SPL v Inverness Caley Thistle
DUNFERMLINE 0 INVERNESS CT 0 Date: 23/04/05
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League, Attendance: 4481
Kick Off: 15:00, Referee: Calum Murray
Weather: 12C Sunny
It was friends re-united on the home bench with top scorer Andy Tod was fit enough to sit alongside two long term injuries - Aaron Labonte and Lee Makel. The Pars fielded the same starting eleven as met Rangers at East End Park the previous Sunday in their fourth attempt to register their first ever SPL victory over the highlanders. Inverness Caley Thistle had Stuart Golabek back, their only change as they went for their fourth successive SPL victory.
The visitors kicked off defending the goal in front of the Norrie McCathie Stand but the early exchanges were cautionary on the part of both sides. Noel Hunt was wide right to benefit from a neat Donnelly - Hristov interchange in the fourth minute but his delivery fell behind the goals.
Donnelly excited the home fans running on to a free kick in the seventh minute but Brown was out to collect and then four minutes later Inverness CT’s first shot on target was a tame effort from Barry Wilson. The shot from the left corner of the penalty box was easily held by Derek Stillie. Brewster’s men kept up the pressure with Brew’s shot from a Golabek cross being deflected off Scott Wilson for the first corner of the afternoon. Wilson headed that clear and the Pars were quickly up at the opposite end with Donnelly blasting another good opportunity over the bar.
Caley were not to be stopped and Barry Wilson went on one of his characteristic runs working his way down the left and into the Pars box to find Roy McBain with a square ball. His shot was blocked by the Pars defence and it was back to the other end.
A Hunt ball in from the right took a deflection and Brown could only turn it behind for another corner on 18 minutes. This time it was met by the late arrival of Skerla but unluckily his header slipped wide of the right post. Two minutes later Derek Young and Gjorgi Hristov combined to feed a good ball on to Simon Donnelly and when his shot was blocked Noel Hunt looked like scoring but his shot flew over the bar.
Derek Stillie sprang through the air in Superman style to touch away the visitor’s second corner in the 22nd minute. Two minutes later a free kick from Iain Campbell beat the four man wall from 25 yards out but Mark Brown made a spectacular save down at the base of his left hand post.
Hunt continued to give Golabek an extremely uncomfortable afternoon out on the Pars right but his next useful cross could not be converted but then seconds later Darren Young got a break that allowed him a clear shot at goal but that one went into the McCathie Stand.
Hunt and Donnelly made an opening for Gary Mason to get in a shot that was blocked on the edge of the box. It was all Pars by now and a free kick 28 yards out was slid from Scott Thomson to Darren Young. His low shot would have tested Brown but the ball was stopped by an attacker and when the ball broke right to Hunt the offside flag was long up before the ball hit the net.
Dunfermline were fighting hard and had the bulk of the possession. Chances were coming but they just could not be taken. Donnelly put Mason through on the right side of the ICT box but his square ball into danger was turned behind for a corner. Hunt neatly headed Campbell’s corner but straight into Brown’s arms.
Three minutes from the interval Derek Young was down injured with the home fans whistling for a stoppage as Barry Wilson broke forward and Stillie was forced into making a fine save, turning the well struck shot over the crossbar for a corner. Young recovered and when play quickly switched to the other end it was he who blasted the ball over the visitor’s crossbar.
Dunermline kicked the second half off in bright spring sunshine but the relegation gloom was not to be lifted.
Derek Young (above) rose well to head a Hunt cross narrowly wide of the right post just inside the 48th minute. Donnelly continued to beaver about and set up Hristov with a good chance but the former Premiership player could not recreate the kind of finish that was required.
There was a period of greater Caley possession as the Fifers looked particularly jittery. The travelling support in the east end of the Main stand began to be heard above the increasingly nervous Pars fans.
A Tokely- Brewster- Wilson move won a corner on the right and although the defence was not troubled by that, possession was quickly back with Caley Thistle.
Davie Hay had to do something as the Pars were driven further and further back. In the 59th minute Dunfermline made a double substitution; on came Billy Mehmet and Jesper Christiansen for Hunt and Hristov.
The ball did get closer to Mark Brown but never in any way that was to prevent him claiming his ninth shut out of the season. He plucked a Christiansen ball from the right out of the air and watched his defence deal comfortably with free kicks.
There was a real let off for Dunfermline in 70th minute when substitute Bajram Fetai missed an absolute sitter at the far post after Wilson sent over a good ball from the right touchline.
Dunfermline could not get close enough to the Caley goal; Scott Wilson had a long range effort that went wide but it was the visiting fans who were growing increasingly louder and confident. That was countered by a huge roar for the introduction of Andy Tod with ten minutes remaining but that was all the home support really had to cheer.
As Inverness continued to push, Dunfermline’s nerve continued to be troubled.Brew did find himself in the heart of defence doing his bit to keep his old mates out but despite the late Pars push there was not going to be a winner.
Stillie tried to inject the necessary urgency into the concluding minutes sending an 88th minute free kick from midway inside his own half towards Christiansen on the edge of the box but Darren Dods mopped up.
In the three added minutes Andy Tod sent a chance from a Campbell free kick over the crossbar but in the end it was to be one point towards the cause. News of Dundee’s defeat at Rugby Park and the draw between Dundee United and Livingston was small consolation but if their SPL status is to be preserved Dunfermline will have to remember how to find the net.
Iain Campbell was awarded the Man of the Match AwardDunfermline Squad: Stillie; Skerla, Wilson, Thomson, Campbell; Derek Young, Darren Young, Mason, Hunt (Mehmet 59); Donnelly (Tod 80), Hristov (Christiansen 59)
Dunfermline Subs not used: Langfield, Makel, Labonte, Ross
Dunfermline Strip: Home White and Black
Dunfermline Yellow Card: Hristov (45)
Inverness CT Squad: Brown; Tokely, Dods, Munro, Golabek; Hart (Fetai 66), Black, McBain, Wilson; Prunty (Bayne 74), Brewster
Inverness CT Subs: Fraser, Duncan, Hastings, Proctor, Fox
Ladbrokes Championship: Saturday 18th March, Dunfermline v Ayr United kick off 3.00pm