SPL v Rangers
DUNFERMLINE 0 RANGERS 1 Date: 17/04/05
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League, Attendance: 8266
Kick Off: 14:00, Referee: Kenny Clark
Weather: Overcast 9C
With Rangers sitting second in the SPL, five points behind Celtic it was always likely that this was going to be a tough one for the Pars. Their record of one SPL win from their previous 45 encounters with the Gers confirmed that one almighty difficult obstacle in their battle against relegation this afternoon. The Pars badly needed the points but with the Old Firm meeting in potentially the title decider only a week away this was not a match that the visitors could afford to lose.
Dunfermline were without top goalscorer Andy Tod but Gjorgi Hristov came in to start only his third game for the East End Park side. For the visitors Thomas Buffel and Barry Ferguson returned.
Hristov and Darren Young got the match underway at 2.00pm for the purposes of Setenta and within 40 seconds the cameras were focussing on Rangers first corner of the afternoon. The Pars coped with that but on two minutes yet another was conceded out on the right again. This time the short taken corner picked out Ferguson on the corner of the penalty box and Stillie was tested with a fine shot. Derek was up to it with an equally good save and Novo failed to convert the follow up.
Rangers were all over the Pars in the opening six minutes and when Iain Campbell was forced into conceding another corner to stop Prso`s progress as he ran on to a neat pass from Novo. When the corner was swung over from the boot of Gregory Vignal the ball was assisted through the six yard box off a defender. Fernando Ricksen centred from the left edge of the six yard box and Dado PRSO rose to head the ball into the top right of the net from six yards.
A brief respite was earned when the Pars midfield were allowed to string a few passes together in the 11th minute and that culminated in a Campbell cross from the left touch line being headed into the hands of the red shirted Ronald Waterreus. Rangers continued to press but the home team did get another chance just six minutes later when Derek Young drove forward and Hristov played his pass into the path of Darren Young whose right footed effort from 22 yards was saved by the Rangers keeper diving to his left.
At midway in the first half Noel Hunt had a similar shot that against the keeper dealt with while at the other end a slip up on the left side of defence let Prso pick out Nacho Novo in good central position but his shot was sent narrowly wide of Stillie`s right hand post. On 25 minutes a Campbell cross was defended only as far as Hunt ten yards out but alas he blasted the good chance wide right.
The Rangers support had long stopped their songs and were growing increasingly impatient with their team when Maurice Ross was penalised for dangerously high foot in his challenge with Derek Young. The free kick on the left was sent over by Campbell had not nearly enough elevation but the clearance went straight to Derek Young and his ball into the Rangers box was aided on by an overhead Andrius Skerla kick but again the visitors` defence cleared.
Rangers continued to threaten going forward and were unbelievably unlucky in the 32nd minute when a loose Dunfermline pass picked out Buffel whose shot tricked beyond the left post. Gregory Vignal broke forward down the left but his delivery was too strong and Buffel failed to create anything from the return in from the right.
Seven minutes from the interval a Campbell free kick from 28 yards out on the right tried to find Scott Wilson at the far post but the ball broke off Prso for the Pars` first corner of the day. The corner from Derek Young again failed to get height but Scott Thomson was still in the penalty box when the ball was returned. The captain headed the ball on to Hristov who in turn headed back to Darren Young. He chested down the ball before beating the keeper from 25 yards only to see the ball come cruelly back off the right goalpost. Following up Hunt boomed the ball over the crossbar.
Dunfermline finished the half strongly and the half time whistle was possibly sweeter for the visitors. So at half time and only one goal behind the Pars certainly had everything to play for as they attacked the goal in front of the Norrie McCathie stand for the second period.
It was the eighth minute of the second half before there was anything that could be described as a goalmouth incident and it was the Pars who created the chance. A useful through ball from Derek Young sent Gjiorgi Hristov deep into the left side of the Rangers box and his cut back dropped invitingly but Bob Malcolm was the nearest to it and the ball was knocked away out to the right. Three minutes later Prso provided Ferguson with an opportunity to send a rocket in on the Pars goal but the ball soared over the crossbar from 20 yards.
Awaken by that Rangers then forced the Pars back but they survived with a Stillie palm out from a Prso cross and defending successfully a Vignal corner. Shoto Arveladze was introduced for Nacho Novo in the 61st minute and Billy Mehmet then replaced Simon Donnelly. The Pars could not be faulted for their efforts to get the equaliser working as a unit to try and get the breakthrough. Rangers were much more relaxed in their approach, content to sit on their slender lead.
A high Vignal ball into the box in the 73rd minute might have got them a second but Prso seemed to take his eye off the ball as he was left with just Stillie to beat. Try as they might the Pars had little joy in getting near enough the Rangers goal to shoot. An Arveladze cross from the right was sent behind for a corner on the right with just five minutes to go. Vignal played a short one for Arveladze to send in and a glancing header from Dado Prso was well held by Derek Stillie.
Gary Mason was presented with a good chance on the edge of the Rangers box when substitute Jesper Christiansen set him up but the midfielder seemed to be undecided and the chance was closed out. As the Pars pushed up Arveladze started a breakaway, three on two and he fed Vignal to speed away down the left wing but he chose to shoot into the sidenetting instead of using the unmarked Arveladze in a goalscoring position.
At the end it was a single goal Rangers victory but certainly no mauling. The Pars could not be accused of lying down in this game and if they fight like this in their next five crucial matches there`s every chance that they can be playing Rangers again next season.
Dunfermline Subs not used: Langfield, McKeown, C Wilson, Scullion, Ross
Dunfermline Strip: Home White and Black
Dunfermline : Stillie (41), Skerla (48), Campbell (66), Derek Young (91)
Rangers Squad: Waterreus, Ross, Malcom, Kyrgiakos, Ball; Ricksen, Buffel (Namouchi 79), Ferguson, Vignal; Prso, Novo (Arveladze 61)
Rangers Subs: McGregor, Thompson, Khizanishvili, Burke, McCormack
Rangers Goal Scorers: Prso (7)
Rangers Yellow Cards: Prso (66), Buffel (78)
Ladbrokes Championship: Saturday 18th March, Dunfermline v Ayr United kick off 3.00pm