SPL v Dundee United
DUNFERMLINE 1 DUNDEE UNITED 1 Date: 07/08/04
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League
Attendance: 6512 Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: Dougie McDonald, Weather: Sunny 21C
After Andy Tod stuck the Pars into the lead early in the second half Dundee United fought back to clinch an equaliser 14 minutes from time through substitute Jim McIntyre. With it being last term`s 4th v 5th Dunfermline have to be unhappy at dropping points against United because the Pars created umpteen chances yet only scored one goal.
Davie Hay went with Tod upfront beside Noel Hunt; a back four of Shields, Skerla, Wilson and Byrne and Nicholson, Mason and Dempsey lined up in midfield beside skipper Scott Thomson. Derek Stillie returned in goals as the sun shone down throughout the game, it was an ideal day to be a supporter with just under 1700 travelling fans in the crowd of 6512 and there was a good atmosphere around East End Park as everyone welcomed the opening of a new SPL season.
Off his trolley Sammy goes to the wrong Iceland
It was only 50 seconds old when the home support were encouraged when Hunt beat McCracken 35 yards out and travelled into the United penalty box. The young Irishman`s touch put the ball just too far ahead of him and Mark Kerr stepped in to concede a necessary corner. Nicholson ball into the box was headed wide left off the head of Andrius Skerla amongst appeals for another corner.
Playing towards the McCathie Stand, Dundee United`s first threat came in the sixth minute when a Robson header dropped to Grady at the far post but the debut boy`s fierce shot went out for a throw in on the Dunfermline right. Chris Innes` challenge on Tod earned the Pars a free kick 35 yards out but Gary Dempsey`s attempt failed to clear the United wall and when Greg Shields swept the ball back into the penalty area Andy Tod was penalised for his over enthusiastic efforts to reach the cross.
James Grady`s pass to Jason Scotland in the 14th minute was crucially intercepted by Skerla before a well worked build up created another good chance for the Pars. Dempsey picked out Hunt on the edge of the box and the lay off came back in the direction of Mason but he left it for Shields to send a fine ball back to Byrne on the left. Shieldsie ran into the space far up the left and when Byrne released the ball to his fellow full back the ball was next deflected wide off the head of Andy Tod.
On 25 minutes Hunt dispossessed Innes on the 18 yard line but the ball just wouldn`t drop quick enough for him and his forced shot was sent over the crossbar. The visitors tested the Pars defence with Scotland rounding Skerla to drive in a low cross but Scott Wilson stepped in to clear. Then Scotland was downed by Mason just yards inside the Pars half and the midfielder was shown a soft yellow card by referee Dougie McDonald.
When Nicholson tried to send another ball into the box the ball broke off the back of Andy Tod but Shields delivery into the box was well defended by Mark Wilson and the Pars were denied again. Hunt and Dempsey were felled by two successive fouls and amid torrents of whistles and boos referee McDonald auditioned for the part of the pantomime baddy by penalising Barry Nicholson for his less obvious challenge on a United player.
Gladly Richie Byrne was alert to a fine ball from Scotland to Grady and his interception was perfect. The Pars had two or three chances with McCracken heading clear a Nicholson free kick from 35 yards out on the right side and then Toddy heading a Shields long throw well wide of the right post. Five minutes from half time Dempsey kept up the pressure receiving a ball worked through Hunt from Byrne that was blocked by McInnes.
The half finished with the visitors replying through two free kicks in dangerous positions. Firstly Scott Wilson might have warranted yellow but didn`t, for his tackle on Jason Scotland and United`s free kick 25 yards out was hit at the five man defensive wall by Barry Robson. Then when Dempsey fouled Robson a little further out Robson sent the second free kick straight at the 3 man wall.
In the time added at the end of the first half for injuries Scott Thomson was cut as Grady arrived a little late into a challenge. After receiving four stitches in his forehead Scott was rested for the second half and Darren Young was introduced to the new season for the start of the second half. Young was immediately involved forcing Innes to head away a cross aimed at Tod after Nicholson had switched Young`s pass across the box.
The 48th minute witnessed Gary Dempsey drive through on the left and play a neat 1-2 off Mason whose lay off teed the Irishman up. Gary hesitated as the ball failed to sit up for him and Andy TOD arrived to stick the ball in the net from 4 yards as the defence were marked absent.
The lead should have been doubled two minutes later when Toddy`s header dropped to Nicholson but he blasted over the bar from only six yards out albeit at an acute angle. United showed that they were not going to give up without a fight. Jason Scotland popped up on the left to send in a fine ball that Billy Dodds headed on target from 12 yards causing Stillie to perform acrobatics to tip the ball over the bar for a corner.
Chris Innes was yellow carded for his tackle on Tod just a yard inside the United half in front of the dug outs. When Byrne swung in the free kick Hunt rose to tamely head the ball into the arms of Tony Bullock. Byrne provided Mason with the chance to send in another ball into the penalty box. This time Nicholson was on the end of it but the keeper pulled off a great save and when Darren Young got a chance off the rebound his shot from the edge of the box was deflected wide for a corner on the left.
Dempsey`s pass to Hunt in the 59th minute let the striker rifle in a good shot that brought a great save out of United`s new no.1. Skerla was forced to concede a corner three minutes later as he covered across but Stillie was out well to touch away Robson`s delivery. Two further corners for United produced only a fluffed Samuel shot at the far post.
Toddy was on the end of a Nicholson cross after the Scottish internationalist had beaten off Archibald to set up a chance at the far post but the goalscorer could only send the ball across the goals and outside the far post with no takers arriving. Chances continued to come Dunfermline`s way and when Greg Shields sent a left footed effort into the box Noel Hunt tried an overhead kick but his aim was too far left.
Davie Hay`s telephone calls to the bench resulted in a double substitution in the 73rd minute. There was a standing ovation for Craig Brewster as he came on for Noel Hunt and the Pars fans remained on their pins to applaud Andy Tod as he was replaced by Billy Mehmet. Ian McCall took the opportunity to bring on self confessed artificial pitch hater, Jim McIntyre.
Scotland made the break into the right side of the Pars box but Stillie was down on his knees to collect the ball as it came along the goalline. Scotland had better success when on the next attack he supplied a better ball from a similar position. A dummy sold most of the Pars defence and as the ball flash along the six yard line substitute McINTYRE made his first touch turning the ball passed Stillie to make it 1-1 with 76 minutes gone.
Mason should have restored the lead in the 79th minute after Young had played a fine pass into the right side of the box but the chance was wasted as the Pars midfielder pulled his shot across the face of the goal. Next Mason put through Mehmet but he was forced to shoot over the bar as McCracken tracked him back. Young had a badly connected shot saved by the keeper and at the other end the Pars survived a light pass back by Wilson but Stillie was out faster than Grady could cash in on the mistake.
In the end a 1-1 draw was all that could be earned. The Pars wasted too many good chances while Stillie never really had too much to do. Davie Hay will be hoping Brewster`s return will solve the goalscoring problems but at least the second half performance will bolster the side`s confidence as they head for the Artic Circle and their first match in European competition for over 34 years.
Dundee United: Bullock; Wilson, Innes, McCracken, Archibald; Kerr, Dodds (Samuel 60), McInnes, Robson; Scotland (Duff 83), Grady
Dundee United Subs: Jarvie, Holmes, Ritchie, Conway
Dundee United Goal Scorers: McIntyre (76)
Dundee United Yellow Card: Innes (54)
Ladbrokes Championship: Saturday 18th March, Dunfermline v Ayr United kick off 3.00pm