Without a game since November 23rd, a trip to local rivals Broxburn for their first fixture in two months wasnt an ideal restart of league duties for the young Pace, the initially caste home fixture versus Forth rescheduled to a later date, but such has been the winter so far everyone was delighted just to have a game to play.
The Westfield men didn't have their problems to seek prior to kickoff, King missing through work commitments and left back Taylor ruled out late in the day with a niggling back injury before central defender Stuart Hepburn pulled up in the warmup.
It meant a first start in the heart of the defence for Mark Black with centre back Grant Walker filling the unfamiliar left back position. It also broight a change in shape for the young Pace, Brown deployed in a lone striker role with Steven and Mitusch playing wide of a midfield 3 of Swords, Meade and Maclaren.
For all the pre-match upheaval Dunipace actually started the game brightly, adapting well to the new system and restricting their hosts to playing in front of them with Jackson in the home goal untroubled.
And it got better for the visitors as they took an early lead. Meade and Steven linked on the left to win a free kick and top scorer Sean Brown stepped up to fire teh resulting free kick into teh far corner beyond the diving home keeper who will feel he may have done better with the effort.
And it nearly got better for the Pace as they had a great chance to make it 2 following some excellent passing football that found Mitusch on the right. Mitusch delivered an excellent cross that took out both central defenders and landed on teh head of Brown who just couldn't get enough power on his header from 8 yeards against a strong wind, the home keeper stretching to his right to keep it out.
Playing with a strong wind though Broxburn came into the game around the quarter hour as Dunipace started to give the ball away cheaply, dropping off the level they had played in the first 15 minutes which they never managed to find for the rest of the game and it wasnt long before the home side were level.
Dunipace gave the ball away cheaply in midfield, allowing the home attacker in between the lines. He played a very good reverse into the path of the home striker who had spun into the left channel. Dunipace claimed for offside, but it was marginal at best, leaving the striker to pull back square to the onrushing Nimmo who finished first time through Jacksons legs from 8 yards.
Poor defending from Dunipace, reacting slowly to giving teh ball away cheaply, but take nothing away from the initial pass and finish which gave Jackson no chance.
And 5 minutes later Nimmo was on hand again to make it 2-1 to the home side, pouncing upon another Pace mistake. As they looked to play teh ball along the backline from right to left, Walker opted against going wide to Steven, playing back into Balmer at centre back. Balmer mis controlled, allowing Nimmo to nip in and pinch the ball, leaving him through on goal. Jackson rushed off his line to confront the pacey striker who sidestepped him easily outside of the box before slotting into an empty net just before the half hour.
2-1 to the home side, but the most disappointing thing for the visitors would surely be that they hadnt made Broxburn work for their lead, playing a huge part in both goals.
Dunipace had a few efforts on goal from distance before having a decent penalty claim waved away by the match official. Brown nicked the ball beyond his marker in the area but as he looked to latch onto the ball it was deflected away by a hand. By no means a clear cut decision, but everyone in attendance has seen them given, so the home side would have been releived that the official didnt see any offence on this occasion.
The only other chance of the half fell to the home side following another mistake in the Pace defence, Nimmo thinking he had grabbed his hat trick before Balmer got back to clear off the line with Jackson in the Pace goal beaten.
2-1 to Broxburn at half time but in truth, by their own standards, Dunipace hadn't kicked a ball so would have been content still to be in the game against a good Broxburn side who, to be fair, also didn't seem to be playing to their own levels.
At the half Swords was replaced by Weir having clearly been carrying his own injury during the first 45 minutes, another blow for the Pace losing the influential midfielder, with Walker also struggling with a hip problem that would see him last only 10 minutes more.
Dunipace were a little brighter in the opening stages of the half, Steven being played free on the left by Maclaren following some good football through Midfield but his cutback fell behind both Weir and Brown allowing Broxburn to clear.
Brown then forced a fantastic save from the home keeper as he nutmegged his marker before firing powerfully towards the top corner from 18 yards, the keeper diving to tip over the top.
Steven and Maclaren forced saves from the home keeper from set plays as Jackson in the Pace goal had very little to do playing with the wind second half, but Dunipace didn't manage to grab the leveller and the game settled back down with neither side creating much in the way of clear cut chances.
By this stage Steven, an attacking midfielder by trade, had replaced Walker at left back with Comrie coming on to play up top with Brown, Weir moving to fill in at right midfield from his regular centre forward position and Mitusch moving from right to left. Fair to say the Pace were very much in makeshift mode by this stage, their options limited by the injuries sustained!
In the second period the home side only really had one effort of note, the ball fired wide from 18 yards after the Pace again lost the ball in a bad area by trying to overplay. And Dunipace came close to levelling the match in the closing stages, McIntyre firing over a powerful effort from 25 yards before Steven nearly managed to turn a low corner in, the ball cleared by the man on the post.
The home keeper made another fine stop from a Comrie effort before a fantastic 20 yard strike from Maclaren was deflected wide for a corner as it headed for the top corner. From the corner Black rose highest to head back across goal but the ball narrowly avoided Comrie who just couldnt get up high enough to tap into the empty net.
Rather predictably (by both sets of coaches who had a chuckle with each other about it) the second half was stopped short of teh 45 minutes just as the first had been, not even reaching the 45 never mind any stoppage time for the numerous occasions the ball was out of play for extended periods due to the windy conditions. It was a fitting end for an official who had his own interesting afternoon but thankfully didn't have any real bearing on the result with a number of erratic decision (to say the least) for both sides.
The main positive on the day for Dunipace, given such a rusty and below par performance, was surely that they were still well in the game to the last, could have nicked a point at the end and only lost out narrowly on a day where, in truth, they didn't play at all.
For the spectators in the reasonably sized crowd, on a pretty miserable afternoon, it certainly wasn't the game that it promised to be on paper. It would be fair to say that the hosts, having only played a couple of times themselves in the period Dunipace have been idle, were also very much on the rusty side.
Hopefully when these two next meet it is following a long run of fixtures for both and the game, between two very good sides, is a better spectacle for those braving the elements.