SPL v Livingston
LIVINGSTON 2 DUNFERMLINE 0 Date: 30/04/05
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League, Attendance: 5700
Kick Off: 15:00, Referee: Craig Thomson
Weather: Overcast 15°C
Davie Hay`s last match in charge
The trip to West Lothian was a huge disappointment for players, management and fans. Richard Gough`s team took all three points and deserved their win against a Pars team that just did not produced sufficient chances to alter the inevitable outcome of this match. One goal in each half claimed by O`Brien and McPake were enough to see off the Fifers challenge which quite frankly was not of the same quality as their opponents.
Never before has a post-split match had as much significance for the Pars. The trip to Livingston, with whom they share bottom spot, was for a match whose outcome could possibly have great influence on which division either team will be playing in next season. The Pars dropped Gjorgi Hristov to the bench favouring Republic of Ireland U21 internationalist Billy Mehmet to play alongside fellow Republican and scorer last time here, Noel Hunt.
A sizable travelling support tried hard to drown out the Livi drums as Jim Leishman mingled with the Pars fans. The Pars "Messiah" certainly fired the fans up and one just hoped that he had the same effect on the players. DA kicked off, defending the goal at the north end in front of their own fans, and it was all Pars in the opening minutes. The first corner came the visitors` way in the third minute with Andrius Skerla heading Iain Campbell`s ball in from the right over the bar.
Livingston mounted their first serious attack of the match with David McNamee sending in a cross that caused mayhem in the Pars box. Lilley returned the ball across the face of the goal and after a few nervous moments Noel Hunt was able to head clear. Livi came forward and their confidence seemed to grow by the minute. An O`Brien free kick was pumped into the Pars box but the defence dealt easily with it.
In the 14th minute Darren Young raised hopes with a good 30 yard effort that tested the blue shirted Roddy McKenzie in the Livi goal. A Bahoken challenge on Makel led to a free kick that was quickly taken but unluckily Billy Mehmet could not convert with his header. Burton O`Brien had a long range shot that flew wide of the left goalpost off his left foot and then in the 21st minute Derek Lilley was allowed a pop at goal after a fine assist from Kachloul. Fortunately for the Pars the ball ended up in amongst the black and white bedecked Dunfermline support behind the goal.
O`Brien sent another free kick into the box and Eric Deloumeaux headed over from just six yards. The Lions continued with Hassan Kachloul`s cross offered McMenamin a fine opportunity but the defence survived. Much as Livi pressed the Pars defence was resolute. A weak Lee Makel free kick was fired straight at McKenzie but gradually the Pars gained more territorial advantage.
McKenzie plucked out a Hunt cross before sending the ball back to the other end where Stillie did well to save from Colin McMemamin. Respite only though as Burton O`BRIEN cashed in on a defence splitting move coming from McMenamin the 33rd minute, and the South African born no.10 to finish clinically from 10 yards sending the Almondvale side into the lead. The Pars came back at the opposition with Makel and Donnelly doing their best to feed Skerla o the right but corner was the best that could be won. A second followed but when McKenzie fisted clear Gary Mason did really well as last man heading away when two Livi shirts threatened to break from the half way line.
One minute from the interval the Pars produced their best move of the half; Simon Donnelly working hard to retain possession in their opponent`s penalty box before feeding the ball back to Mason. Gary sent the ball out right for Lee Makel to send in a great ball that Mehmet headed unfortunately straight at the keeper.
The second half started quietly, drums excepted, Scott Wilson intercepted a nice touch through from Lilley that was heading for Kachloul deep inside the Pars box and from the throw in Stillie saved from Lilley`s backheader. The Pars keeper was called into action when a defensive clearance sat up nicely for former Par Jason Dair who rocketted the ball at the keeper in the 53rd minute.
Davie Hay went for an early remedy bringing on Aaron Labonte in the 56th minute. The withdrawal of Noel Hunt brought dissenting noises until it was clear that captain Scott Thomson was going to team up with Billy Mehmet in the attack. The restructured Pars defence was stretched as Burton O`Brien gained ground up the left and forced a fine save from Stillie as his cross was expertly met by McMenamin.
Into the final quarter of the game and the Fifers certainly began to push hard. Darren Young was wide with his half struck shot an then he had another better hit shot blocked. Play centred in the Livi half back there was still a lack of penetration and bite. It looked as though that might have changed in the 68th minute when Thomson exchanged passes with Makel to find Young on the right in fine position to release a shot but the offside flag was up.
Gjorgi Hristov came on for Donnelly but it looked like the more welcome sight was the withdrawal of the always dangerous Kachloul by James McPake but the sub had barely been on the park two minutes when the home side were two ahead. O`Brien floated in a 75th minute corner from the right, Dorado flicked on and McPAKE found the net with a forceful header. It was to be a vital goal for Livingston and the battle against relegation had just got so much harder. As it stood with United head at Dens Park, the Pars were three points adrift as their ship looked like sinking.
On 90 minutes Hristov had an excellent chance to grab a consolation goal when Vincze sliced a clearance that fell nicely for the Macedonian but he was not to claim his first goal in a Dunfermline shirt fluffing his shot at McKenzie from just six yards.
The mood around Almondvale mirrored the league predicament. Pars fans made their way out with over five minues to go and the Livi fans clapped with the drumbeat and waved their yellow balloons.
The Fifers put up a valiant fight in the second half but it was all to no avail. It was impossible to gauge whether or not Scott Thomson could solve the Pars goal drought since he received very little that he could do anything with. Scott Wilson and Darren Young wee possibly the better of the Pars performers but it was a very gloomy press conference from Davie Hay and Scott Thomson. 37 points are now the maximum Dunfermline can get but the way opportunities keep come and going 28 is going to be hard to better. Dundee at home next Saturday was designated "must win game" by both Pars spokespeople. This is a Cup Final and a win could put Dundee in serious jeopardy. It`s not all over yet!
LIVINGSTON: McKenzie; McNameee, Dorado, Deloumeaux, Bahoken; O`Brien, Vincze, Dair (Easton 66); Lilley, Kachloul (McPake 73 (Snodgrass 87)), McMenamin
SUBS NOT USED: Meldrum, Strong, Brittain, Nouma
Livingston Goal Scorers: O`Brien (33), McPake
Livingston Yellow Card: Bahoken (40)
DUNFERMLINE: Stillie: Skerla, Wilson, Thomson, Campbell; Makel, Darren Young, Mason; Donnelly (Hristov 70); Hunt (Labonte 56), Mehmet
SUBS NOT USED: Langfield, Christiansen, McKeown, C Wilson, Ross
STRIP: Home White and Black
YELLOW CARDS: Campbell (26), Makel (79)
Ladbrokes Championship: Saturday 18th March, Dunfermline v Ayr United kick off 3.00pm