SPL v Kilmarnock
KILMARNOCK 1 DUNFERMLINE 0 Date: 29/08/04
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League
Attendance: 4854 Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: Steven Conroy, Weather: Sunny Intervals, blustery 15C
After the huge disappointment on Thursday night the team put up a much better showing in this Sunday afternoon fixture at Rugby Park. After going behind in the tenth minute the Pars fought back winning plenty of possession and creating numerous chances. The breaks did not go the Pars way but the Killie support had a very uneasy second half during which the visitors through everything at them failing only to score.
A small but loyal travelling support made the trip to Ayrshire to see the team which was still without the injured Barry Nicholson. Scott Wilson joined Barry on the injury list but Scott Thomson was fit to take over his role. That meant a starting place for Richie Byrne. Noel Hunt was handed a role on the right of midfield meaning Billy Mehmet came in up front with Derek Young dropping on to the bench.
The Pars kicked off and Billy Mehmet attempted a quick hit with a shot on seven seconds that went way wide to theleft of Combe`s goals. It was Derek Stillie who was first called into serious action making a brave save on the edge of the six yard box, diving in ahead of the rapidly arriving Danny Invincible.
Craig Brewster played the ball off his new striking partnet two minutes later but the effort from 30 yards was too far right. Brew and Mehmet both looked possibly offside in the 9th minute as Brew broke clear of the Killie defence to latch on to a ball lifted over the defence by Andrius Skerla. Jamiie Fowler covered back quickly to thwart Brew as he advanced on goal.
A clearance from Alan Combe then stayed in at the left touchline as INVINCIBLE beat off Skerla`s challenge and hurried off towards goal. As he entered the box Stillie came out to meet him and he would probably have saved the shot had the striker hit it properly but the mishit ball was sent to Stillie`s right and low into the left side of the net.
The Fifers then went through a shaky period when Locke`s cross from the right luckily came off the corner of the crossbar and left goalpost. The first Stillie knew of it was whgen Dillon shot the rebound straight into his arms.
In the 17th minute Gary Dempsey shot a free kick into a five man wall but following that the Pars took control maintaining possession and building up play. Movement from Mason through Dempsey to Young teed up Shields on the edge of the D but it went straight to Combe.
At the midway point of the first half Noel Hunt sent a low cross into the Killie 6 yard box but Combe took it at the second attempt.
Darren Young lined up Dempsey for a 25 yard shot that Combe turned around the post for a corner. Dempsey took that and re-crossed it when it was defended back to him. Combe got his fingertips to the cross and gathered the ball as it dropped down.
In the 32nd minute Hunt had a cruel tackle on Murray on the edge of the right side of the Pars penalty area. Locke sent the free kick into the box and it was cleared only as far as Gary Wales whose well struck shot was turned around the left post by Stillie. Two Dillon corners were shakily defended before Mehmet`s pass wide to Hunt caused further concern in the home defence but the firmly struck cross only went fizzing through the penalty box and out for a throw on the left.
Young and Dempsey had further attempts on goal but both were off target. Hunt had a shot that went to the keeper and then when Mehmet`s pass to the edge of the box came off the heel of Gary MacDonald the Pars luck was summed up as Gary Mason could not get the bounce that let the advantage be taken. Nothing was going the Fifers way and Hunt closed the half with another ball that flashed through the opposition box with no takers.
One down at half time but the Pars had created chances; more than in most of their matches this season. The major problem was clearly who was going to net. It was not going to be Noel Hunt since he was replaced by Derek Young at half time and Aaron Labonte took over on the left side of the defence in place of the injured Richie Byrne.
Gary Dempsey had taken all the first half free kicks but when Gary Wales conceded one 22 yards out, earning himself a yellow card it was Craig Brewster who stepped up to assume the responsibility. Brew got around the seven man wall and tested Combe with a powerful shot that the keeper did very well to save diving to his left.
