of youth players while the first-team squad self-isolated following six positive Covid-19 cases.

Killie had six first team players back available for the visit of Stevie Crawford’s side and Dyer gave debuts to three 17-year-olds, Kenny Sloan, Euan Deveney and Steven Warnock and 18-year-old Craig Ross, with 35-year-old goalkeeper Colin Doyle, on loan from Hearts, also making his debut.

The Ayrshire outfit, with experienced Gary Dicker marshalling teenagers Sloan, Ross and Deveney in the back four, were far from cowed in the early stages.

In the 16th minute striker Nicke Kabamba raced through with only Steven Whittaker to beat and with Warnock in support but he decided to go it alone only to be dispossessed rather easily by the wily Pars defender.

At the other end, Dunfermline attacker Declan McManus sent a left-footed shot from distance just past the far post.

The Pars started the second half strongly.

When Rory McKenzie fouled Dom Thomas near the corner flag, the former Kilmarnock player curled the free-kick into the six-yard box for Murray to power a header past Doyle.

The duo had combined twice in a similar way for Murray to score a double in the 2-0 win over Falkirk on Friday night.

Dunfermline looked to be taking control and Doyle blocked a shot from Thomas at his near post.

However, Killie showed spirit.

Veteran attacker Chris Burke just cleared the bar with a long-range drive before debutant substitute Josh Rennie, on for Innes Cameron in the 65th minute, headed a Warnock cross into the arms of Pars keeper Cameron Gill.

The Fifers doubled their lead when McManus’s cross from the left was headed in at the far post by the other Murray, Fraser, for his first goal in Dunfermline colours.

The midfielder then curled a wonderful free-kick from 30 yards high past Doyle to put an extra sheen on the result.