SPL v Motherwell
MOTHERWELL 2 DUNFERMLINE 1 Date: 27/11/04
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League
Attendance: 5084 Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: Mike McCurry Weather: Wet 7C
A two one scoreline does not full tell the story. The Pars went behind in the 25th minute when Andy Tod could do nothing to prevent turning the ball into his own net. Irishman Richie Foran put the home side two up before Toddy repented with a deflection from a Nicholson corner. With Aaron Labonte sent off in the 29th minute it was probably too great a hill to climb for the ten Pars to claim a point from two down. Dunfermline put in a great fighting performance under adversity and could have sneaked an equaliser but it wasn`t to be.
Davie Hay made two changes from the team that beat Kilmarnock last Saturday: Greg Shields replaced Greg Ross at right back and Andy Tod is given the mammoth task to fill Craig Brewster`s boots
Simon Donnelly and Barry Nicholson got the game underway for Dunfermline defending the goal in front of their 400 or so travelling support. Gary Mason received the pass back and launched the ball towards Andy Tod. Donnelly was alert and was in for a shot after just 22 seconds but unfortunately his sights were too high.
Motherwell won the first corner of the match in the 6th minute and Richie Foran`s header won them a second. This time the Pars cleared but Foran was soon causing more problems on the right side of the box but the defence was good enough to prevent Clarkson getting in a shot.
The Pars conceded much of the early possession with their long balls being easily dealt with by Marshall and the `Well back four. Motherwell`s efforts were more constructive and Aaron Labonte was called into showing some fine defensive play.
It was the 17th minute before there was anything that could be described as a goalmouth incident. Simon Donnelly breached the offside trap to send Mehmet down the right and when his square ball to Darren Young looked like being despatched into the Motherwell net fron 12 yards out Martyn Corrigan produced a fine block to send the ball out on the far side for a throw in.
Dunfermline kept the pressure up and two minutes later an Andy Tod flick on set up Shields for a run down the right. His delivery in picked out Mehmet but he failed to get the shot in and Donnelly then had a try. The ball broke back to Mehmet but his shot from 12 yards lacked power and Marshall held easily.
Motherwell won another corner in the 24th minute when O`Donnell`s cross was blocked out by Greg Shields. Steven Hammell took the set piece and another corner resulted when a number of heads went up. Next time Derek Stillie fisted the ball away as he rose above the challenging players. The ball was not totally cleared and Hammell soon had the ball back at his feet on the left. This time his cross created hesitation in the Pars defence and Scott Wilson seem to connect at the edge of the six yard box. The ball deceived Stillie and was heading for the net as Andy TOD tried to scoop the ball out but instead turn the ball into his own goal off the left goalpost.
As if going one down after 25 minutes worse followed four minutes later as Dunfermline went one man down as well. Aaron Labonte slid in to a tackle on David Clarkson just outside the box on the right side about 15 yards from the byeline. The young Pars central defender seemed to react to Clarkson and Referee Mike McCurry was quick to flash red. Shocked by this the Pars struggled to settle after the incident and were lucky as Foran failed to connect with a Corrigan ball into the six yard box.
There was optimism however as the visitors rallied and could have scored in the 35th minute. Good attacking play from Scott Thomson won a corner on the left and Barry Nicholson`s ball in was teed up for Mehmet who thumped in a low shot that was stopped by Scott Leitch although he probably knew little about it. Another corner followed this time on the right. Nich took that as well and perseverance by Tod got Mehmet into a shooting position but Marshall dived to his left to save.
Marshall failed to clear properly and Donnelly won possession to shoot from 25 yards but unluckily too high. Before the interval a Phil O`Donnnell header might have increased the lead but it went over the crossbar. Dunfermline had more shots on target than Motherwell but it was the home side who restarted with the one goal advantage.
Davie Hay made no changes for the second half but there were early indications that the Pars were not going to let the points go Motherwell`s way without a fight. Both Andy Tod and Scott Wilson sprinted forward in the 47th minute seeking to get on the end of a Pars move up the left.
Steven Hammell drove forward evading the challenges of Nicholson and Wilson but his shot was well wide. Next it was the Pars turn to come close. Barry Nicholson was flattened about 25 yards out but Scott Thomson`s free kick effort just dropped over the crossbar.
Chances which had been so few in the first half continued to come. Mason`s fine pass to Mehmet on the right allowed the Republic of Ireland U21 internationalist to race in on goal but his shot was well held by Marshall. In the 57th minute Foran fed Paterson 15 yards out on the right side of the Pars box. His shot was knocked away for a corner left when he really should have found the net. When the corner came over from the right Stillie scooped away only as far as Craigan whose shot flattened Fitzpatrick but preventing the ball reaching the net.
Motherwell got their second goal five minutes later, the 62nd. Fitzpatrick made a good run down the right to cut back from the byeline. Clarkson`s header from five yards was parried into the air ahead of him and FORAN headed home to put the Steelmen 2-0 up.
The Pars won their first corner of the second half as a Nicholson free kick was deflected behind on the left side. Barry went over and swung over the corner. It was a strong ball in and Andy TOD got a touch to send it into the bottom right of the `Well goal. So the deficit was cut back and the Pars had 25 minutes remaining to prevent a pointless trip to Fir Park.
Scott Wilson was yellow carded for a tackle on Foran and was fortunate when the game got quite heated only minutes later. Tod`s tackle on Paterson raised the cries from the home support. Dunfermline were clearly keen to fight back and made Motherwell hold on against the ten men.
When Donnelly was taken out by a Stephen Craigan tackle he was substituted by Thomas Butler before Nicholson drove a fine low shot on target that Marshall had to dive to his left to save. With five minutes remaining play was back in front of Stillie but the home side`s ideas on finishing were lacking.
In the 87th minute Butler received a pass from Mehmet but was fouled as he jinked around the top of the penalty box. Another free kick gave Nicholson another pop at goal but this time he was high and the ball dropped on the roof of the net. That was the visitors last chance and the home support left to the sounds of "Celebrate Good Times".
No points then but no embarrassment. There would have been more chance had they had eleven men. The fighting spirit was certainly present but in the end it was all pointless. Good performances from Nicholson and Donnelly and Billy Mehmet tried very hard to make up for the absence of Craig Brewster.
Ladbrokes Championship: Saturday 22nd April, Dunfermline v Falkirk kick off 3.00pm