The Pars piled on the pressure. Mason`s high ball to Brewster was guided into the path of Mehmet on the right side of the penalty box but all he could win was a corner. The local support were urging their side to "get back into it" and although substitute Craig Dargo did get the ball in the net the pass from Invincible had caught him in an offside position.
Greg Shields was pushing up the right leaving three at the back for spells. His 64th minute pass to Mehmet on the right was swung over by Mehmet and Combe had a panicky punch out from under his bar as the cross became a shot. Shields pass to Derek Young then got cut back for Mehmet but Killie intercepted as the striker looked in line to open his account. The home fans were fast losing their patience when Darren Young was given another crack at goal but was wide.
Killie mounted one counterattack with Dindeleux putting Invincible through but Stillie saved with ease. Labonte tried to penetrate up the left. First his ball into the left side of the box for Dempsey was snuffed out by Fowler then his ball to Mehmet was deflected for a corner before Brewster could get on the end of it.
The travelling support, few in number managed to burst out into song as the possibility of a Pars goal seemed to grow greater. Dempsey`s corner from the left was headed away and quickly Kilmarnock were back on the offensive. Danny Invincible plated a one two with Fowler to test Stillie with a stinging shot that resulted in a corner. Dillon`s delivery provided a free header thankfully wide, from Invincible after he had pushed away Brewster.
In the 74th minute Fowler fed Johnston a ball down the right to cross only for Invincible to head off target. Then two minutes later Johnston picked out Dargo as Skerla narrowly failed to cut out the pass. The former Raith man got in a shot that went close but wide. Thereafter it was all Dunfermline as the team fought to rescue a point.
A quickly taken throw in on the right let Mason cross into the centre of the Kilie box but Brewster was penalised for his challenge. Then with ten minutes remaining Brewster took a quick throw to Shields and Brew walloped over a cross that Dempsey headed wide left. Toddy was brought on for Mason as everything was thrown forward but alas it continued to be just near things.
Labonte and Dempsey made ground down the left to send over a fine ball that Derek Young flicked out for Mehmet to hit but that got blocked. Darren Young`s ball to Mehmet brought a desperate diving header to from Locke to keep the Pars out. Next in the 87th minute Andy Tod was presented with a great chance when Shields cross from the right dropped nicely at his feet but Combe reacted fast to block the shot. Seconds later a Dempsey ball in from the left was fumbled by Combe but Thomson was wide with the chance.
There were shouts for a penalty for substitute Greer`s tackle on Tod and everyone knew Kilmarnock were living increasingly dangerously. In the second minute of the four added at the end of normal time Combe had to pull out a fine save when Stillie`s kick out was directed on through Brewster and Tod for Mehmet to fire in a useful shot. In the last throw of the dice Brewster took a free kick 26 yards out in a central position. A seven man wall lined up in front of him but he saw a big space to the left side of the box where Skerla seemed to be completely unmarked. The bait was taken and a Killie man got to the pass first and so ended any chances of a redeeming result.
Jim Jeffries men who sat in 11th place just above the Pars when this match kicked off, knew that this game was all about getting a result. That they achieved and climbed the table as a result. They gave away no easy chances and were resilient under the Pars pressure. Dunfermline now unfortunately have to wait until 11th September for the next opportunity to register their first competitive win under Davie Hay. If they play like they did at Rugby Park and get some good luck instead of bad it might just happen.
Kilmarnock: Combe; Fowler, Lilley (Greer 85), Dindeleux, Dillon; Johnston, Locke, MacDonald (Joly 70), Murray; Wales (Dargo 56), Invincible
Kilmarnock Subs: Smith, Dodds, Canning, Naismith
Kilmarnock Goal Scorers: Invincible (10)
Kilmarnock Yellow Card: Fowler (36), Wales (54), Greer (93)
Ladbrokes Championship: Saturday 18th March, Dunfermline v Ayr United kick off 3.00pm